Divine Mercy Sunday

Just the name, Easter, brings thoughts of new life, springtime, of freshness, of the Resurrection. This is not only a day — not only a few weeks on the Church calendar — but, for Christians, a way of life. Many, from St. Augustine to Pope St. John Paul II, have said we are an “Easter people.” We carry the joys of Easter with us in every aspect of our lives. God gives us the assurance of eternal life on Easter, and the Church perpetuates this assurance, extends the glory of Easter, rich in tradition and meaning.

The Easter season

Despite our Lenten preparations, all the events of Easter Day are difficult to assimilate in a 24-hour period. In response to our human frailty, the Church gives us more time, until Pentecost, to absorb this miracle. For the next 50 days, the stories and events of that day are amplified to us. The Church’s “General Norms of the Liturgical Year and the Calendar” says “The 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated in joyful exultation as one feast day, or better as ‘one great Sunday.’’’ The first eight days, beginning with Easter Sunday, are the Octaves of Easter. Each Octave day is a solemnity, the highest ranking feast in the Church, and we hear those vivid accounts of that first Easter. During the 50 days, the Church helps us to unlock the mysteries and miracles of Easter.

Earlier in Church history, the first week after Easter was known as “white week” because those baptized on Easter would attend daily Mass wearing their white baptismal garments. In our time, for those who received the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil, these days are commonly used to continue their understanding of the sacraments and the paschal mysteries.

The last Sunday of the octave was, for centuries, called Low Sunday to differentiate it from the glories of Easter Sunday. Today, the octave ends with Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope St. John Paul II introduced this feast into the Church calendar during the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska in April 2000. Often, this celebration takes place on Sunday afternoon and focuses us on the divine mercy of God, as reflected through the paschal mysteries and in our lives. Holy Mother Church offers us a plenary indulgence if we take part in these Divine Mercy devotions, have gone to confession, received Communion and prayed for the intentions of the Holy Father.

 

Weekly Reflections

Father Joe will share his reflection each week!


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