The Second Sunday of Easter is celebrated as the feast of Divine Mercy. There is a natural logic of the placement of that feast in the liturgical calendar – what greater mercy could God show than by what transpired on the Great Night of Easter?
God agrees to die for us and rises from the dead – as the immense sign of hope to us. From now on, his home is our home.
The resurrected Jesus brings us love, freedom from sin and from fear. The liturgy sings about it, popes and priests alike remind us about it in Easter sermons. Yet - how far do we internalize great truths of Easter?
Personally, I am overwhelmed. Intellectually, of course, I know, I accept, I thank and I try to stay open. That is, I stay open on the day of Easter.
Soon, too soon, however, my rushed daily life swallows even this good disposition. This is the end of semester at the university and last lectures, marking of essays, preparing of final exams.
The traditional Easter brunch brings family and some friends to our table, and this means cooking and baking. It is all fun, but also work, although on a different front.
Thus what remains after Easter day seem to be only an increasingly faint memory of the joy of Saturday liturgy, a vague scent of lilies and some crumbs of Easter cake eaten in haste instead of a normal lunch.
CNS PHOTO |NANCY WIECHEC
'Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.'
Over the past years, to offset this frightening tendency to forget what Easter is about, I have learned to make an Easter display in our living room – a statuette of the resurrected Jesus, some lilies beside it, a crucifix.
It works somewhat, but without more time spent in prayer, all these things become "holy artifacts," a decoration, a pang of conscience at the best. Work, various problems and little daily fears engulf me like a merciless tide.
That is why I need Divine Mercy Sunday as a continuation of Easter, or rather as a feast for a hungry soul. This is when I read the Diary of St. Faustina again, and I return to the Chaplet of Mercy she was taught by Jesus in her visions.
The theological content of this simple prayer is astounding.
The first time I speak the words "Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of your dearly beloved Son," I do it with the greatest awe and my soul trembles. Who am I to offer the supreme sacrifice of Jesus to his Father?
Yet the ending of this part of the chaplet "in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world" explains the beginning. Only God's sacrifice can cover our sins. The fact that I am saying these "offertory words" confirms my priestly dignity as a baptized child of the Church.
Then comes the humble "For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and the whole world" repeated 10 times. Only the Passion of Christ opens the door to mercy, and I beg for it. Christian priestly dignity is true only when it is on its knees before God, begging, not demanding.
There is a great balance in this prayer and a source of comfort which lifts darkness of all fears, great and small. I (and my friends) have said it for the dying who had been away from the Church for 50 years and more – and they received the Sacrament of the Sick and passed on peacefully.
I have seen marriages healed with this prayer and the sick healed, dangers averted.
Then comes this tiny prayer anyone can say easily, Catholic or not, yet so profound - "Jesus, I trust in you." This prayer is a cure for the many fears we have - great and small.
I trust in you because you are God, yet you died for me and my sins, and you love me. I trust in you because you are "dives in misericordia" – "rich in mercy" – and your mercy is above all your works.
I trust that your will, whatever it spells for me, is always holy and focused on my ultimate good. Thus I am safe and so are mine. Also the world, contrary to what I read, hear and experience sometimes, is safe in your pierced, resurrected hands.
All is and will be well. Always. Jesus, I trust in you.
The words of Jesus to Sister Faustina: "Say unceasingly this chaplet that I have taught you. Anyone who says it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. Priests will recommend it to sinners as the last hope. Even the most hardened sinner, if he recites this chaplet even once, will receive grace from my infinite mercy.
"I want the whole world to know my infinite mercy. I want to give unimaginable graces to those who trust in my mercy."
"When they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between my Father and the dying person not as the just judge but as the merciful Saviour."
(The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is available at www.praydivinemercy.com.)