For Thoughts Like These on Divine Mercy Sunday

It is the first Sunday after Easter, now known as Divine Mercy Sunday.  For the previous nine days we have been praying a novena for the Divine Mercy in preparation for this day. Today there will be services honoring the Divine Mercy image, special penance services, indulgences, etc. Why? All because some nun had visions and heard voices? Well yes, but only because the visions and voices were true to Christ and His Church. If it had been otherwise, we wouldn’t be commemorating this day with such vigor and passion.

For those of you who prayed the novena with us you know that I included various passages from works of saints, historians, and theologians to shed light on the various works of mercy that we were praying for on any given day.  After all, prayer itself is a work of mercy too.  Especially when we are praying for others as Our Lord asked us to do these past nine days.

I’ll spare you from any more of my personal reflections on this great day and leave you to enjoy it with these beautiful words and thoughts written by St. Bernard of Clairvaux about 900 years ago.  It is from his book of answers to the question he received from a nobleman named Lord Haemeric. To wit, why God is to be loved, and how much? What follows is chapter one of St. Bernard’s answer.

Why we should love God and the measure of that love

You want me to tell you why God is to be loved and how much. I answer, the reason for loving God is God Himself; and the measure of love due to Him is immeasurable love. Is this plain? Doubtless, to a thoughtful man; but I am debtor to the unwise also. A word to the wise is sufficient; but I must consider simple folk too. Therefore I set myself joyfully to explain more in detail what is meant above.

We are to love God for Himself, because of a twofold reason; nothing is more reasonable, nothing more profitable. When one asks, Why should I love God? he may mean, What is lovely in God? or What shall I gain by loving God? In either case, the same sufficient cause of love exists, namely, God Himself.

And first, of His title to our love. Could any title be greater than this, that He gave Himself for us unworthy wretches? And being God, what better gift could He offer than Himself? Hence, if one seeks for God’s claim upon our love here is the chiefest: Because He first loved us (I John 4.19).

Ought He not to be loved in return, when we think who loved, whom He loved, and how much He loved? For who is He that loved? The same of whom every spirit testifies: ‘Thou art my God: my goods are nothing unto Thee’ (Ps. 16.2, Vulg.). And is not His love that wonderful charity which ‘seeketh not her own’? (I Cor.13.5). But for whom was such unutterable love made manifest? The apostle tells us: ‘When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son’ (Rom. 5.10). So it was God who loved us, loved us freely, and loved us while yet we were enemies. And how great was this love of His? St. John answers: ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3.16). St. Paul adds: ‘He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all’ (Rom. 8.32); and the son says of Himself, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15.13).

This is the claim which God the Holy, the Supreme, the Omnipotent, has upon men, defiled and base and weak. Some one may urge that this is true of mankind, but not of angels. True, since for angels it was not needful. He who succored men in their time of need, preserved angels from such need; and even as His love for sinful men wrought wondrously in them so that they should not remain sinful, so that same love which in equal measure He poured out upon angels kept them altogether free from sin.

As the song goes, Love is a many-splendored thing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12442813565745123497 MUJERLATINA

    Frank, I thank you for walking me through these past nine days in preparation for today. This is the first time somebody else has guided me through this novena. I should have been more faithful about following each day, but I have 'scratched the surface' of your novena — this time around… Next year I hope to be more actively involved in your Divine Mercy Novena. Just want you to know that I have been following, depsite the paucity of comments from my camp. Off to Mass, and to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. Pax Christi.

  • Anonymous

    The Divine Mercy has changed my life. I have had OCD since I was a child. Now when "my mind attacks me", I can chose to pray: "Jesus I trust in you." repetitively, as I push through my panic. Eventually perspective returns, through the grace of God, and I am free to move on. For me, the Divine Mercy is a Godsend. I pray that my experience is useful to others…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16021781602272064901 Allison

    I was surprised at our parish today, we celebrated the "Second Sunday of easter" and not Divine Mercy Sunday. I chatted with my pastor about this. Seems the diocese has to approve such observances. You need to have a core of people willing to pray the novena etc. The Cathedral observed Divine Mercy Sunday and a scattering of parishes in our diocese, but far from all. Pastor said Saint Faustina's were "private revelations" and I guess do not have to be subject to devotion. The devotion began under JP2. What are others' experiences at their parishes today?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12442813565745123497 MUJERLATINA

    We had a beautiful Mass for the 2nd Sunday of Easter AND Divine Mercy Sunday. There was a rendition of St. Faustina's apparition of Jesus over the Tabernacle. The sermon was on the Gospel, dovetailed with the tremendous MERCY of Jesus as he first appeared to his disciples after his death — how kind and merciful Jesus was to them, despite their denial of Him at the Passion, and Thomas's persistent lack of faith. At 3pm our parish had Adoration, followed by prayer in front of a small relic of St. Faustina. I did not attend the 3pm service, however it has historically been well attended by parishoners. I enjoy Divine Mercy Sunday more every year. For those interested, EWTN TV occasionally runs a film on this remarkable Saint's life. How ironic that today, of all days, Polish people all around the world are in mourning for their President and his senior cabinet that perished in a jet crash yesterday. Let us pray to St. Faustina Kowalska, this simple nun who died in Cracow, Poland in a convent of Our Lady of Mercy in 1938. St. Faustina, pray for the Polish souls of those who perished yestersay. Pray that our Lord would guide the Polish people in this terrible moment of grief. Pray that there will be a peaceful transfer of power as Poland searches for new President and governing cabinet. St. Faustina, may God have mercy on all of us. Amen.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08801584133028591211 Laura R.

    I attend the Cathedral parish in my archdiocese, which has been publicizing Divine Mercy Sunday for weeks; today we had a Divine Mercy Mass at 3:00 pm, with a recitation of the chaplet (set to music) afterwards, and then veneration of a relic of St. Faustina, followed by a reception.We also prayed for the people of Poland in the aftermath of the tragedy of losing their leaders. Amen, Mujerlatina, let us commend them to the intercession of St. Faustina.Anonymous @3:09 pm, that is a beautiful testimony to the Divine Mercy. God bless you!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Frank,Thank you very much for posting about the Divine Mercy. I'm so happy you took the time to write a post for each of the nine days — not only did they make praying the novena very easy for us, but they inspired me to go to confession yesterday for the first time in about 15 years (!). I don't think I could have worked up the courage to go if I hadn't been getting those daily reminders about the Divine Mercy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Thanks for your comments guys. I am glad to hear that these reflections were helpful(although they may have been too much MUJERLATINA?). And to Anon 8:23, you made may day. Thanks be to God and to God be the glory for what you were moved to do!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12442813565745123497 MUJERLATINA

    @ Frank: Not at all. Your Novena was 'spot-on.' I just was literally on a small Island for Holy Week/Easter sans computer. Upon my return to normalcy Wednesday, I had missed the 'in vivo' process of your Novena!! I look forward to having a computer at hand next year during your Divine Mercy Novena.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    LOL…Note to self: Can't "rerun" last years DM novena posts. Check!

  • Anonymous

    Allison, I have attended the Divine Mercy devotions at the cathedral in past years. They took place in the afternoon, separate from the usual Sunday mass schedule, and were obviously organized and run by the Divine Mercy group (can't recall their formal name offhand…). I guess what I'm getting at is that it felt not like a "regular" parish event, but more like an event by a special interest group. Like if the charismatics or the Third Order Franciscans wanted to hold a special liturgy. Anita

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16021781602272064901 Allison

    @Anita: Next year I will know to head to the Cathedral. I saw only one other parish in the Diocese has a Divine Mercy Sunday observance. It sounds like other folks' experiences in other diocese and archdiocese are different. I wonder if this is a regional thing? And you are right – there is a Divine Mercy Apostolate in our diocese that organizes these devotions.


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