Have you ever taken the time to think about the many times we ask for or refer to the mercy of God in our liturgy?
- May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to eternal life. (Penitential Rite)
- Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. (Kyrie)
- Lord Jesus Christ . . . you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; . . . you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. (Gloria)
- To us, also, your servants, who, though sinners, hope in your abundant mercies . . . (Eucharistic Prayer I)
- Remember . . . all who have died in your mercy . . . Have mercy on us all, we pray . . . (Eucharistic Prayer II)
- For you came in mercy to the aid of all . . . Grant, O merciful Father, that we may enter into a heavenly inheritance . . . (Eucharistic Prayer IV)
- Deliver us, Lord, we pray . . . that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin . . . (Prayer following the Our Father)
- Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. (Agnus Dei)
- May the receiving of your Body and Blood, Lord Jesus Christ, not bring me to judgment and condemnation, but through your loving mercy be for me protection in mind and body and a healing remedy. (Priest’s Prayer in Preparation for Receiving for Holy Communion)
While mercy in our contemporary thinking may be associated with an act of pardon from punishment, in Catholic theology there is much more to it.
“Divine Mercy is God’s Love reaching down to meet the needs and overcome the miseries of His creatures. . . . Divine Mercy, therefore, is the form that God's eternal love takes when He reaches out to us in the midst of our need and our brokenness. Whatever the nature of our need or our misery might be — sin, guilt, suffering, or death — He is always ready to pour out His merciful, compassionate love for us, to help in time of need. . . .” (Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD)
The Sunday in the Octave of Easter is now called Divine Mercy Sunday. On April 30, 2000 (Divine Mercy Sunday of that year), Pope St. John Paul II canonized St. Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament and designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. According to the notebooks of Saint Faustina, Jesus made the following statements about this day:
"On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity." (Diary of Saint Faustina, 699)
Devotion to Divine Mercy is also associated with an image painted as Jesus wished, based on descriptions by Saint Faustina. The words that accompany the image are "Jesus, I trust in Thee" ("Jezu, Ufam Tobie" in the Polish). The rays coming from Jesus' body represent the Blood and water that poured forth from the wound He suffered when pierced by the lance. The devotion is practiced by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novenas to the Divine Mercy -- both of which may be prayed at any time, but especially at "The Hour of Great Mercy" -- 3:00 PM, the hour our Lord died, and in conjunction with Divine Mercy Sunday.
May the Lord Jesus have mercy on us all.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
St. Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament