Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 28, 2005
St. Faustina prays for our return
Divine Mercy Sunday - second Sunday of Easter - created at the request of Jesus
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Joan Lebeuf was inexplicably drawn to Ephphatha House following the death of her husband in 1994.
The mother of six grown children was unaware the retreat house northwest of Stony Plain was devoted to Jesus and his divine mercy.
Now director of the facility, Lebeuf described her 10-year residency as "beautiful" and "deeply touched" since she began praying to St. Faustina Kowalska who claimed she received messages from Jesus in the 1930s asking her to spread devotion to his divine mercy throughout the world.
"There is such love from Jesus that pours out from him. It is beautiful," Lebeuf said. "But we have to respond. It is what the world needs now, if people would just recognize it, and turn to him."
St. Faustina, canonized by Pope John Paul on Mercy Sunday 2000, was a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy from 1925 until her death in 1938 at the age of 33. 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 Mercy Sunday, following the nine-day novena beginning on Good Friday, Faustina prescribed going to Confession and receiving Holy Communion to obtain complete forgiveness of sins and remission of punishment.
Oceans of graces
"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.
The divine mercy novena is an invitation to sinners to come to the Lord and accept his forgiveness. Prayers for the novena were established in Blessed Faustina's diary titled Divine Mercy in My Soul, asking for the Lord's mercy not only for ourselves, but the whole world. St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her to bring his heart to a different group each day and immerse them in his ocean of mercy.
On each day of the novena, Faustina was to beg that God, on the strength of Christ's passion, grace the souls of all humanity, especially sinners; of priests and the religious; the devout and faithful souls. She was to pray for those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know him; for the separated brethren, the meek and humble and the souls of children.
During the novena's final three days, Faustina was to pray for the souls detained in purgatory and the souls who have become lukewarm and indifferent.
"I think it is marvellous that Jesus has spoken through St. Faustina, giving her so many insights into what the novena means for him," Lebeuf said. "Jesus is promising many things in the novena. He is explaining how certain people affected him during his Passion, who either followed or did not follow him."
Father Ray Guimond, spiritual director at Ephphatha, said the devotion is similar to the revelation of the Sacred Heart where people needed to come to know something about the Lord, especially about his mercy.
"This is asking for a blessing on the entire world."
- Fr. Ray Guimond
A sense of sin
"To receive this message, one must have a sense of sin and that is something that is greatly missing. People have lost the sense of sin," Guimond said.
"When they come to understand their weaknesses and their sins, they are not going to despair. The Lord has great mercy."
Because this prayer was given by the Lord, it has a lot of power, Guimond said. Ephphatha House has been celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday since 1995, the year in which it opened its Chapel of the Father of Divine Mercy.
"It is very similar to the Mass, not that we will replace the Mass. But we offer the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. We ask for forgiveness of our sins and for different blessings upon the world. It is not an individualistic prayer like some novenas can be. This is asking for a blessing on the entire world," he said.
"I think this devotion is beautiful because Faustina has been canonized. It has authenticity. It is a prayer that makes a lot of sense because we are praying for a world that is not doing too good right now."
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