Sunday, April 12, 2015

Divine Mercy Sunday Reflections and Resources

Divine Mercy Sunday, which is celebrated the second Sunday of Easter, falls on April 12, 2015.  This feast day which is growing in renown and popularity had an even richer significance May 1, 2011, because it also marked the beatification of Pope John Paul II who canonized St. Maria Faustina Kowalska of Poland and John Paul II, who established the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.

The Original Chaplet of Divine Mercy Message

St. Faustina received from Jesus the message of Divine Mercy which He asked her to share with the world. In addition to the prayers of The Chaplet of Divine Mercy, St. Faustina was shown an image that she was instructed to have painted of the Blood and Water flowing out from Christ’s side and the words, “Jesus, I trust in You” underneath. The many messages she received from the Lord about His Divine Mercy, His love for us, and desire that sinners turn back to Him are included in The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in my Soul.

My First Taste of Divine Mercy (in Chaplet form)

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a very powerful prayer said on ordinary Rosary beads. The first and second times I ever heard this prayer sung were incredibly moving. I can still remember very clearly the first time I heard this beautiful song version of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. A friend invited me to come to her Cursillo group reunion at Church of the Epiphany, the parish Kevin and I belonged to at that time. That particular Saturday morning, this group of women joined in the chapel and were going to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. 

I had never heard the song version of this prayer before and was so moved by the CD music and the beautiful voices of the women around me that I was brought to tears.  It was one of the times when I saw in my mind's eye a gathering of women of faith in our family each praying the Rosary.  I still hope and long for the day when our family members will come together to worship and praise the Lord in the same place at the same time.  

New Prayer for During the Consecration & a Memorable Presentation

Back then, I had been praying the Rosary for years, but singing this prayer said on Rosary beads and contemplating Christ’s Passion moved me very deeply. I love to sing and have often found music resonates with me. Sometimes I find myself praying the lyrics to songs that have touched me. In recent years, I’ve begun saying the words from the Chaplet: “Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and the Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Your dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world” while the priest is doing the Consecration at Mass.

Singing The Chaplet of Divine Mercy gives the meditation an extra dimension. The second time I sang/prayed this version of the Chaplet in a group was with a first year Confirmation class. One of the catechists I taught with that year put together an amazing PowerPoint presentation together to help us meditate on Christ’s Passion while listening and singing to the Chaplet on CD. The reaction of a roomful of teenagers was remarkable! They were very moved and kept talking about what an impression it made on them for weeks after that session.

Lay Leaders Sharing Divine Mercy

Back in October of 2008 when I served on my first Cursillo team, I explained The Divine Mercy message and we sang the prayer on the weekend. In August, when I served on a Christ Renews His Parish Women’s retreat team, I once again had the privilege of introducing to the team and candidates The Divine Mercy Chaplet through song.
    
When I met with a friend from VCU and her roommate to pray at the 40 Days for Life vigil one Spring, I suggested that we sing The Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Only one of the women had ever heard it sung before, but they both agreed to try it if I’d lead. Standing on the corner singing the Chaplet with two strong women of faith was a very powerful experience. Interestingly enough, this friend has a well-worn copy of The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in my Soul which she refers to daily.

Mercy on His Birthday
    
In 2010, our dear brother in Christ’s birthday happened to fall on Divine Mercy Sunday. In order to celebrate his birthday and the feast, he had a Divine Mercy party. Family and friends were invited to meet at his parents’ house to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy together. It was a very special occasion and a great way to promote this devotion among loved ones.
    
To observe Divine Mercy Sunday in 2011, I met up our brother John and one of the high school students he was sponsoring for Confirmation, and we sang the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at our parish, then we prayed the Stations of the Cross together.

Great Mercy, Living Hope


Last year, at the very first team formation meeting we had for the Women's Cursillo Weekend held in April 2014, the rectora announced that since our weekend would be going on Divine Mercy Sunday that one of the things she wanted to include on the schedule was to pray the Chaplet together with our candidates.  After having to advocate and petition
 for the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to be included in another women's retreat I helped put on, I was beyond relieved and overjoyed that was one of the few non-negotiables set right up front. Our theme for that Women's Weekend also reflected the celebration: "Great Mercy, Living Hope," and we had a beautiful image to match.  (By the way, I've heard that the other women's retreat also has now made the Chaplet a regular part of the weekend activities they plan as well.)

This year, I was reminded by a fellow prayer warrior and Catholic blogger to start the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy Novena on Good Friday through a Twitter/Facebook post of hers I saw.     
     
I am grateful for the Lord's Divine Mercy as well as for the many women and men in my life who have shown me the love and mercy of God. Thank you for being vessels for the Lord!
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