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 16, 2023, recalls the encounter between St. Thomas and Jesus after the Resurrection.
Divine Mercy Sunday celebrates the mercy of Jesus as reminded to 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. She was canonized by St. John Paul II in 2000, who at that time declared the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday, which honors St. Faustina’s vision of Jesus Christ – His message of love and peace for the world.
St. Faustina wrote in her diary what Jesus told her through private revelation: “I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy (1109). The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion will obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment (699).”
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.” Jesus told St. Faustina 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.
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. 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.
At Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers, Divine Mercy Sunday included the traditional afternoon prayer service. As is usual for such services, the Divine Mercy image was placed on a stand in front of the altar.
The service included an introductory rite, prayer of entrustment, the Liturgy of the Word, followed by a reflection from Deacon Rip Ripperton. Next, was the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.
Also called the Divine Mercy Chaplet, this prayer is recited using ordinary rosary beads of five decades. The Chaplet is preceded by two opening prayers from the diary of Saint Faustina. At Our Lady of Light, this portion was accompanied by music.
On the traditional “Our Father” beads, the following was recited: “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.” On the 10 small beads of each decade, the following was sung: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
Following the Chaplet, faithful who had completed a “33 Days to Mercy Retreat” recited a special prayer. Then came the Litany of the Divine Mercy and the veneration of the Blessed Sacrament. The prayer service concluded with Benediction and a final reflection on Divine Mercy.
During this reflection, it concluded with the following:
“As a gift of humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness, and fear, the Risen Lord offers His love that pardons, reconciles, and reopens hearts to love. It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy! Lord, who reveals the Father’s love by Your death and Resurrection, we believe in You and confidently repeat to You today: Jesus, I trust in You, have mercy upon us and upon the whole world.”
Following the prayer service, the faithful were invited to come forward and pray before the image of Divine Mercy.
In a Divine Mercy Sunday address from the Vatican, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to ask themselves if in the name of Jesus’ wounds, they are willing to open their arms to others, especially the wounded, so that no one is excluded from God’s mercy.