The Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday, completes the Octave of Easter, a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the blessing of His continuing presence in our midst. The Gospel reading for Divine Mercy Sunday, April 24, 2022, recalls the encounter between St. Thomas and Jesus after the Resurrection.
Dedicated by St. John Paul II, Divine Mercy Sunday honors St. Faustina’s vision of Jesus Christ – His message of love and peace for the world. For many in the Diocese of Venice, the Feast of Divine Mercy takes on a powerful meaning when they participate in a private or public prayer called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
Divine Mercy Sunday celebrates the mercy of Jesus as reminded us by St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a religious sister who lived a humble life to whom Jesus appeared. St. Faustina was born in Krakow, Poland and lived from 1905-1938 being canonized by St. John Paul II in 2000, who at that time declared the Second Sunday of Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.
St. Faustina wrote in her diary what Jesus told her: “I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls but especially for poor sinners. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon these souls who approach the fount of My Mercy… let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be many.”
The image of the Divine Mercy was created by St. Faustina who was told to paint the image of Jesus as she saw Him. The painting has the saying at the bottom: “Jesus, I Trust in You.” The rays emanating from the Sacred Heart of Jesus represent water (white) – which makes souls righteous — and blood (red) — which is the life of souls, Jesus told St. Faustina.
Many Parishes throughout the Diocese hold Divine Mercy services and several have novenas of prayer leading up to the Sunday. The popularity of Divine Mercy has been embraced by many diverse communities throughout the Diocese. The 2022 commemoration of Divine Mercy Sunday marked a return of the devotion to near its pre-pandemic peak.
At St. William Parish in Naples, Divine Mercy Sunday included the traditional afternoon prayer service. This opened with a procession with the Color Corps of the Knights of Columbus followed by children and adults who placed red and white flowers before the image, then the image was blessed with holy water. Next, was an Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a reflection from Father Steven Clemente, a recitation of the Divine Mercy Litany, and singing of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. The prayer service concluded with a veneration of the image of Divine Mercy. A large painting of the Divine Mercy image, created in 2019 for the Parish by Rosalie Polivika Ramstead, was on display during the prayer service.
During the prayer service, Father Clemente said we all need to show mercy to everyone in our lives, whether they are a family member, neighbor, friend, coworker, or a stranger.
“Are we looking at them as Jesus looks at them? Mercy enables us to forgive and to remember,” Father Clemente said. “Not merely to forgive and forget, but we must remember as we do Christ’s Resurrection, but we must also remember His persecution on the cross.”
Father Clemente added that we must all learn from our mistakes and take the past and “convert the garbage into compost” and let it grow into something new and good.
“It is the renewing process of Divine Mercy that enables each of us to grow,” Father continued. “View it as an opportunity to get better, to say ‘From this day forward I am going to show mercy and love that God is calling me to.’ To not point out imperfections. It’s all about mercy.”
During the prayer service at St. William Parish several reflections and passages from the diary of St. Faustina were read. At the conclusion, the faithful were invited to come forward and pray before the image of Divine Mercy.
Fred and Barb Goduti organized the St. William Parish observance and were pleased that people returned to this important prayer service after a long absence. The intentions for the prayer service were for the Lord’s Mercy to come upon all, as well as for peace in the troubled world.
From the Vatican, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to remember in their lives when they have experienced God’s forgiveness and the joy and peace that forgiveness brings.
“It is good for us to remember those moments. Let us put the memory of God’s warm embrace before the memory of our own mistakes and failings. In this way, we will grow in joy,” Pope Francis said.
Noting the Gospel reading of the day, when Thomas demands to see proof of Christ’s Resurrection before he believes, Pope Francis said it is in those moments of crisis “when we need to touch and see. Like Thomas, it is precisely in those moments that we rediscover the heart of Christ, the Lord’s mercy. In those situations, Jesus does not approach us in triumph and with overwhelming proofs. He does not perform earth-shattering miracles, but instead offers us heartwarming signs of his mercy. He comforts us in the same way he did in today’s Gospel: He offers us His wounds.”