Understanding Divine Mercy Sunday

ARCHDIOCESE OF ST. LOUIS 4445 Lindell Boulevard Office of the Archbishop St. Louis, Missouri 63108-2497 314-533-1887 314-533-9954 (fax) April 1, 1998 Dear brother priest, “God is rich in mercy; because of his great love for us, he brought us to life with Christ when we were dead in sin” (Eph 2:4-5). As we approach the Sacred Triduum of Easter, celebrating our salvation in Jesus Christ, I draw your attention to this passage from the Letter to the Ephesians and invite you to reflect with me on the mercy of God. In his 1980 encyclical Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy), Pope John Paul II rehearses the sacred history of God’s revelation of himself as mercy, a revelation culminating in Jesus Christ. The Pope teaches, “Making the Father present as love and mercy is, in Christ’s own consciousness, the fundamental touchstone of his mission as the Messiah.” This mission passes on into the Church, who “must consider it one of her principal duties – at every stage of history and especially in our modern age – to proclaim and to introduce into life the mystery of mercy, supremely revealed in Jesus Christ.” The Holy Father tells us that focusing on the mercy of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, is especially important in the present moment of history, and that doing so constitutes a timely challenge to the Church: The truth, revealed in Christ, about God the “Father of mercies,” enables us to “see” him as particularly close to man, especially when man is suffering , when he is under threat at the very heart of his existence and dignity. And this is why, in the situation of the Church and the world today, many individuals and groups guided by a lively sense of faith are turning, I would say almost spontaneously, to the mercy of God. They are certainly being moved to do this by Christ himself, who through his Spirit works within human hearts. For the mystery of God the “Father of mercies” revealed by Christ becomes, in the context of today’s threats to man, as it were, a unique appeal addressed to the Church. Today I invite you to join me in responding to this appeal. In particular, I ask that each of our Archdiocesan parishes observe the Second Sunday of Easter, the octave day of Easter, as a