Understanding Divine Mercy Sunday

appointed for this Octave Day. Liturgically the day has always been centered on the theme of Divine mercy and forgiveness. That is why in its decree establishing Divine Mercy Sunday, the Holy See insisted that the texts already assigned for that day in the Missal and the Liturgy of the Hours of the Roman Rite “are always to be used for the liturgical celebration of this Sunday.” The Octave Day of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, therefore point us to the merciful love of God that lies behind the whole Paschal Mystery – the whole mystery of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ – made present for us in the Eucharist. In this way, it also sums up the whole Easter Octave. As Pope John Paul II pointed out in his Regina Caeli address on Divine Mercy Sunday, 1995: “the whole octave of Easter is like a single day,” and the Octave Sunday is meant to be the day of “thanksgiving for the goodness God has shown to man in the whole Easter mystery.” Given the liturgical appropriateness of the title “Divine Mercy Sunday” for the Octave Day of Easter, therefore, the Holy See did not give this title to the Second Sunday of Easter merely as an “option,” for those dioceses who happen to like that sort of thing! Rather, the decree issued on May 5, 2000, by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and The Discipline of the Sacraments clearly states: “the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II has graciously determined that in the Roman Missal, after the title Second Sunday of Easter, there shall henceforth be added the appellation ‘or [that is] Divine Mercy Sunday’…”. Divine Mercy Sunday, therefore, is not an optional title for this solemnity; rather, Divine Mercy is the second name for this Feast Day. In a similar way, the Octave Day of the Nativity of Our Lord was named by the Church “The Feast of the Mother of God.” This means that preaching on God’s mercy is also not just an option for the clergy on that day — it is strongly encouraged. To fail to preach on God’s mercy on that day would mean largely to ignore the prayers, readings and psalms appointed for that day, as well as the title “Divine Mercy Sunday” now given to that day in the Roman Missal. Clearly, the celebration of Mercy Sunday does not compete with, nor endanger the integrity of the Easter Season. After all, Mercy Sunday is the Octave Day of Easter, a day that celebrates the merciful love of God shining through the whole Easter Triduum and the whole Easter mystery. Sometimes the fear is expressed that the recitation of St. Faustina’s Novena of Chaplets of The Divine Mercy from Good Friday until Mercy Sunday distracts us from the focus of the