Let Us Be Instruments of God’s Mercy
Today, the Sunday after Easter is traditionally called ‘Low Sunday’ but now it is more commonly known as ‘Divine Mercy Sunday’. This Feast of Mercy was instituted by Pope St John Paul II twenty years ago. Our Lord Himself appeared to St Faustina, a Polish nun in the 1930s, and told her to fill her Diary with the message of His mercy. Of course, this message was nothing new – the Church has been preaching it for two thousand years. God has mercy on sinners, and this mercy is available in abundance. As I’ve highlighted in previous years, an important paragraph in St Faustina’s diary reads:
“On that day [the Feast of Mercy] the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened.” (Diary of St Faustina, # 699).
What a promise! But people have been asking how do we do this when all the churches are closed? As I’ve mentioned before, if you make an Act of Perfect Contrition, detesting your sins out of love of God and resolve not to sin again and having the intention to receive the Sacrament as soon as possible, you will be forgiven all your sins – even mortal sins. Then you make a Spiritual Communion, asking God to come into your heart and receive the graces as if you were actually receiving Him. And if we do this successfully, our souls will be as clean as they were on the day of Baptism! We all want to wipe the slate clean, so do tell people about it because this Feast is for everyone.
And it goes without saying we too should perform acts of mercy. As you know there are the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. It’s inspiring in this crisis to see so many in the Parish looking out for each other, whether it’s doing shopping for someone, cooking for them, helping to feed them etc. But we’re limited to what we can do due to ‘social distancing’. If you are not able to do these types of things because you are unable to go out, there are the Spiritual Works of Mercy. We can phone or text people to see if they are okay. Some may have lost someone close to them. We can help comfort them in their grief. Many will be feeling anxious and so we can help reassure them. Families are spending a lot more time together these days, so it might be necessary to develop the virtues of patience and prudence so that we can bear wrongs more patiently. Pray for that gift.
Then there is praying for the living and the dead. There are a lot of people to pray for in this crisis. We pray for all the doctors, nurses and care home workers who are doing so much and risking their own lives, and for all the sick they are looking after. Many of our teachers are still working. And we pray for all those who have died, and their relatives, many of whom haven’t been able to be with a loved one in their final moments. Let us pray on this great feast that each of us will in some way be able to be an instrument of God’s mercy in these times.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC