Understanding Divine Mercy Sunday

Mention of the sacrament of reconciliation leads me to comment on additional ways parishes might observe Divine Mercy Sunday. In recent years, some parishes of the Archdiocese by additional liturgical and devotional practices have been able to prolong throughout the day the principal celebration of Divine Mercy in the Mass. Thus some parishes have Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament through the afternoon and occasional prayers in honor of Divine Mercy, sometimes concluding the octave day of Easter with a solemn Evening Prayer and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Above all, as the Pope suggests, provision is made through the afternoon for celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Easter gift of Christ to his Church. I appreciate how demanding Sundays can already be for you, especially when you so diligently work to ensure that the Sunday Masses really foster the full, active and conscious participation of all the faithful in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. I do not want to add an additional expectation to your Sunday. That is why I am requesting that the principal focus of our observance of Divine Mercy Sunday be the Eucharistic Liturgy itself, highlighting the message of Divine Mercy in our preaching that day. At the same time, however, I want to encourage and support parishes or groupings of parishes which can find a way to prolong the celebration through the day, especially through Eucharistic adoration and through opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Despite all our efforts during Lent we realize that so many of our people will still need Confession. This wonderful Sacrament – we must never forget – was presented to the Church by Christ Himself on the day of His Resurrection. By its very nature it leads us to a more intimate sharing in Christ’s new life. Hence, this Sacrament of Mercy is supremely relevant also in the Easter season. “Mercy,” says Pope John Paul, “is an indispensable dimension of love; it is, as it were, love’s second name and, at the same time, the specific manner in which love is revealed and effected vis-a-vis the reality of the evil that is in the world, affecting and besieging man, insinuating itself even into his heart.” In the face of all the manifestations of physical and moral evil, before all the threats that cloud the whole horizon of the life of humanity today, the Church – professing mercy and remaining always faithful to it – has the right and the duty to call upon the mercy of God. During this second year of spiritual preparation for the millennium celebration, there is no better occasion for focusing the attention of the Archdiocese on the great mystery of Divine Mercy than the Easter celebration of new life in Christ. United together, bishops and priests, and joined to Jesus Christ the personal revelation and incarnation of God’s mercy, let us, who have personally received God’s mercy repeatedly,