Sunday, April 15, 2012

Seeking the Mercy of God.

"On My Feast - on the Feast of Mercy ... run through the whole world and lead souls that fainted away to the source of My Mercy. I will lead and strengthen them." - Jesus to St. Faustina

I ran across the following comment on a post regarding the celebration of the Feast of Divine Mercy and subjective criticism of the various images associated with the devotion.  I want to reprint the priest's comment since it represents what a lot of priests think about the novena and feast of Divine Mercy, in fact one friend of mine, who happens to be a bishop now, once said the same thing as the priest I'm quoting here.  He was pastor of a parish at the time the Second Sunday of Easter was established as Divine Mercy Sunday by Blessed John Paul II.  Comment from Fr. Ben here:
Fr. Ben: You write:

The joy and victory of Easter came through the Cross, and came for us mired as we are in brokenness, sadness, and sin… It’s because we NEED to be saved that we are filled with joy at the news of Christ Risen!… It seems that our Easter Joy is deepened by our awareness of how much we need that victory!

I don’t deny any of this. But isn’t that precisely what 40 days of Lenten penance, Holy Week, Triduum, and above all Good Friday are all about? Fully facing up to brokenness, sadness and sin, as well as the horror of our Lord’s passion, the horror of the cross, and our own need to internalize the passion, take up our own cross and follow Christ—in order that, having so faced up to all the bad news, we may finally be prepared to fully celebrate the joy of Easter and our Lord’s triumph over death and sin?

After all that, having at last come to the Easter Octave, couldn’t we finally use a special devotion for this season focused with laser like intensity on Jesus’ triumph, rather than making this a special occasion for drawing our gaze to His sorrowful Passion … His sorrowful Passion … His sorrowful Passion … 50 times a day all week long?

I don’t say this in a spirit of pride or resistance. I pray the Divine Mercy novena every year. But surely you at least see the uncomfortable irony?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this priest, or others, expressing difficulty understanding the feast and the devotion.  It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with their theology, devotion or fidelity to the Church.  The man is not a bad priest, the bishop I know is not a bad bishop because of it.  So that's settled.

Having said that, the devotion, beginning as it does on Good Friday  seems to me to be the perfect way in which to enter into the joy of the Resurrection, the perfect means in which to encounter the Risen Lord, and most of all, to experience the power which flows from his Resurrection.  Precisely because everything, all life, all graces, flow from wound in the side of Christ, and Him Crucified.  St Paul wanted to other knowledge than that. 

In fact until Christ shows his wounds to the disciples, and opens their minds to the scriptures - which foretold his sorrowful passion - the disciples were mourning, unable to open their hearts to the joy of the Resurrection.  It was in this post-Resurrection experience that the disciples were able to understand the events of Holy Week, and were able to "finally be prepared to fully celebrate the joy of Easter and our Lord’s triumph over death and sin" as Fr. Ben desires.  Lent served as our purification and preparation, to be able to accept the mystery revealed to us by the Risen Christ.

As the Holy Father explained in his Regina Caeli message today:
The Holy Father explained that this is the reason for which Blessed John Paul II desired to call this Sunday after Easter “Divine Mercy Sunday” - with an icon in mind: that of the pierced side of Christ, from which flow blood and water. But now Christ is risen, and from the Living Christ spring the Easter Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist: those who approach them with faith receive the gift of eternal life. 
“Dear brothers and sisters,” said Pope Benedict, “Let us welcome the gift of peace that the risen Jesus offers us, let us fill our hearts with His mercy!” He concluded saying, “In this way, with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, we too can bring these Easter gifts to others. May Mary, Mother of Mercy, obtain these things for us.” - Vatican News

So celebrate Easter, sing and dance, eat and drink with joy, bang on your drum all day (8 in total) - but let all you do 'be seasoned with salt'. (Mark 9:50)  At each and every Mass, we are brought back to the Crucifixion - we celebrate Mass in the Easter season - in season and out -  at each and every Mass, we fix "our gaze to His sorrowful Passion … His sorrowful Passion … His sorrowful Passion ..." 

Nothing wrong with that.

Art:  Little souls and those most in need of mercy seem to have no problems with any aspect of the devotion.


  1. Terry,

    Are you familiar with the "Two Divine Promises" attached to the devotion of God's mercy?

  2. "Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing
    his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted
    of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his
    goodness." CCC #398

    This seems to me to be foundational. There is that tension between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection - and we do dwell, as others have noted, in the midst of that 'now but not yet' - and so maybe, especially in life here in time, with our fate always hanging in the balance, the continual return to His sorrowful Passion should be (or simply naturally is) the trajectory of our focus. I'm skeptical of the "We are an Alleluia people," crosses not crucifixes mentality.

    What seems to me a possible 'solution' to the tension is what the quote above implicitly suggests: that through everything, it is God's goodness that is the real focal point; it was that which we first lost sight of and that to which we must return.

    Whether it's His sorrowful Passion or His triumph that we meditate upon, it is His goodness above all that should be 'communicated' to us, so that we respond, as Therese and St. Faustina said, with trust.

    As least up to this point in salvation history, I think that is as closest to the essence of what it's all about, in the most simple terms, that we've come to - or rather been led to.

  3. Servus - I have heard of that devotion.

    Patrick - thanks for your good reflection.


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