Fr Alec's reflections on Divine Mercy Sunday
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Divine Mercy Sunday
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen.
The Lord be with you.
Let us pray.
God of everlasting mercy,
who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast
kindle the faith of the people you have made your own,
increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed,
that all may grasp and rightly understand
in what font they have been washed,
by whose Spirit they have been reborn,
by whose Blood they had been redeemed.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. R/ Amen.
We will continue with the second reading from this Sunday's mass. In your Bibles, it's 1 Peter, Chapter 1, Verses 3 through 9.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
The word of the Lord.
Perhaps you've been at mass with me before when I've done one or more announcements before preaching. Today is one of those days.
I want to make sure you are aware of a few resources which will be of help to you this week and in the future.
First of all, Fr. Vincent has written a new letter to us that is now available on the cluster website and Facebook page. The Facebook page is “The Catholic Church in East Saint James Parish.” Please Like it and look for information there. The website is www.rivirdcat.org.
Besides Fr. Vincent's April 16th letter, you can find the latest bulletin on the website and Facebook page. And in the April 19th bulletin, there is a page that shows you how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet using your rosary beads. I'll say more about that later, since this is Divine Mercy Sunday. You'll see that there is also a picture or image of Jesus the Divine Mercy. You can print that out in color and keep it at home.
The last resource I want to share with you at this time is a video on FORMED, both the FORMED website and the FORMED app. If you haven't signed up for this free service yet, while we're all at home is a great time to do it. You can sign up for it using our cluster website. If you have questions, leave a message on the church office voicemail. You can use extension 10 for the secretaries.
Editor' Note: You can sign up for FREE. Go to www.FORMED.org. Register as "Belong to a parish" and look for the parish of "East St James".
Anyway, the video I have in mind is of people praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It is only 8 minutes. You can pray it all along or just listen. It's under the heading, “Divine Mercy,” with the title, “Divine Mercy Chaplet,” and the picture includes the words, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
Jesus is risen! What a miracle that is! Not only for him, but for us.
The reading speaks of how God, “in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
With his resurrection has come a “living hope,” the Scripture says, that we share in through our baptism and through our faith in the Risen Lord.
I mean, I believe he's risen. That's been a continuous belief throughout Church history. If you read the gospel passage for Sunday, from John, chapter 20, it's about two of the resurrection appearances of Jesus to his apostles. Last week, we had the empty tomb, but the empty tomb is ambiguous. Did somebody steal his body, like Mary Magdalene first thought? Did he rise from the dead, like the Beloved Disciple believed? There are various possible explanations. But the biblical writers take pains to reveal that he is indeed risen. They give us multiple stories of him appearing to different people after he rose, talking with them, eating with them, and so on.
We have reason to believe that even in the 20th Century, the Risen Lord Jesus appeared to a Polish nun, Saint Faustina Kowalska. He gave her various instructions, telling her to have a Feast of Divine Mercy celebrated (as we do this weekend), telling her to have his image as he appeared to her painted (like the tapestry here at Saint Michael Church) with the words, “Jesus, I trust in you,” giving her the prayers of the chaplet of Divine Mercy (as found in the bulletin).
Every year at this time, I speak about Jesus, who is himself the Divine Mercy, and about the Divine Mercy devotion entrusted to Saint Faustina. And I use the memory technique A-B-C.
A - Ask for God's mercy.
B - Be merciful.
C - Completely trust in Jesus
In the interest of time, this year I will focus exclusively on a special case of the precept, “Be merciful.” It has to do with the spiritual work of mercy, “Pray for the living and the dead,” and derives from our present circumstances.
An Irish priest, Fr. Philip Kemmy, read an article recently with the headline, “Everyone Dies Alone.” That was a quote from a doctor treating coronavirus patients In Italy, “Everyone Dies Alone.”
Allow me to share with you how God moved Fr. Philip to respond with something called the “No One Dies Alone Project.”
In Fr. Philip’s words:
“It was a very sobering and tragically sad report, describing how, because they have to be isolated, those suffering and slowly dying from Covid19 meet their end without the comfort and consolation of their relatives and loved ones. The medical staff do what they can, but they
are overwhelmed by the task that lies before them. When I read that headline, immediately I was stirred to begin this little project. Inspired by a scene in the Diary of St. Faustina, where she was spiritually transported by the Lord in order to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at the
bedside of a dying man she did not know, I would like to suggest that we would each commit to praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet each day for the days ahead to spiritually place ourselves beside one of the poor unfortunate men and women who are dying alone in hospitals [and homes] all over the world because of this virus, some of whom are perhaps not well prepared spiritually for their earthly end. If families were to pray it then several dying persons would be spiritually adopted with the one prayer of the Chaplet.
Praying the Chaplet for the dying, we will petition Jesus to enfold them in his Merciful Love in their final hours and grant them a strong experience of his consoling presence before they take their leave of this life. This would be a great act of mercy and love for those who are victims of this virus and who are approaching their end.
Please consider taking part in this project. There is no need to sign up [for] anything. It is a simple movement which, please God, will bear enormous fruit for the souls for whom we pray. I would appreciate it if you were to pass this on to others you know who might be willing to take
up this spiritual work of mercy.”
That is a profoundly Christian idea. Doing something merciful for somebody we may not even know. In this case, especially for those we don’t know.
The New Testament letter to the Ephesians identifies our God as “rich in mercy,” in keeping with how God revealed himself to Moses and the Old Testament prophets. I have said that Jesus himself is the Divine Mercy--the mercy of God become a human being. Let us seek to be people after his own merciful heart. Let us take up our rosaries, print out the Divine Mercy Chaplet prayers from this week's bulletin, and intercede, daily if possible, for someone dying from the virus. Only takes 8 minutes. We may feel otherwise kind of helpless at this time, but our merciful God has empowered us to become people of mercy who make sure no one dies alone.
May God bless you and keep you and may the blessing of Almighty God descend upon you and remain with you forever: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.