Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Quality of Mercy

On this "Divine Mercy Sunday" -- the annual feast instituted by John Paul II to honor the visions of the Polish mystic Sr Faustina Kowaklska, who the late pontiff canonized -- Benedict XVI paid tribute to his predecessor and the devotion at today's Regina Caeli:

“Mercy,’ said Benedict XVI, ‘is in reality the core of the Evangelical message; it is the name of God itself, the face with which He revealed Himself in the Ancient Covenant and fully in Jesus Christ, incarnation of Creative and Redemptive Love. This love of mercy illuminates the face of the Church as well, and manifests itself via the Sacraments, in particular that of the Reconciliation, and charity, community and individual works. All that the Church says and does is a manifestation of God’s mercy for man. When the Church has to reiterate an unrecognised truth or a good thing that was betrayed, it does so driven by a merciful love that men may have life and have it more abundantly (cf Jn, 10:10). From Divine Mercy, which pacifies the hearts, comes true peace in the world, peace among different peoples, cultures and religions.”

It was thanks to John Paul II that the second Sunday of Easter (Dominica in Albis) became the ‘Sunday of Divine Mercy’. “This occurred at the same time as the canonisation of Faustina Kowalska, a humble Polish nun born in 1905 who died in 1938, a zealous messenger of the Merciful Jesus.”

“Like Sister Faustina,” the Pope added, “John Paul II was several times the Apostle of Divine Mercy. That unforgettable Saturday, 2 April 2005, when he closed his eyes to this world, was the eve of the Second Sunday of Easter, and many noted the singular coincidence with its Marian dimension, that of being the first Saturday of the month and that of Divine Mercy. In effect the heart of his long and multifaceted pontificate lies in that; his entire mission in the service of the truth about God and man and peace in the world is summarised in this announcement, which he made himself in Krakow-Łagiewniki in 2002, when he inaugurated the Shrine of Divine Mercy: ‘[A]part from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind.’ His message, like that of St Faustina’s, leads back to the face of Christ, the supreme revelation of God’s mercy. Constantly contemplating that face, that is the heritage he left us, and which we welcome and make our own with joy.”

While Benedict's Sunday liturgy took place in his private chapel, Papa Ratzi sent his Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone SDB, to celebrate a Mercy Sunday Mass at Santo Spirito, Rome's Polish parish.

Mercy's a year-round theme there; the community has become rather famous for its annual tradition of including a figure of Faustina -- one of the most popular 20th century saints -- in its Christmas creche.

PHOTO: AsiaNews