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Divine Mercy Sunday

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Greetings. Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. This feast was instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in 2000. The feast of Divine Mercy originated from private revelations offered to Sr. Mary Faustina, in Poland, beginning in 1924 and culminating with the vision of Jesus as the “King of Divine Mercy” on 22 February 1931. Jesus, in this vision, asked Sr. Faustina to become his secretary of divine mercy who would model how to be merciful and to emphasize God’s loving mercy to the world. This image is next to the St. Joseph altar at Our Lady of Peace Church.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy stems from this vision. The Chaplet is prayed traditionally at 3 p.m., as it is at Our Lady of Peace Church each weekday, while holding rosary beads. The Chaplet prayers include the following:

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. (Prayed on the larger bead at the beginning of a decade.)

For the sake of his sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world. (Prayed on the ten smaller beads between decades.)

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world. (Prayed three times at the conclusion.)

Sr. Faustina was canonized on 30 April 2000. An optional memorial dedicated to her, celebrated on 5 October, was added to the Liturgical Calendar by Pope Francis in 2020.

The celebration of Divine Mercy is a perfect fit for today’s Gospel reading from John, Chapter 20 – the Resurrection appearance of Jesus to St. Thomas.

I am a huge fan of St. Thomas. I think that St. John was a huge fan as well. In John’s writings it is Thomas who courageously asked Jesus many tough questions. The questions that everyone else is thinking but they do not have the courage to say aloud. Thomas is a teacher’s ideal student. 

But Thomas also shows his courage by his absence from the Upper Room on that very first Easter Sunday evening. Thomas, rather than staying cooped up in a room with the other ten apostles, chose to risk the dangers of roaming through the city of Jerusalem in search of answers to his, and our, many questions.

St. Thomas perpetually carries a gerund – doubting – attached like a judgmental prefix abutting his name. A doubter would not have stayed with the others after the Passion of Jesus. A doubter would not have returned to the Upper Room, the site of the Lord’s Supper, the site where his feet were washed. A doubter would not have allowed himself to experience a week of spiritual anguish awaiting the return of Jesus. A doubter would not, a searcher would.

St. Thomas is the patron saint of those who search, those who seek, those who hunger for understanding, those who thirst for comprehension, those who toil for resolution, those who desire patience, those who know that they will find answers as long as they keep asking. St. Thomas may not have been the only one of the Eleven to touch the Risen Lord. But, since he knew what questions to ask, and had the courage to ask them, St. Thomas was the only one to understand that while he touched Jesus, he was touching God. 

In celebration of St. Thomas spend some time this week with these questions. 

  1. From today’s reading from Acts: What does it mean to eat a meal with exultation and sincerity of heart? Have you ever had such a meal?
  2. From the Psalm: In what ways have you rejected the Lord? How is the Lord your cornerstone?
  3. In the second reading, how does St. Peter describe mercy? How do you describe mercy? 
  4. Do you like putting puzzles together? Do you prefer working alone or with a group?
  5. What is peace? Why did Jesus offer peace to his followers? Why do we offer peace at Mass? Why are we urged to “Go in peace” at the conclusion of Mass?
  6. St. John, at the conclusion of the Gospel, writes: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.” What do you think those signs were? Why were they not included? What are the many signs that Jesus has worked in your presence?

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