Understanding Divine Mercy Sunday

When we invoke God’s mercy, love and protection while fulfilling our day-to-day responsibilities, we are atoning for our sins. When we place ourselves and our possessions, our time and our talents, at the service of others, we are growing in love and “clothing ourselves” in Christ. Almsgiving, voluntary penances (giving up something), and giving witness to the truth of Christ in word and deed remit the consequences of sin too. In these ways, we atone for our sins throughout our life and grow stronger in the love of God. Gradually, we are freed from our attachment and inclination to sinfulness as well as to the particular sins we have committed. Christian charity, growing and increasing within us, radiates from our lives into the lives of others, healing relationships that have been damaged by sin. Before we can enter the Kingdom of Heaven and be with God, we must be completely detached from sin and freed from our debts. If this cleansing by love has not been finished before we die, it is completed after death in the spiritual purification we call “Purgatory.” The Communion of Saints As the Jubilee helps us to understand the oneness of the human family, so it should deepen our understanding of the communion between the Church in Heaven and the Church on earth. On earth, Christ calls us to be one people, one family, through Baptism and the Eucharist; while from heaven, the Church triumphant looks on us with love and prays for our complete conversion an sanctification. The saints want to work with us and for us so that we can achieve the vision of the Trinity that they now enjoy. Our communion with them even extends to their assisting us to atone for our sins and be freed from the debt of our attachments. One of the ways in which this is accomplished is the Church’s gift of indulgences. What is an Indulgence? The Catechism explains that: An indulgence is obtained through the Church, who by virtue of the power of binding an loosing granted to her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favour of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to work of devotion, penance and charity (Catechism, #1478).

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