We celebrated Laetare Sunday this week, laetare being the Latin word “to rejoice.” Similar to Gaudete Sunday of Advent, we rejoiced that the Lenten season was coming to a close. We have about three week to go until Easter (March 27). A week afterwards, we shall celebrate the still lesser known Feast of Divine Mercy or Divine Mercy Sunday. In the ancient days of the Church, the newly baptized would wear their white baptismal robes for a week after Easter and finally doff them on the Sunday following Easter. This custom eventually fell into disuse, but, through a series of visions to St. Faustina Kowalska of Poland, Our Lord restored the significance of the day, desiring it to be a feast day dedicated to the Mercy of God. He also gave St. Faustina a new icon to recall His Mercy, which displays the blood and water which poured from Christ’s side as beams of red and white light:
In 2002, Pope John Paul II established the Feast of Divine Mercy on the second Sunday of Advent and attached a plenary indulgence to the feast. One can obtain this indulgence under the usual conditions: sacramental confession, reception of Holy Communion, not being attached to even venial sin, and prayers for the intentions of the pope. One should say the Our Father, the Apostles’ Creed, and a devout prayer referring to Divine Mercy, e.g. “Jesus, I trust in You” or “Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me, a sinner.” May we all be able to participate in this feast to the fullest extent, and also remember to prayer the Novena of Divine Mercy, which begins on Good Friday.
I shall try to give frequent reminders of the approach of Divine Mercy Sunday. (Also, be sure to read Beneath the Tangles posts for Holy Week.) My dear readers well know my devotion to the Feast of Divine Mercy. Divine Mercy makes every good possible: all salvation begins with it, is accomplished through it, and ends with us immersed in mercy for all eternity. What could we do without God? Nothing! Do we have any gift or talent or joy which we were given entirely through our own merits? No, but in spite of our frequent misuse of our gifts and talents and even zeal for our own misery! But, it is still important to aspire to the love of God: God desires us to receive His gifts, not to force them upon us!
And so, I wish to encourage all Christians to participate in some way for this feast and for Catholics to gain that plenary indulgence. Our Lord died upon the Cross so that He might shower us with gifts: “…I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). But, how lukewarm we are! How quick to seek goods which perish and satisfy not! How slow to pursue “treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume” (Matt. 6: 20). May this Lenten season and the joy of Easter make us more zealous for grace and for the rewards we expect from God!