Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 19, 1999
Crowd prays for Divince Mercy
Support for 20th century Polish devotion grows at Ephphatha House
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
If Blessed Sister Faustina Kowalska could have seen it, she would have been pleased.
More than 600 people gathered at Ephphatha House April 11, the second Sunday of Easter, to celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy as requested by Blessed Faustina following apparitions she had in the 1930s in her native Poland.
The two-and-a-half-hour celebration included Mass, an intercessory prayer called the mercy chaplet and a Holy Hour. Fathers Ray Guimond and Ted Rozmahel presided at the service.
"We have come to celebrate the mercy of our God," Guimond said at the Mass. "There is a life that Jesus wants to give to us; but in order to experience that life, we have to believe, we have to place our trust in the Lord."
Blessed Faustina, beatified by Pope John Paul on Mercy Sunday 1993, was a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy from 1925 until her death in 1938 at the age of 33.
She spent most of her religious life in a mystical relationship with Jesus that led her to the depths of agony and the heights of mystical experience, largely recounted in her diary of 650 pages called Divine Mercy in My Soul.
In locutions and visions, she received messages she claimed came from Jesus asking her to spread devotion to his divine mercy throughout the world.
She said the Lord asked for a special prayer, a mercy chaplet, at the hour that recalls his death - 3 p.m.
According to the apparitions, Jesus requested that the Sunday after Easter (the Second Sunday of Easter) be established in the Church as the Feast of Mercy.
"On that day the very depths of my tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of my mercy," Faustina says Jesus told her.
Mercy Sunday, as the feast is called, has gradually been gaining official acceptance in the Church. In preparation for the feast there is a novena for mercy in the world.
On Mercy Sunday, following the novena, Blessed Faustina prescribed going to Confession and receiving Holy Communion to obtain complete forgiveness of sins and remission of punishment.
In 1959, the Vatican prohibited the spreading of the Devotion to the Divine Mercy in the forms proposed by Sister Faustina. The ban, based on inaccurate data concerning the revelations to Blessed Faustina, was lifted after 20 years. Today the devotion enjoys wide popularity.
Ephphatha House, located in the countryside some 50 km northwest of Edmonton, has been celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday since 1995, the year in which it opened its chapel called Chapel of the Father of Divine Mercy.
Members of the Community of the Presentation, who live on the Ephphatha House compound, follow the devotion to the Divine Mercy rigorously.
Every Sunday at 3 p.m. they gather at the chapel for an hour of prayers, as requested by Faustina. In the chapel they have a relic of Blessed Faustina as well as the stained glass window of Jesus of Divine Mercy which overlooks the chapel.
Jane Burnside, a member of St. Thomas More Parish in Edmonton, came to the celebration after completing a novena.
"I prayed for mercy for all the people in the world, especially for those who are devoted," she said.
Burnside said she felt the Holy Spirit throughout the celebration. And when it ended, she felt "peaceful and renewed, ready to go out in the real world."
Robin Charlesworth of St. Andrew's Parish also came to the celebration following a novena. "I prayed for all the people in my life who are out of God's grace," she said.
She said the celebration made her feel "renewed" and gave her a "clean start."
Ephphatha House director Francis O'Hara was excited and suprised at the numbers attending the Mass, saying he had never seen so many people present. About 350 stayed for dinner following the celebration.