This upcoming Sunday, April 19th, is the Sunday after Easter and is known as DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY. It is a wonderful feast with spiritual benefits that are offered to those who are properly disposed to receiving them. Ordinarily, to obtain the benefits of Divine Mercy Sunday, a Catholic must attend Mass, receive Holy Communion, pray for the intentions of the Holy Father and recite the Our Father and the Creed along with a prayer calling upon the merciful Lord (e.g., Saint Faustina’s prayer of “Jesus, I trust in You”). Additionally, to receive the benefits we should not be attached to any kind of sin and receive the sacrament of Confession at a time close to the celebration of the Divine Mercy Sunday.
What are the benefits about which I am speaking? Specifically, it means that we are restored to baptismal innocence. When someone is baptized, all stain of sin is removed as well as punishment due to sin. If a person were to die with baptismal innocence on his or her soul, it would be the greatest grace that could ever be given to us. Not only would all of our sins be forgiven but also the temporal punishment due to sin. The soul would be restored to baptismal innocence and if we were to die in that state, the soul would be united with God immediately in heaven. There are no words to describe how sublime that gift is – and Jesus revealed that He wants to offer that gift of full restoration to baptismal innocence to the souls who seek and are properly disposed to receiving His mercy.
Saint John Paul II introduced this feast along with the plenary indulgence for those who are properly disposed. He did this because he believed in the private revelations that Saint Faustina received from Jesus when He spoke to her about his Divine Mercy being offered to those who wished to receive it.
Because of the “Safer at Home” regulations, some have asked if the indulgence can be obtained this year since attendance at Mass is somewhat restricted. The answer is YES. The decree that first promulgated Divine Mercy Sunday states that the indulgence can be obtained for those “who for a just cause cannot leave their homes.” The coronavirus and the “Safer at Home” restrictions would apply here since we have a just cause for not leaving our homes. However, the decree also indicates that the usual conditions (going to Confession, receiving Holy Communion, and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father along with praying the Our Father, the Creed and a prayer calling upon the merciful Lord) should occur at an appropriate time. An appropriate time would certainly occur when the “Safer at Home” restrictions are lessened or lifted.
So to all of you – may Divine Mercy Sunday be an opportunity for you to be restored to baptismal innocence. One last thought – the hour of Divine Mercy is considered to be 3:00, about the time when Our Lord died on the Cross. At the 3:00 hour this Sunday, I would encourage you to pray at least a part of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. In the Chaplet there is a prayer that is repeated a number of times: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” As the coronavirus continues to have its global effect, the prayer is very appropriate – “have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
God bless you and your families.