Divine Mercy Sunday: Prayer Service for Forgiveness and Healing

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 11, 2021) recalls the encounter between St. Thomas and Jesus after the Resurrection.

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 and is a time to remind the faithful that the Lord’s Mercy has no end.

This year, the marking of Divine Mercy Sunday at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice incorporated a prayer service for healing and forgiveness for anyone who has been touched by a pregnancy loss.

“Sometimes in a loss – whether it is through a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion – so much is going on; the hurt is so strong one might believe they can’t approach the Lord,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane said. “Divine Mercy Sunday is here to remind us to call upon the Lord for the forgiveness, compassion, and mercy regardless of how we got there.”

“While one might be afraid to approach the Lord in the context of shame or fear, Divine Mercy Sunday is about the all-encompassing power of God to forgive,” the Bishop added. “Just as the Apostles were locked in the upper room with fear when Jesus Christ appeared to them, we lock ourselves in – so alone – thinking the Lord can’t forgive us. No matter what it is we lock inside, this must not prevent us from seeking forgiveness.”

Father Shawn Monahan, OMV, Epiphany Cathedral Parochial Vicar, who counsels women who have suffered the loss of a child through abortion, stillbirth and miscarriage, also reflected on the power of Divine Mercy Sunday.

“The mercy is never with condemnation and always with compassion,” Father Monahan said. “Healing takes time, so we must be patient with ourselves in the process, in walking with the Lord, and tuning our ears to hear His voice and to trust in His love and mercy.”

Divine Mercy Sunday is a tradition in Parishes throughout the Diocese and the world, celebrating the mercy of Jesus as recalled 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 being canonized by St. Pope John Paul II in 2000 and at that time declared the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.

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 Jesus represent water – which makes souls righteous — and blood — which is the life of souls, Jesus told St. Faustina.

Among the practices associated with the devotion are its novena, the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy (a series of prayers organized similarly to a rosary), the Hour of Great Mercy (a time of prayer traditionally celebrated at 3 p.m.), and a plenary indulgence granted to those who receive the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Divine Mercy Sunday.

The Epiphany Cathedral service included the singing of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation as well as a display of the Divine Mercy image and a relic of St. Faustina.

Epiphany Cathedral has a long history of celebrating St. Faustina as a devotion to her dates to the founding of the Diocese of Venice in 1984 when a weekly Mass in Polish began there. Earlier on Divine Mercy Sunday, a Mass in English, Polish and Spanish was celebrated and afterwards was also the opportunity for prayer before the relic of St. Faustina.

A video of the full service can be found at https://vimeo.com/536429647

News Briefs for the Week of April 2, 2021

Palm Sunday opens Holy Week

The opening of Mass on the Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, begins with the Procession with Palms and a reading of the Gospel of Mark (11:1-10), describing the scene of the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem days before He was put to death and resurrected . This opening is followed by the blessing of the palms and marks the start of Holy Week with the Easter Triduum beginning at sunset on Holy Thursday and continuing until the Great Easter Vigil.

Easter Sunday Televised Mass

The Diocese of Venice in Florida will air the televised Easter Sunday Mass, for a full hour. The Mass can be viewed at 9 a.m. on the CW Network in Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto, Charlotte, Hardee and Highland counties, and at 10:30 a.m. on FOX4 in Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades and Desoto counties. The Mass is also available on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass.

Livestream moves from Catholic Center to Epiphany Cathedral Parish

After more than a year of livestreaming the Mass from the Catholic Center, beginning April 1, 2021 the livestream of the daily and weekend Masses will be broadcast at 8 a.m. from Epiphany Cathedral Parish. You will still be able to find the Masses on the Diocese of Venice Facebook page found www.facebook.com/dioceseofvenice or at www.facebook.com/epiphanycathedral.

Bishop celebrates Mass for students in Fort Myers

Bishop Frank J. Dewane finished his round of celebrating Mass for students in Diocese of Venice Catholic schools with the latest stops on March 25, 2021, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, at Bishop Verot Catholic High School and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers.

During these Masses, Bishop Dewane stressed how the Lenten Season is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of our Faith. He also fielded questions from the eighth graders at St. Francis Xavier.

Divine Mercy Sunday Prayer Service

On Sunday, April 11, all are invited to join Bishop Frank J. Dewane in a Prayer Service for Forgiveness and Healing from pregnancy loss from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Avenue West, Venice. The Prayer Service will also be livestreamed at www.facebook.com/DioceseofVenice. Contact Sylvia at 941-412-5860 or project.rachel@dioceseofvenice.org for any questions.

Bishop celebrates Mass for students at Ave Maria University

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass on the Vigil of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, March 27, 2021, for the students and faculty of Ave Maria University. Following Mass was a community celebration of the Feast Day of the University, the Annunciation of Our Lord, moved from March 25 to the weekend to allow everyone to participate. The outdoor festivities included a barbeque dinner as well as musical entertainment.

Mass for Victims of Child Abuse April 16

April is Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month, and in conjunction with the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Diocese of Venice will hold a Mass for Victims of Child Abuse for the 14th consecutive year. Bishop Frank J. Dewane is the Celebrant of the Mass at 8 a.m. on April 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass will be livestreamed through www.facebook.com/dioceseofvenice, and all are welcome to attend as we come together to pray for the victims of abuse.

Evangelizing Catechesis: Survey of the new Directory for Catechesis

The Diocese Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation is offering an online course surveying the new how-to guide, the Directory for Catechesis, published by the Vatican in 2020. This new edition of the Directory emphasizes how to incorporate evangelization throughout the entire process of catechesis. This course is for Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education, catechists, schoolteachers, adult faith formators, RCIA teams, parents — anyone who teaches the Faith. Co-teachers of the course are Dr. John Gresham, Director of the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation, Anne Chrzan, Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Venice, and Joshua Mazrin, Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Venice. The six-week course starts April 19, 2021. There is a $25 fee to take the course. Visit the Institute website for more information and to register at www.insitute-dov.org or contact the director for more information: john.gresham@institute-dov.org.

Parent Cyber Security Presentation

The Offices of Family Life and Religious Education are hosting a free parent event “Protecting God’s Children Online in a Hyper Digital Age.” Cyber security expert Liz Repking will cover keeping kids safe from cyber bullying, online predators, sexting, online gaming, and how to help children create an escape plan when trouble arises. There are two opportunities to attend: April 14, 2021 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice, and April 15 at St. Francis Xavier Parish, 2057 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers. Both presentations are from 6:30-8 p.m. Registration by April 10 is required for planning purposes at  https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/protecting-gods-children-online-in-a-hyper-digital-age.

 

 

Divine Mercy in Our Souls

By Joshua Mazrin – Special to the Florida Catholic

Divine Mercy Sunday has been celebrated since April 20, 2000, after being instituted as a Solemnity by Pope St. John Paul II. The day marks the octave of Easter and is focused on the tremendous gift of God’s Mercy for all of mankind.

This beautiful message of Mercy for the whole world was given to St. Faustina Kowalska, a Sister of Our Lady of Mercy from Poland in the 1920s and 30s. God chose to use a humble little sister, a young girl with only a second-grade education, to bring about a devotion that would open the floodgates of heaven so that more souls would come to know God’s love.

“Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God. All the works of My hands are crowned with mercy,” (Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of St. Faustina, 301), the Lord told St. Faustina when charging her to spread this message even to the ends of the earth. This was quite the task to ask of the Saint-to-be.

“Oh, if sinners knew My mercy, they would not perish in such great numbers. Tell sinful souls not to be afraid to approach Me; speak to them of My great mercy” (Diary, 1396). These words spoken by Our Lord were not meant for St. Faustina alone, but for each one of us. The Lord calls each of us to proclaim this Mercy to all we encounter.

This calls to mind the words of St. Paul, who in his letter to the Romans said, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more” (Romans 5:20). There is no question that the world is filled with sin and each one of us is tempted in some way toward it. But now is not a time to abandon hope.

Just like the Cross itself, the Lord’s Mercy seems scandalous. It is scandalous the amount of love with which God loves us.

“I perform works of mercy in every soul. The greater the sinner, the greater right he has to My mercy. My mercy is confirmed in every work of My hands. He who trusts in My Mercy will not perish, for all his affairs are Mine” (Diary, 723).

There are no exclusions here. This Mercy is available for every soul. The necessary response is to simply repent and to trust. No sin is too big for God’s Mercy.

Alongside the teachings of Divine Mercy, the Lord gave also the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Novena of Divine Mercy. These are simple ways to live the Lord’s call to trust in His Mercy and bring it to those around us.

The Divine Mercy Chaplet comes with the promise of great graces. It is prayed using the same beads of the rosary and consists of the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Apostles Creed with short prayers focused on obtaining mercy.

“The souls that say this chaplet will be embraced by My mercy during their lifetime and especially at the hour of their death” (Diary, 754).

These words which God spoke to St. Faustina say it all:

“Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy. I desire that the whole world know My infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy” (Diary, 687).

To understand the message of Divine Mercy requires a look at the Passion of Christ.  The glory is tied to the suffering. Yes, this is a strange concept, but even spouses know the sacrifice made for one another. Parents know the great love in sacrificing for their children.

The way in which we are united to Christ is through suffering, death, and resurrection. “…if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified in him” (Romans 8:17).

On this 20th anniversary of the institution of Divine Mercy Sunday, there is certainly no shortage on suffering and the world is indeed in great need of God’s Mercy. The faithful must turn to God in their own homes with Churches still closed due to the current state of affairs.

“O soul steeped in darkness, do not despair. All is not yet lost. Come and confide in your God, who is love and mercy… My child, listen to the voice of your merciful Father” (Diary, 1486).

God has not abandoned His Church; Christ has not abandoned His flock. We are with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, we are with Him at the Cross on Calvary, but we are also with Him leaving the tomb on the morning of Easter Sunday and standing in His blessing of Divine Mercy, healing, and forgiveness this coming Divine Mercy Sunday.

What you can do:

  • Say the Divine Mercy Chaplet with your family;
  • Finish the Divine Mercy Novena;
  • Meditate on and thank the Lord for His Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection;
  • Read the Diary of St. Faustina (and Scripture, of course!);
  • Go to Confession as soon as you are able.

Do not be afraid to approach the Lord and His Mercy. Do not be afraid to make a change in your life to grow in holiness. It is the Lord’s delight “to act in a human soul and to fill it with [His] mercy” (Diary, 1784). It is the Lord’s delight to fill you with His Mercy.

“My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world. Who can measure the extent of my goodness? For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed myself to be nailed to the cross; for you I let my Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain. I never reject a contrite heart. Your misery has disappeared in the depths of My mercy” (Diary, 1485).

Joshua Mazrin is the Diocese of Venice Director of Evangelization. He can be reached at mazrin@dioceseofvenice.org.

Divine Mercy Sunday “Jesus, I trust in You”

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

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 28, recalls the encounter between St. Thomas and Jesus after the Resurrection.

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. Each year many parishes throughout the Diocese hold Divine Mercy services and novenas. The popularity of Divine Mercy has been noticed and embraced by many diverse communities throughout the Diocese.

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 Jesus represent water – which makes souls righteous — and blood — which is the life of souls, Jesus told St. Faustina.

At St. William Parish in Naples, Divine Mercy Sunday included the traditional afternoon prayer service. This included Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a reflection from Father Anthony Lukka, recitation of the Divine Mercy Litany, singing of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and concluded with a veneration of the image of Divine Mercy. A large newly-created painting of the Divine Mercy image, by Rosalie Polivika Ramstead, was on display during the prayer service.

The prayer service began with a procession which brought the Divine Mercy image forward while being escorted by the Color Corps of the Knights of Columbus. First children, then adults placed red and white flowers before the image.

Divine Mercy Sunday serves as an important time to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ of our own need to be merciful and that no sin is too great to receive the Lord’s forgiveness, Father Lukka explained.

“Don’t take forgiveness for granted,” he warned. “You must ask for forgiveness, which will help you grow closer to Jesus Christ.”

Georgina Stringer loves the Divine Mercy devotion and takes part in the Novena of Divine Mercy which begins on Good Friday. “It is comforting to know that this devotion exists to allow us all to pray as one as we trust in the Lord to bring mercy upon the world.”

Pope Francis describes the Catholic Church as the “Church of Mercy” and stresses the importance that everyone “be apostles of God’s Mercy.”

From the Vatican on Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis reflected on Christ’s wounds, which he said contain the difficulties and persecutions endured by people who suffer today.

“Touch the wounds of Jesus,” Pope Francis said. “The wounds of Jesus are a treasure from which mercy comes.”

Divine Mercy Sunday: “Jesus, I trust in You”

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

4/10/18

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 recalls the encounter between St. Thomas and Jesus after the Resurrection.

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. Each year dozens of parishes throughout the Diocese hold Divine Mercy services and novenas. The popularity of Divine Mercy has been noticed and embraced by the many diverse communities throughout the Diocese.

Divine Mercy Sunday became a tradition in a few short years as parishes throughout the Diocese and the world celebrate the mercy of Jesus recalled 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 being canonized by St. Pope John Paul II in 2000 who at that time declared the Second Sunday of Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.

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 Jesus represent water – which makes souls righteous — and blood — which is the life of souls, Jesus told St. Faustina.

Among the practices associated with the devotion are its novena, the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy (a series of prayers organized similarly to a rosary), the Hour of Great Mercy (a time of prayer traditionally celebrated at 3 p.m.), and the plenary indulgence granted to those who receive the Eucharist and celebrate reconciliation on Divine Mercy Sunday.

At Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice, the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday included a traditional afternoon prayer service. This included a blessing of the image of Mercy, prayer of consecration to the image of Mercy, the singing of Chaplet of Divine Mercy, veneration of the image of Mercy, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Adoration, Benediction, the Divine Praises and a closing hymn. An image of the St. Faustina painting was on display during the prayer service.

For Joan Conway, participating in the Divine Mercy Sunday celebration has become something she looks forward to each year as the Divine Mercy image is one that speaks to her deeply. As such, she participates in the Novena of Divine Mercy beginning on Good Friday and looks forward to the prayer service on the Second Sunday of Easter.

“It is truly a great way to transition from Lent into the Easter Season,” Conway said. “The bridge carries me through the Passion of the Lord, the Resurrection and now His appearing before the Disciples and being merciful to St. Thomas. So wonderful to participate in that is such a special way.”

The Solemnity of Divine Mercy Sunday is a time to remind the faithful that the Lord’s Mercy has no end.

 

In St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that “every time we are forgiven, we are reassured and encouraged, because each time we experience more love, and more embraced by the Father. And when we fall again, precisely because we are loved, we experience even greater sorrow – a beneficial sorrow that slowly detaches us from sin.”

 

The celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday is an opportunity to reflect on the theme of how God’s Mercy can overcome sin and, as the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments states, “a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind [sic] will experience in the years to come.”

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