Sunday, April 19, 2020

Divine Mercy Sunday: We Need Mercy Today

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday.  It is the day that the mercy of God shines greatly over those who choose to receive it.  Our Lord Jesus appeared to St. Sister Faustina of Polish origin in the 30's.  He instructed her about God's mercy and how sin offends God but that sin doesn't have the last say.

God is a just God.  Many Atheists, Skeptics and others question God's wrath which is highly illustrated through words in the Old Testament.

"How can this be a good God?"  they cry out in disgust.  Well God is good.  God has to be just in order for good to have a chance in a world full of evil and sin.

If crimes go unpunished, then we will live in an anything goes society which will eventually collapse.  This is why we have laws and judicial systems in order to keep the common good afloat.  God is no different.  The God of the universe is just and does punish when necessary.  Moreover, this punishment is no different than a parent disciplining his/her child.  We belong to God and He can do whatever He wants with us.

However, the Divine Mercy devotion sheds more light into God's justice.  God above all is merciful.  There is no sin He cannot forgive.  There is no evil that is greater than God's mercy.

Jesus left St. Faustina a chaplet that we should pray everyday at 3:00 PM if possible.  This hour is of course the time Jesus completed His redemptive act on the Cross for all peoples in every time and place.  The chaplet is simple and easy to pray with Rosary beads.

How to pray the Chaplet:

1. Begin with the Sign of the Cross1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and The Apostles Creed.


2. Then on the Our Father Beads say 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.

3. On the 10 Hail Mary Beads say the following:

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
(Repeat step 2 and 3 for all five decades).

4. Conclude with(three times):

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.



God is love and wants to forgive us all.  Approach His mercy with faith, hope and love and He will forgive you!  

Today's first reading tells us how the first Catholics lived. They devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles, or the magisterium of the Church and lived in community. This would be the prototypes of the parish or religious life.  They would also break bread and prayed. This, of course, is the Mass or the Eucharistic celebration of the sacrifice of Jesus.  Many wonders happened among them, or miracles.  All those who believed were united and had all things in common. There was no division or schisms. 

The first Catholics helped each other out. They sold things to help others and shared things to help each other in their need.  There was even daily Mass. First, they went to the temple every day and then broke bread at home.  This was the early Mass. The Catholic Church did not have magestic churches or cathedrals. The church was at home. The Liturgy of the Word was first done at the temple where they heard the Word of God, the Old Testament. There was no New Testament yet. Then they went home and had the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Eucharist was celebrated at private homes and reserved there. This is our history that we should recall and learn about. Some Catholics who called themselves "traditionalists" love to set Trent as the "proper" point that reflects authentic Catholicism. This is silly and ignorant. Before Trent, there was no unified Mass. Each region had its own rite. The claim that the "Latin Mass" is the only rite is just nonsense. 

In fact, the first Masses were in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek. Latin came later. The Mass rite from Trent was not used in the early Church. Claims to the contrary is based on poor knowledge and fanaticism. The rites of the Mass have been in development since the early days. It began as the Last Supper, then as what we read today in the first reading and continued to adapt until what we have now: the Extraordinary form and Ordinary Form.  This is only for the Roman Rite of course. Other rites developed in their own way, but all have the two main hinges: Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Mass is not just a place to worship. It is also a place of community. As we read in the reading, the first disciples and followers were unified and helped each other. Unfortunately today, we have many schisms among the faithful. One group says they are the true Catholics because they pray in Latin, while another says they are the true Catholics because they accept Vatican II.  This is not the way to go about the Catholic faith.  

On Twitter, I read a tweet from someone replying to another Catholic who said the Pre-Vatican II liturgy created an atmosphere of ignorance among the laity where they just sat and prayed the Rosary at Mass without understanding what was going on.  The replier stated that understanding was not necessary, that people go to worship God.  While that is partially true, the replier failed to understand the need for community. The Church is a family, a community. The first reading tells us the importance of communal life. We are the Body of Christ with distinct parts working within one system. One part cannot work independently of the other. There has to be community.  In this community, we worship God and give thanks, as the Responsorial Psalm tells us.  

We go to God's how and recall how His mercy endures forever. Today this is significant in that the homes of the laity have become small churches.  Like in the first century, Catholics are praying at home. We recall God's mercy on this day especially, Divine Mercy Sunday.  We are reminded of God's compassion.  The second reading tells us of this great mercy of God which gives new birth and hope.  It reminds us that we have an inheritance in heaven and the importance of faith during trials.  The Gospel tells us of Christ appearing to the apostles after His resurrection. He tells them "peace be with you." We all need peace today. So many are afraid and worried about the covid-19 coronavirus and the economic impacts it has caused. These are not to overshadow the loss of life and the fact that many families did not say goodbye to their sick loved ones and are now unable to have a proper funeral and burial for them.  The whole situation is horrible.  Nevertheless, they bring us to our knees to ask God for mercy.  God replies to us with "peace be with you."  The world cannot give peace, only God.  Jesus in the Gospel gives the apostles the power to forgive the sins of others.  

Many Protestants believe confession is a man-made idea. They think the popes and priests made this up. The truth is that Jesus gave us this Sacrament of Penance.  We must make use of it by going to confession and receiving absolution and the peace of God that comes with it.  I know many of you reading this, if not all, can attest to that sense of peace and relief one feels after confession. You come out of the "box" feeling brand new and at ease. It feels like an internal massage that released the tension and stress sin brought to the body and soul. Confession is awesome and I recommend it.  Before psychotherapies existed, there was confession which brings healing both spiritually and emotionally. Lastly, we read of Thomas doubting that Jesus was truly before Him. Jesus tells him to put his finger in his wounds. Thomas, in a sense, represents atheists, skeptics and agnostics who need to "see evidence" or have empirical pronouncements that reflect actual reality.  Jesus invites us to get closer to Him and feel His wounds. It is His wounds that bring us to strong faith because we see how much God loved us. We can find God in nature and the awesomeness of the universe, but we can find God truly in the wounds of Christ. Those wounds express: God is Love.  

This is why Thomas replied, "My Lord and my God!"  We experience the Divine Mercy when we approach Jesus and feel His wounds. It is no wonder why Jesus appeared with two rays in the image. Those rays come forth from His wounded heart.  Jesus is always working in us. This is why in the Gospel we read that Jesus did other signs, so many that they were not recorded.  Not everything is in the Bible. The Gospel reminds us this. Jesus did many more things which we may never know about until we meet Him face to face and He reveals everything. In the meantime, let us take advantage of God's Divine Mercy, go to confession and try very hard to live in unity and community. Let us learn the roots of our Mass and faith and not designate set points in time as the point of authentic Catholic faith or Liturgy. The Catholic Church is a work in progress.  Let us pray to the Divine Mercy for the world today plagued with this mysterious virus which may be nature at work or even man's meddling with genetics. Only God can save us from nature and ourselves.  Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us!  We need mercy today!

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