by Julia Doolin
The first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Divine Mercy. This year, that date falls on April 23. The devotion to the Divine Mercy began spreading throughout the world in the 1930’s and is based upon private revelations to a young Polish nun, now known as St. Faustina. The message is not a new one, but is instead a reminder of what the Church has always taught through Scripture and tradition: That God is merciful and forgiving and that we, too, must show mercy and forgiveness. But the message of the Divine Mercy devotion calls people to a deeper understanding that God’s love is unlimited and available to everyone – especially the greatest sinners. In a decree dated May 23, 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that “throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come.” Taking the declaration of the feast day a step further, the Apostolic Penitentiary announced on August 3, 2002, that in order “to ensure that the faithful would observe Divine Mercy Sunday with intense devotion, the Supreme Pontiff himself established that this Sunday be enriched by a plenary indulgence…so that the faithful might receive in great abundance the gift of the consolation of the Holy Spirit.”
With regard to the plenary indulgence associated with Divine Mercy Sunday, the usual conditions apply: sacramental confession (typically several days before or after the indulgenced act), Eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff. The faithful are asked to gather in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. “Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”)
This year, two parishes in the Diocese of Shreveport are providing an entire weekend of Divine Mercy events. On Saturday, April 22, 2017, Fr. Michael Gaitley of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, will present a Divine Mercy Retreat at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. Doors open at 8:00 a.m. Register for the retreat at www.marian.org. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered at the end of the retreat. In preparation for the retreat, it is recommended that participants read the book 33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC.
On Sunday, April 23, St. Joseph Church, located at 211 Atlantic Avenue in Shreveport, will host a holy hour in honor of Divine Mercy Sunday. The holy hour will begin promptly at 2:30 p.m. and will include the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as well as veneration of the Divine Mercy image. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available immediately following the holy hour. •