On the day dedicated to reminding the world’s faithful of God’s infinite mercy, and that no mortal soul is beyond the reach of God’s love and forgiveness, faithful from the Diocese joined with their brothers and sisters throughout the world in commemorating the Feast of Divine Mercy April 16.
UPDATED: Love and forgiveness highlight Divine Mercy Sunday observances
Among the parishes to observe Divine Mercy Sunday, celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter, was Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Lakewood, where “Divine Mercy has a very important place in our community,” according to Divine Word Father Guilherme Andrino, pastor. Each year, he said, a group of Spanish-speaking parishioners who form the Divine Mercy group, prepares the celebration of the Vigil Mass on Saturday evening and the 3 p.m. Mass on Sunday that is followed by a dinner.
PHOTO GALLERY: Divine Mercy Sunday Mass in Holy Family Church, Lakewood
The Divine Mercy Group was formed in 2011 and meets every Saturday at 6:30 a.m. on the parish campus. During their meetings, members pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and discuss the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska. In addition to the Spanish community, Father Andrino noted the parish’s Polish-speaking members also have a deep devotion to the Divine Mercy.
This year’s Divine Mercy commemoration included the novena which began on Holy Saturday, April 8, and concluded with hundreds attending the Divine Mercy Sunday Mass celebrated by Father Andrino in Holy Family Church. The opening procession included a young parishioner, Lucero Espana, dressed in a nun’s habit that resembled Sister Faustina. There were other parishioners who wore t-shirts with the Divine Mercy image of Jesus with rays emanating from his heart. This year, parishioners also venerated a relic of St. John Paul II belonging to parishioner Ela Symoniak.
In his homily, Father Andrino said he tries to remind parishioners that “Jesus’ center message was and always will be” about mercy, compassion, love and kindness.
“In her diary, St. Faustina mentions Jesus’ words, ‘I am Love and Mercy itself,’” Father Andrino said. “So this is our invitation for life.
“Today we are immersed in this love of God that goes beyond our understanding. He forgives us and loves us so much. Today we are invited to practice the same love and mercy to our brothers and sisters,” he said. “Once we understand how merciful God is, we cannot be selfish anymore, we must share it.”
Devotion to the Divine Mercy originated in the early 1900s when Jesus appeared to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a nun and former peasant girl in Poland. He presented himself as the Divine Mercy, and in the apparition, he stood with two large rays, one red and the other white, coming from his heart.
Respectively, the rays signified Christ’s Blood, “which is the life of souls,” and the water, “which makes souls righteous” that poured out when his heart was opened by a lance during his Crucifixion.
Jesus asked Faustina to share his love and mercy with the world and requested that a feast of mercy be observed, as recorded in the diary St. Faustina kept from 1931-1938. In the revelations, Christ asked for acts of mercy arising out of love for him through deed, word and prayer.
Pope John Paul II canonized Sister Faustina April 30, 2000, and, during the canonization, expressed his wish that the first Sunday following Easter should be celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday.
His wish came to fruition on May 5, 2000, when a decree was issued officially establishing the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.