Marian Helper Spring_2013 - page 9

Why is Divine Mercy Sunday the most
important element of the message and
devotion that Jesus gave to St. Faustina?
If we examine all of the elements of the
Divine Mercy message and devotion, we
soon realize that they all exist to prepare us for,
and to point us toward, the “Feast of Mercy,”
which our Lord asked for (see
, 699). He
desired that the Feast be celebrated on the
Second Sunday of Easter. Indeed, the readings
and prayers for Mass on that day reflect God’s
great mercy. We are encouraged to pray the
Divine Mercy Novena and Chaplet to prepare for
the Feast, whichmany people do at three o’clock,
the Hour of Great Mercy. The image of the
Divine Mercy is to be venerated on the Feast of
Mercy. Works of mercy are to be performed
“always and everywhere,” but especially on
Divine Mercy Sunday, “out of love for [Jesus]”
, 742).
In fact, many parishes celebrate the Feast of
Mercy more solemnly by venerating the image at
Mass and then celebrating a Holy Hour at three
o’clock, with the chaplet and other prayers.
Further, consider that Divine Mercy Sunday is
the Octave Day of Easter, the Church’s greatest
feast. Great feasts in the Bible were celebrated
for eight days, with the first and last days being
celebrated more solemnly. The last day was even
considered the greatest day of the feast. It’s sig-
nificant, then, that Jesus made special promises
about the Feast of Mercy. For those who go to
confession (preferably during Lent) and receive
Holy Communion worthily on the day, the Lord
promises “complete forgiveness of sins and
punishment” (
, 699).
The whole purpose of the Feast of Mercy is
to prepare us for the Second Coming of Christ.
While we are still here on earth, the most power-
ful way of meeting our Lord is through the
Sacraments. The Risen Savior wishes to meet us
in a special way on the Octave Day of Easter,
offering us extraordinary graces through the
Sacraments as a sign of His great mercy.
Why do we give alms? And why is
almsgiving especially encouraged
during Lent?
The Gospel reading for AshWednesday
(see Mt 6:1-6, 16-18) speaks of giving
alms, fasting, and praying. This Gospel passage
sets the tone for the season of Lent and teaches
us what our priorities should be during this
important time of preparation for Easter.
The word alms comes from a Greek word that
means pity or mercy. Almsgiving involves chari-
table material assistance to the poor for the sake
of Christ. All who are blessed with possessions
are to give thanks to God by sharing what they
have with those in need. Jesus frequently spoke
about this in the Gospels.
It is an especially helpful spiritual practice
during Lent, since it is one of the paths to
conversion of heart. We can easily become too
attached to our possessions, even seeking to find
our identity in them. Jesus frequently spoke
about the dangers that can ensnare the rich,
who can see themselves as being the center of
all things and completely self-sufficient.
We are dependent on God for every breath
that we take. Therefore, self-sufficiency is an
illusion. By freely giving away some of what we
own, we acknowledge that God is at the center
and that we are more than just the sum of what
we own. All that we have comes to us from our
loving Father in heaven, who invites us to share
with our brothers and sisters who are suffering
fromwant. In this way, we can discover our true
identity as children of the Heavenly
Father and as brothers and sisters
of all God’s children. We can
draw closer to others by sharing
what we have with them.
This also liberates us from a
type of isolation and individual-
ism, which is characteristic of
our world today. If we recall
the example of the widow
in the Gospel whom Jesus
praised for giving from her
want, we can see how
almsgiving can lead to
purity of heart. It
reminds us that we need
to place our trust in God
and not in ourselves.
with Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC
Ask a
Why is Mercy Sunday so important?
Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC, welcomes your questions. Send them to: Ask a Marian,
Editorial, Eden Hill, Stockbridge, MA 01263, or e-mail
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