Sunday, April 15, 2007

Divine Mercy Sunday

What did you do in your parish?

We had the image of Divine Mercy displayed at each parish, still decorated for Easter. At those Masses when I was able to use incense, I incensed the image, after the cross.

Still being Easter Sunday, as it were, we had a sprinkling rite, and we used the Easter Sequence.

Homily is below.

After the noon Mass, I had a baptism -- a Polish family, which seemed fitting; In included Faustina and Casimir in the litany, but as I said to the family, "I'd like to include John Paul, but not yet."

We had exposition and the Divine Mercy devotion planned for 3 pm. We don't make a big deal of it here; a nearby parish has a big celebration, with priests hearing confessions and I don't know what all -- so we advertise that in the bulletin, and what we did was low-key.

We started with exposition, some silent prayer, and a reading and brief homily, as called for for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Then we prayed the chaplet, after that I gave Benediction, and then after returning our Lord to the tabernacle, I blessed the image of Divine Mercy. Somewhere I read that was part of the devotion, but I can't recall where. We had about 50 folks come out. Oh, and yes, I did chant the prayer. (I did better than last night, when for some reason I couldn't chant the Mass dismissal properly. I tried twice, botched it both times, and apologized and recited, "The Mass is ended, go in peace, alleluia, alleluia.")

How'd it go where you are?

(Oh, and I forgot to mention, we had a holy card for the devotion available in the pews.)


Anonymous said...

I don't mean to be controversial or offend anybody here, but did want to ask you this question. Are Catholics obligated to believe in direct revelation? (I think it's called something like that?) It covers apparitions and also the sort of "informational speeches" like the nun claimed had been made to her by Christ. Please clear this up for me. I'm sure I heard that one of the recent popes made a statement that Catholics did not have to believe in these kinds of claims, or maybe was that in the catechism? The part that bothers me is that these scenarios always seem to involve some form of contract religion, like, you do thus and so, then the other party -in this case, God - has to give you what you want. There's sort of a qualifying element there. I have trouble with indulgences. Didn't Christ die for our sins "once and for all"? If we believe that, why would we make bargains and contracts trying to get saved?? Or wouldn't penitence alone be the logical way to go for forgiveness, not performing a series of acts in a ritualistic formula? I guess you will say because this nun said Christ told her these things to do. But this happened a long time ago, in a time when it was common for ladies to have strong religious imagination. We don't know much about the nun, what if she just had a delusion? I'm not saying anything she said was bad or wrong, but isn't this one of those things the church calls - again, I don't know the right term - think it's something on the order of "pious devotion" or maybe it was private devotion, whatever.
Maybe I haven't been very clear in what I'm saying. I just wonder about these things and don't really
know how to force myself to believe some of them. Have you ever got those Forwards from people in your email where there's a little formula to follow (send this to 10 people, say four Hail Mary's, blah, blah, blah) and then your wish will come true. Sometimes it says your prayer will be answered, but other times actually says your wish will come true (many fairy tales have words similar to these). That's what contracts and bargains sound like to me when they are mixxed up in religion. I'm nervous saying these things because I know they could make some Catholics furious, but I am so interested in knowing more about this especially with regard to whether Catholics have to believe in it whether they do or not. I kind of already know I could never make myself believe in religious contracts and bargains so does this mean I should leave the Catholic church? Thanks a million for your insights.

DP said...

The parish I attended didn't do anything. Divine Mercy wasn't mentioned once, in the homily or even on the bulletin. . . I was rather let down.

One of my theology professors however is the director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA. He was there for the Divine Mercy celebrations today. . . I'll have to ask him how that went.

We don't know much about the nun, what if she just had a delusion?
Don't worry, that was her confessor's first reaction too, so he sent her to a psychologist to be checked out and questioned her superiors with regards to her character. Turned out she was completely sane.

While you do not have to have a personal devotion to St. Faustina, you would not get very far in the spiritual life (or eternal life for that matter) if you didn't believe the message of Divine Mercy. Regardless of how you feel about St. Faustina, trusting in God's divine mercy is pretty essential for all of us and it always has been. This is nothing new. Without God's mercy where would any of us stand in relation to Christ?

The Cincinnati Kid said...

Immaculate Heart of Mary in Cincinnati had no mention of Devine Mercy Sunday in the homily or bulletin. How sad.

Home School Mom: Denise said...

Hi Father,
Your liturgical touch, such as the censing of the image, is very nice!

We also have the image displayed, ours is an Byzantine icon; and mention of the Divine Mercy, etc. Some churches in our diocese hosted dinners. The Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in North Jackson usually "makes it a day" with confessions, Mass, devotions (the chaplet, a history,) and ends with a big dinner.

Part of the devotion per Sr. Faustina is to go to confession on the day of the Divine Mercy, attend Mass and receive the Blessed Sacrament; thus, the extra scheduled confessions for that day.

Anyway, enjoyed reading you were in the mix doing something in regard to this wonderful newer feast.

Denise in Ohio

Fr Martin Fox said...


I pay no attention to those forwarded emails; I think people have stopped sending them.

Of course Our Lord died for everyone, and his Blood wipes away our sins. I don't mean to be disrespectful, but think of it as the best "cleanser" there is. Got that picture?

OK: Heaven has this Cleanser, and humanity needs it. The question is, how, where, when is it applied?

Mass, Sacraments, indulgences, devotions, purgatory and everything else that is a vehicle for God's grace, are the "how, when and where" the Cleanser is applied. But they aren't an alternate remedy. They are the same remedy, which is subject to lots of uses.

Catholics aren't obliged to believe any private revelation. So don't believe or practice the Divine Mercy devotion if you wish.

That doesn't mean its not authentic; only that there's nothing in this or any private revelation that can add anything to what is revealed "publicly" -- i.e., in the Deposit of Faith (Scripture and Tradition), and in Jesus Christ, the fullness of revelation.

Kasia said...

Our parish had:

A 3 p.m. Divine Mercy Mass, with confessions available before (and throughout, as it turned out, because the lines were so long);

Rosary prayed before the Mass;

Divine Mercy chaplet chanted after the Mass, with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament during the chaplet.

Oh - and our new Adoration chapel, which was just dedicated on Holy Thursday, is dedicated to the Divine Mercy. That's the focal point of the chapel: an 8-or-10 foot portrait of the Divine Mercy.

...and we're not even a Polish parish! :-)

Fr Martin Fox said...


I disagree with you on one point: the devotion does not require confession on the same day.

As with all indulgenced works, one can go to confession several days before or after.

I'm not against arranging a service with confessors, but many may not appreciate the practical difficulties in arranging confessors for a Sunday afternoon.

So, what works is to have a big celebration at a particular parish (rather than everywhere), and have confessors there.

Insisting that confessions must be heard on that day will not make pastors want to promote this devotion.

(All that said--as always, if someone asks me to hear his confession, I will do so if I possibly can. Sunday someone asked, just before we began; and I said I'd do it after.)

Kasia said...

The program at our parish said that confessions may be made up to two weeks before and after Divine Mercy Sunday.

(Of course, my first confession was two weeks AND ONE DAY before now I need to make a point of going back next weekend...)

Anonymous said...

At St. Thomas Aquinas in Hudson, Quebec, Canada --- nothing. Nothing in the homily, nothing in the bulletin. Higher than usual noise level among choir members Very distracting to organist (me). Had to pray and focus extra-hard to keep my cool. People were even chatting in the Communion line! Don't know why this beautiful devotion was ignored in our parish, but we're missing out on a lot, because we all need the Lord's mercy. Please pray for our parish.

Anonymous said...

Father, thank you for your explanations. They are very helpful in my efforts to understand.

Sara said...

Paul H--

What mass did you go to? It was mentioned in the homily at the 9:30 am Mass.


Anonymous said...

I live on the Jersey shore, where Divine Mercy Sunday (DMS) is extremely popular. I attended Divine Mercy Services at a neighboring parish.

The services were scheduled to start at 3:00 PM, but since the lines for confession were so long, 2 priests began hearing confessions at 2:30 PM instead. Good thing they decided to start early. I hadn't seen so many people lined up to confess in decades. Moreover, and although I can't say for certain, I suspect that many of the people on line hadn't been to confession in quite some time. Seeing that many lapsed Catholics "come home" was nothing short of amazing!

At about 3:30 PM, and while the priests were still hearing confessions, the two deacons that ran the services showed a video on the large wall next to the altar. The video talked about St. Faustina and gave a great overview of DMS. After the video, prayers were recited and the deacon spoke for a few moments. The Blessed Sacrament was then exposed on the Altar and the Divine Mercy Chaplet was recited. Actually we sang it, and sang it is such a beautiful way that I doubt I will soon forget how truly amazing this day was. After the Benediction, The Blessed Sacrament was returned to the Tabernacle and some concluding prayers were recited, including prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father.

The DMS services ended around 4:45PM. I stayed in the pews and attended the 5:00 PM Mass. Overall, it was a great day! I felt like not only was I baptized for a second time, I felt as if I had watched hundreds of my neighbors do the same.

St. Veronica's Parish Community in Howell, New Jersey

Anonymous said...

At my parish in San Jose, Holy Family parish, the pastor lead us doing the chaplet of Divine Mercy after the 11:15 Mass. The associate pastor also lead a group doing the chaplet at 3 pm in our chapel (he does adoration and the chaplet every Sunday at 3 pm). Both chaplets were done with the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Prayer cards and Divine Mercy pamphlets were available to all parishioners so they could learn more about Sr. Faustina and the Divine Mercy.

Jean Heimann said...

In our (large) parish, Divine Mercy
Sunday began with the recitation of the rosary at 2:30 p.m. followed by the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3:00 p.m. Afterwards, Holy Mass was celebrated. We had several high school students doing the cantoring and ushering at this special Mass. The celebrant sprinkled holy water and there was lots of incense at this Mass as well as a special homily on God's mercy. Prayers were said for the special intentions of the Holy Father. It was over about 4:05 p.m. It was well attended as the church was full and people were even standing up in the back of the church.

It was a nice day and it would have been great to have an outdoor procession but that would have added to the the length and perhaps some wouldn't have stayed until the end.

We had a large banner with the Divine mercy image in the front of the church and a smaller framed picture on the altar.

There were no Confessions at that time, but we were told to go at another time and Confessions are readily available during the week so that was not a problem.

It was a beautiful celebration!

Allie said...

I am up at school right now and the parish at which I attended Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday did not have anything more than a passing mention. Not even an image.

I know it was different at my home parish where my pastor has a very fervent devotion to the Divine Mercy. He always has a great homily for Divine Mercy Sunday so I missed that too.

There were no devotions to the Divine Mercy at this parish which makes me think that I should have gone to the other parish to which my friends and I usually go.

I love your blog, Father, keep up the good work! I would be honored if you were to include my blog in your blogroll.

God bless you and Mary keep you!

Anonymous said...

"Anon" from Canada checking in again. There actually was a mention of DMS in the parish bulletin, but that was all. No image, no celebration, nothing in the homily. Perhaps next year, God willing!

Anonymous said...

At our parish, north of St. Boniface, Father did a wonderful job incorporating the Divine Mercy theme into his homily, and then encouraged everyone to return at 3:00 for the Chaplet, Exposition, confession, and Benediction. It was incredibly beautiful. Oh--and if anyone would like some of those cards Father Fox referred to... a couple in California prints them and will send at no cost to you if you send postage to them at: Divine Mercy Team, P.O. Box 2695, Santa Rosa, CA 95405. Send them $10 and you'll get a couple of boxes...

Ann S.

Anonymous said...

At the two Masses I was at, our deacon preached about the history of Divine Mercy Sunday and the history of the images, and how it/they relate to the Gospel reading for the day. He had our parish's large print of the Skemp version of the image propped up against the ambo. I don't know what the homily was at the other two Masses that he didn't preach at.

The second Mass was enlivened by part of the nave ceiling falling mid-homily due to the weight of water accumulated above it. (Apparently our roof is leaking.) No injuries, fortunately, but I'm guessing that I wasn't the only one whose attention was a bit lacking during the rest of the Mass.