Saturday, April 14, 2012
This weekend, the Church celebrates the Feast of Divine Mercy. Pope John Paul II decreed in 2000 that the second Sunday of Easter would be known as Divine Mercy Sunday from then on. The readings fit perfectly. "Peace be with you....Whose sins you forgive are forgiven..." we hear in the Gospel.
Several years ago, I set about reading St. Faustina's diary, and made it about half way through before my attention wandered to other things. It was soo reassuring to us sinners, though, about the Lord's desire to forgive, to offer us mercy, for whatever it is that holds us bound. In recent years, I have frequently taken Him up on his offer of mercy. God's mercy - what a gift!
Last Advent, I had the privilege of accompanying a friend to confession for the first time in 30-some-odd years. In the months since then, we have spoken often of the experience. First of all, it was not as "bad" as she expected. She expected that she would be fussed at or "given the third degree", but that is not at all what waited for her. "He just listened." Mercy - just like Jesus. Secondly, she was so glad just to have it done, that she didn't instantly experience great relief. She said she felt lighter, but the full experience didn't really hit her until Christmas. Then she received Holy Communion for the first time in nearly 40 years. She who had told me years before that "it was all the same...just a symbol." She said when she returned to her place, she could feel the warmth flowing through her body...tingling. "I know you probably think I'm crazy," she tells me. But I don't. I have at times - had similar experiences - in front of the Tabernacle or during the Eucharistic Procession on Holy Thursday. God's Mercy.
Now I watch as she seems to be slowly taking steps to remedy a personal situation that has needed attention for a long time. It is like the paralysis has been lifted. She has an idea of what direction she wants to go in, and is starting to do concrete things to make it happen, rather than just talking about it. "My life isn't perfect," she says, "but I feel at peace." It is neat to watch how the non-religious parts of life have fallen into place when the spiritual was taken care of. "May God give you pardon and PEACE" are words found in the prayer of absolution. Sometimes I wonder how much better the whole world would be if we Catholics utilized our wonderful sacrament of Mercy more often.
On a somewhat related tack, I usually ignore the "forward this email and you will receive 187 days of good luck" or whatever, but more than once, I have received an email with the Divine Mercy image (seen above) and then some rubbish about an angel being sent to me (referring to the Divine Mercy image of Jesus) and how SHE would do this or that. I had to educate the sender on those occasions!
And on a totally unrelated tangent, my priest took a little time off this week (Lord, please do not let me die during Holy Week or the week after...), so I took the opportunity to attend Mass at churches not my own. On Monday, I went to one close to my house, since I did not have school. On Tuesday, I went to the one near my school where the pollen from all the Easter flowers was quite oppressive. On Wednesday,it is hard to find a morning Mass, so I just went and sat amongst the pollen grains. Thursday, I went to the chapel at the Carmelite Monastery near my house. They had incense at a daily Mass! Friday I went to the Cathedral. All wonderful!
Back to my original topic - Mercy. Receive God's mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation - especially if it's been a while. And BE Mercy. Don't forget to show mercy to your fellow travelers on the journey.