Today, on this 2nd Sunday of Easter, or 8th day of Easter (also called the “octave,” as in “eight”), the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday. Today, as we celebrate this Feast of Mercy, there are several important realities and moments that are present that can aid us in celebrating this day in a more meaningful and fruitful way. First and most importantly is this feast itself. Jesus, in his speaking to St. Faustina, asked her to make known his mercy in very special ways. Among the instructions that Our Lord gave to St. Faustina were the praying for mercy through the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and directive that the Church should keep a feast of Mercy on the 2nd Sunday of Easter. In keeping this feast, people ought to prepare themselves for a greater outpouring of God’s Mercy by making use of the sacrament of Penance and by performing works of mercy. The day should be marked by people praying for mercy, through times of Eucharistic Adoration, praying the chaplet, and the offering of the Mass at or near the “hour of mercy” (3:00 pm; the hour our Lord died for us). Such a feast should be kept every year.
Surely, I want to encourage everyone to partake of the time of Eucharistic Adoration happening at the Cathedral of Our Lady from 1:00 – 3:00 today, with the Chaplet being prayed at 3:00 as a way to keep this day. Likewise, I share with you how there is very clear link between the praying of the Chaplet and our faith in the Eucharist in the very words prayed during the chaplet. In the prayer “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,” we are proclaiming words that directly apply to the Holy Eucharist. That we offer the “Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity” of Jesus is more than an act of piety. These words were first used in this way at the Council of Trent in the 16th century to serve as an articulation of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist – that we believe in his presence as not merely as symbol, but that his presence is “real;” his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Furthermore, that we offer him “in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world” is both what Jesus accomplished in his death on the Cross, and what he left his Church as the memorial sacrifice in the Eucharist. Therefore, one of the motives for our prayer of the chaplet can be seen as a prayer for the more effective and faithful offering of the Eucharist.
This Eucharistic faith is directly connected to the mercy of Jesus as his mercy is his presence. When we pray for “mercy,” we pray for God’s compassion, sensitivity, forgiveness, understanding and the like. As such gifts are within the very nature of God, one simple way to consider the meaning of mercy is that God is “present” to us – in our sufferings, in our failings, in all our needs. To know the presence of God is to know his mercy. Accordingly, to be in Eucharistic Communion is to live in his mercy.
May today’s feast of Divine Mercy be a moment where all will come to know the mercy of God, growing in their desire to live that mercy in the Eucharist.