Well, my dear readers, we have come to the most important time of the year: the time when God’s mercy is celebrated far and wide. Tomorrow, we recall the painful suffering Our Lord endured for our salvation. Holy Saturday recalls His descent into hell so that the fruits of His Passion might be poured upon all the dead including Adam and Eve. How can one neglect the eagerness with which Our Lord must have rushed to Adam’s side to proclaim to him that all was forgiven? The second reading from the Holy Saturday Office of Readings makes for an edifying read. In my own case, I am not sure whether anything more profound has been said of God’s mercy outside of the Scriptures. Indeed, the Magnificence and Magnanimity of God toward us who are burdened by our sins, failings, and the thought that heavy punishment awaits us makes the heart rejoice!
One of the terrible things about this life is that we are constantly tempted to doubt God’s goodness. There is evil in the world; we suffer evil done to ourselves; and we suffer through evil done by ourselves. We barely make the slightest progress to amend our wicked ways and often find ourselves becoming worse. We shout with St. Paul: “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) We see our sins reflected in the wounds of Christ. These wounds reflect Our Savior’s undying love for us, but how often does our wickedness crush our souls such that we are tempted to say with St. Peter: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8).
But, God does not want to leave us. When Peter first said that to Christ, Christ responded: “Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” Then, after Peter could not keep his eyes open to comfort our Lord in His agony in the garden, after Peter denied Him three times, and after Peter avoided Him during His three hours of agony on the cross, Jesus Christ says to St. Peter and the rest of the disciples:
36 …”Peace be to you; it is I, fear not.”
37 But they being troubled and frightened, supposed that they saw a spirit.
38 And He said to them: “Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39 “See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have.” (Luke 24)
This is as if to Our Lord is saying: “Be at peace and don’t fear to come to me. I have really taken your nature upon myself and endured the agony of the cross to bind you to me forever. Look upon my wounds! Touch these wounds which I boast of because they redeemed you. I did not come to condemn you. I am not angry with you. Do not be slow to believe that God is Love. On that painful cross, mercy triumphed over justice so that I can show mercy to whoever comes to me.”
But, God’s mercy did not stop with forgiving us and saving us from eternal death. He raised humanity above the angels and promised us a glorified body like the one in which He rose on Easter Sunday. And by the indwelling of His grace, we can come to imitate His divine perfections and His most divine life. All the above is accomplished through God’s grace. The sole thing God asks from us is a good will, which He Himself grants and strengthens, to correspond with these graces.
And yet, we are sometimes more willing to suffer for our sins than receive mercy for them. When life turns difficult, we get the impression that God is punishing us for our sins–how do we know that we suffered X, Y, and Z because of our sins? Such thoughts only impress upon us the idea that God is a wrathful judge! Jesus Christ did not undergo the crucifixion so that He can be wrathful, but so that he can show mercy in super-abundance.
Hence, I should like to remind my Catholic readers that, besides our Easter duty to confess if we have committed a mortal sin in the past year and to receive Holy Communion at least once during Lent, we ought to gain a plenary indulgence on Divine Mercy Sunday (April 27). This is how Our Lord’s revelation to St. Faustina describes it:
Ask of my faithful servant [Father Sopocko] that, on this day, he will tell the world of My great mercy; that whoever approaches the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete remission of sins and punishment.
Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to my mercy.
Oh, how much I am hurt by a soul’s distrust! Such a soul professes that I am Holy and Just, but does not believe that I am Mercy and does not trust in My Goodness. Even the devils glorify my Justice but do not believe in My Goodness. My heart rejoices in this title of Mercy. (Divine Mercy in My Soul, paragraph 300)
These are the instructions for the indulgence:
The plenary indulgence is granted (under the usual conditions of a sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and a prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on Divine Mercy Sunday, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, recite the Our Father and the Creed, and also adding a devout prayer (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!).
So, go to confession again on Saturday, April 26th, and follow the rest of the instructions. What do you have to lose? Don’t say to yourself: “It sounds like cheating. I deserve to be punished for my sins.” Such hardness of heart! Do you think that God prefers seeing you suffer for your sins over seeing you as clean as new fallen snow? That He rejoices in your pain? Of course not! Rather, He would much rather bring you straight into heaven without judgment! So, focus on God’s Mercy this Easter and celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy in all its fullness.