Understanding Divine Mercy Sunday

March 2008By Robert R. Allard

Robert R. Allard, who returned to the Catholic Church in 1993 after a 25-year absence, is the founding director of the Apostles of Divine Mercy (www.DivineMer­ His articles have been published in various Catholic magazines and newspapers, and he has appeared at conferences and on numerous talk shows. Mr. Allard is available for seminars to provide information to priests and seminarians. He can be reached by e-mail at robertallard@divinemercysun­ or by phone at 1-888-732-0722.

Ed. Note: The Feast of Divine Mercy falls on March 30 of this year.

It is urgent that we understand how to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. The late Pope John Paul II mustered his last bit of strength to record his message to the world that was to be read on Divine Mercy Sunday. By God's Divine Providence, that turned out to be the very next day after his death. His words were read on April 3, 2005, at St. Peter's Square, after the Mass for the repose of his soul.

John Paul's message underscored the great need to counteract evil with the gift that the risen Lord offers us on Divine Mercy Sunday. He ended with these words, speaking of the great gift that pardons and reconciles: "It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!"

John Paul recognized the need for everyone not only to understand it, but to accept it. He was well aware of those who, like the Prodigal Son's brother, have not yet accepted that mercy that can readily restore sinful souls to "royal dignity." It is sometimes difficult for priests to appreciate how Divine Mercy Sunday can be that one special day, every year, where souls can receive an entire pardon of their sins.

We have heard all the objections before: "Divine Mercy Sunday takes away from Easter," "The Pope put the Feast of Divine Mercy on the wrong day," "How can that day be different from any other day?" The people who say these things don't recognize that this Feast of Mercy is today's fulfillment of the Old Testament "Day of Atonement," the annual feast in which sins were forgiven, and the only day that the High Priests could enter the Holy of Holies. God told Moses that it was to be their Sabbath of Sabbaths.

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Actually, the Sunday After Easter (also known as Sunday Within Octave of Easter, Alb Sunday, Low Sunday, St Thomas Sunday, Quasimodo Sunday...) being known for the Divine Mercy, wouldn't bother me, but for the Novena that precedes it. No, I don't have anything against Novenas. But the seven days known in the East as "Bright Week" isn't the place for a mournful daily ritual "for the sake of his sorrowful passion." The passion is over, Christ is risen, or did we miss that part? And while every Mass relives for us the passion, death, and resurrection, all together, at the level of the liturgical cycle, it just doesn't belong.

I don't think this was thought through very well.
Posted by: manwithblackhat
March 12, 2008 01:17 PM EDT
I wouldn't second guess Jesus Christ. He wanted to implement this novena at that specific time as He told Sister Faustina. Pope John Paul II, by confirming this devotion, made these revelations equal to those of Guadalupe, Lourdes, and Fatima. We are not required to believe them, but thankfully most Catholics do. Posted by: tzabiega1
March 20, 2008 10:59 AM EDT
Well, that's just lovely. Except that you refute your own statement. You say that believe in private revelations is not required, then make a declarative statement using a private revelation as the basis for His wishes on an ecclesiastical matter. This is counter to Pope Benedict XIV's "Decree on Private Revelations" in the 18th century.

Who's "second guessing" now?
Posted by: manwithblackhat
March 24, 2008 03:00 PM EDT
manwithblackhat: you make a good point in you last post regarding private revelations. You clearly write and reason well.

However, I think in your refuting tzabiega1 you may have missed something.

Unless my understanding is incorrect, this feast (Divine Mercy) is recognized by the Church. Thus, while we do not have to believe, while it is not doctrine, it is still considered by the Church to be worthy of devotion, and has even been given a day in the liturgical calendar.

Thus my questions: even if you personally do not believe in the devotion to Divine Mercy, or the veracity of St. Faustina's Diary, is it appropriate to be publicly criticizing the feast? Is it possible that you are unnecessarily giving scandal to many committed to the Divine Mercy? After all, the Church, with the authority granted Her, approved this devotion for the people.

Consider that weird letter to the editor where someone cancelled their subscription to this magazine while ranting about the lunatics in Portugal (He was referring to Fatima). I for one believe in and accept the veracity of the Fatima apparitions. Even if belief in the Fatima apparitions is not a matter of doctrine, was the letter writer prudent to criticize the feast? I personally took umbrage at the idea that I am a lunatic for believing in Fatima, an event well attested by many and supported by the Church. (Of course, I am not comparing the style of his letter to your criticism of the Divine Mercy... you make interesting and informed points in an informed way).

I also have a question because of my own lack of understanding: Does the fact that the Fatima apparitions were a public event make them different in some way than the Divine Mercy or other "private" revelations approved by the Church vis a vis the level of credence the laity are supposed to give them?

I was under the impression that belief in these things (either Fatima or Divine Mercy or the rest) was NOT required for one to be Catholic. The only things required per se are assent to the Creed, belief in Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and Magesterium, and those elements of teaching defined Ex Cathedra or by Ecumenical Council. Is this impression correct?
Posted by: eakter
April 03, 2008 06:59 PM EDT
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