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Extraordinary Year of Mercy Much Needed

Pope FrancisIf there has ever been more of a need for people to show mercy to each other it sure hasn’t happened in my lifetime. At least it seems that way to me. Of course we’re seeing men and women committing atrocities against other men and women in the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world but how about right here in the good old U.S.A.?

I don’t even have to look outside Pensacola, FL to see it. There are murders here that just make you shake your head in wonder and they never make national news. But there is plenty of it in the national news from places like Ferguson, MO.

So, I’m thrilled that Pope Francis has announced an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy:

Vatican City, 14 March 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday, 13 March 2015, in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis declared the celebration of an extraordinary Holy year. The Jubilee announcement was made during the homily of the penitential celebration with which he opened the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative. This “Jubilee of Mercy” will commence with the opening of the Holy Door in the Vatican Basilica on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December, and will conclude on November 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

The papal Bull will be made public on Divine Mercy Sunday, 12 April, the Feast day instituted by St. John Paul II and celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.

Let us pray that this coming Jubilee Year will be observed with much prayer throughout the world.

Divine Mercy Sunday

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday and a time for celebration and to perform acts of mercy. Our parish will have a holy hour this afternoon. If you aren’t familiar with Divine Mercy prayers you can find the daily chaplet and the novena on any of several websites. Here are a couple of links for you: Chaplet (daily) and Novena. To get a full understanding of Divine Mercy I would encourage you to read the “Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul.” You can also find the Vatican’s Decree on Divine Mercy here. The image here is one created by Sister Faustina and that we venerate in our celebration today.

Here is a description of why today is called Divine Mercy Sunday taken from DivineMercySunday.com.

During the Mass of canonization of St. Faustina on April 30, 2000, the year of the Great Jubilee, Pope John Paul II proclaimed: “It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church, will be called Divine Mercy Sunday.” The readings on that Sunday are always about mercy, trust and the forgiveness of sins.

There has been much confusion as to how this feast is to be celebrated. To know how to celebrate the Feast, one must only look at the two decrees that were issued by the Holy See and the words of Our Lord in the diary of St. Faustina, which the Church has accepted, as reliable and worthy of belief. The first decree which established the Feast states that the normal readings for that Sunday are always to be used. They are already perfect as they are and reflect what the Image of Divine Mercy portrays.

The second decree is for the plenary indulgence for Divine Mercy Sunday that was issued on June 29, 2002. This decree also states what the specific duties of Priests are to be: inform the parishioners, hear confessions, and lead the prayers. The indulgence decree also asks Priests to gently encourage the Faithful to practice works of charity or mercy as often as they can, following the example of Christ.

The words of Our Lord in the diary are very clear, He said, “I want the image to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it. By means of the Image I shall be granting many graces to souls; so let every soul have access to it.” (Diary 341, 570) The Image should be placed in the church so that everyone can see it, perhaps in the sanctuary area and at all the masses on that day so that everyone may venerate and know about it.

Be Instruments of Peace

As Catholics we are called to love and respect all human life, including those who do not love us in return, and even those who wish us harm. In today’s Gospel reading Jesus tells us,

““To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…love your enemies and do good to them…Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful…Forgive and you will be forgiven…For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Lk. 6:27-28, 35, 36, 38)

Today’s anniversary gives us the opportunity to put this teaching into practice. Those who attacked us seven years ago did so out of extreme hatred and hate can only be defeated by love. As we remember this bloody day in human history may we learn to love and forgive our enemies, especially those who wound us so deeply and not let hatred enter our hearts no matter how grieved we may be. May our enemies turn from their evil ways. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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In this time of hatred, violence and war, let us strive to be instruments of peace and love for all human beings.

    Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
    where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    where there is injury, pardon;
    where there is doubt, faith;
    where there is despair, hope;
    where there is darkness, light;
    and where there is sadness, joy.

    O Divine Master,
    grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
    to be understood, as to understand;
    to be loved, as to love;
    for it is in giving that we receive,
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

    Amen.

From today’s evening prayer (plus a few lines):

“Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing. For: “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep the tongue from evil and the lips from speaking deceit, must turn from evil and do good, seek peace and follow after it” (1 Peter 3:8-11)

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Loving Our Enemies

We’re ALL in Need of God’s Mercy

nullThe recent revelations about the illegal activities and infidelities of New York’s mayors should remind us how easy it is to fall from grace and that we are all in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

There’s nothing like a retreat deep in the heart of Lent to really awaken the senses to the weight and reality of my own sin and how I have deeply offended God in my own life. No matter how “on track” I think I am with God’s plans, there is always room for improvement and I should never consider myself better than anyone else.

Holy Week is an excellent time to reflect on and acknowledge our sinfulness and come to the great sacrament of God’s mercy.

One of the Confirmation candidates at my table brought up that oh-so common objection to the sacrament of Reconciliation, null“why do we need to confess our sins to a priest, a man, when we can just go directly to God on our own and tell Him we’re sorry?” Apart from explaining that it is a Sacrament instituted by Christ (Jn. 20:23) for our benefit and that the priest acts in His person, not a mere man, I also found this passage from St. Faustina’s Diary (1602) in the words of Christ (I was also impressed with the way the other candidates at our table spoke out in defense of confession):

“[W]hen you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that i may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessal of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls.”

It is easy to become complacent, especially when we look at the world in all its madness – war, terrorism, murder, abuse, heavy drug use, etc… – and think, hey, I’m not so bad, at least I haven’t killed anyone, I don’t really hate my neighbor, I don’t abuse drugs, and I am filled with so much love for my family and friends. But we should not be so proud. Truthfully, as fallen people, we cannot help but offend God in the smallest matters. Even one selfish thought is an act of offense and can close our hearts to the grace of God. We should detest sin so as to be willing to die rather than to offend our Lord in even the smallest matter (2 Mc 7).

All have sinned and are deprived of God’s glory, but we rejoice because we are justified through the redemption in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:23-25). This is what He died for! What are you waiting for? Go to confession and receive the grace and mercy of God!! Even if you have been away from the Sacraments for a long time, God is always waiting for you to come back home (Lk. 15:11-32)!

Examination of Conscience

Read: Spitzer Case Should Serve as Warning to Christians by Jonathan Falwell.
Also read about confession from a convert’s viewpoint