A image of Jesus of Divine Mercy is seen as Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the feast of Divine Mercy in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 3, 2016. (PAUL HARING | CNS)

Divine Mercy Sunday is a gift from the Lord

PALM BEACH GARDENS  |  Divine Mercy Sunday is April 23, and as the feast day approaches, one man here is spreading the message to help people take advantage of graces and God’s mercy promised simply by putting in a little time and taking a few extra steps at this time of year.

“If we follow the guidelines for Divine Mercy Sunday, Our Lord promises complete forgiveness of our sins and the punishment due them, all the way back to our baptism,” said Jim Fabyan, a parishioner of the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola in Palm Beach Gardens.

“This gives one a fresh start on their spiritual life. The graces we receive on Divine Mercy Sunday are infinite.”

Father John J. Pasquini, pastor of St. John of the Cross in Vero Beach, explained the requirements: One must receive sacramental confession within 20 days before or after Divine Mercy Sunday and receive holy Communion on or near Divine Mercy Sunday in the state of grace, with trust in the Divine Mercy. One must also pray for the intentions of the pope and pray the Divine Mercy chaplet or other suitable Divine Mercy prayer as specified by the Church. Provisions for the homebound include a total renunciation of any sin, the intention of fulfilling as soon as possible confession, Communion and prayer for the Holy Father. One may recite the Our Father and the Creed before the image of Our Merciful Lord and pray a suitable prayer such as, “Merciful Jesus, I trust in you.” One is also encouraged to offer up his or her sufferings to God. One must also venerate the image of Divine Mercy and be merciful, helping others physically or spiritually through prayers of intercession.

Parishes throughout the world and in the Diocese of Palm Beach will celebrate Divine Mercy April 22, at the vigil Mass, and during Masses Sunday April 23. The feast of the Divine Mercy is an element of the devotion that Catholics believe was revealed to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, known today as the “Apostle of the Divine Mercy.”

St. Faustina of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy congregation wrote about her life and the devotion in her diary “Divine Mercy in My Soul,” published by Marian Press. The faithful believe that in the 1930s Jesus appeared to St. Faustina and commanded her to write down everything he wanted humanity to know about his love and mercy.

Some parishes will host special programs with talks explaining the feast, the image of Divine Mercy that goes along with the devotion, the special prayer and the novena linked to the celebration. There will be great emphasis placed on the plenary indulgency, or pardon, from suffering for sins that goes along with the feast.

For example, the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola will celebrate the feast during regular weekend Masses, and at 3 p.m. on Divine Mercy Sunday the chaplet or prayer will be recited along with the rosary. There will be adoration of the Blessed Sacrament followed by Benediction. Holy Family Parish in Port St. Lucie is another example. The parish will celebrate a Divine Mercy Mass at noon with a procession with members of the Divine Mercy Apostles dedicated to spreading the devotion.

Catholics who follow the few specific requirements and take the few extra steps will be given God’s grace and gift of a plenary indulgence, which expiates all temporal punishment for sin.

“This is a one-way ticket to heaven,” said Fabyan, a true believer in the power of the feast. “Every year your slate is cleaned of all sins. It saves souls and it is so simple. People need to know about it.”

To learn more about the Divine Mercy message and Divine Mercy Sunday, visit www.marian.org, the website of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. For special Divine Mercy programs, visit the Diocese of Palm Beach website and events section by clicking onto www.diocesepb.org/events. n