Divine Mercy Sunday

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, a time to remember in a special way the message of our Lord to St. Faustina Kowalska, a simple nun from Krakow in early part of the 20th century.

When I was studying in Europe as part of a semester-abroad program in 1992, I had a chance to visit Krakow and visit the convent where Sister Faustina lived. I remember leaving from Steubenville’s Austrian campus early that day — which meant skipping out of the end of a talk given by Cardinal Schönborn, who was reading to us from the latest draft of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Just one more thing to lay before God’s mercy…

When we arrived in Krakow, it was hard to find Sr. Faustina’s convent — although the fact that none of my classmates spoke Polish might have had something to do with it… We just pulled out our holy cards with the image of the Divine Mercy on it, and first were directed to the wrong church! But we eventually got there, and the sisters were kind enough to show us around… we saw the sisters’ cemetery, the chapel that contains the image, and the tomb of St. Faustina. Here are a few photos…

The sister’s cemetery

Praying at the tomb of St. Faustina

The Divine Mercy image in the chapel

A Polish holy card

XIII: Jesus is laid in the arms of His Blessed Mother

At the foot of the Cross, Mary lovingly receives the lifeless body of her Son. She kisses Him, and then gazes out at us as she holds Him. Her eyes are filled with grief but no bitterness. “This is for you,” her eyes say to us. She is the gracious hostess of the divine meal, expressing a hospitality that has cost her everything.

Mary is… the Mother of Mercy because it is to her that Jesus entrusts his Church and all humanity. At the foot of the Cross, when she accepts John as her son, when she asks, together with Christ, forgiveness from the Father for those who do not know what they do, Mary experiences, in perfect docility to the Spirit, the richness and the
universality of God’s love, which opens her heart and enables it to embrace the entire human race. Thus Mary becomes, for each and every one of us, the Mother who obtains for us divine mercy.

Saint Pope John Paul II, The Splendor of Truth

XII: Jesus dies upon the Cross

“There is no one left, Jesus,” mocks Gesmas the thief. A moment of profound aloneness follows, when Jesus does not experience even the Father’s love. Satan now attempts to strip Christ of His relationship with the Father. But when Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Satan is furious. No one bothers to cry out to one who is not listening. The cry of Jesus, desolate as it is, makes clear that He is still communicating with His Father.

You too some day may feel the loneliness of our Lord on the cross. If so, seek the support of Him who died and rose again. Find yourself a shelter in the wounds in His hands, in His feet, in His side. And your willingness to start again will revive, and you will take up the journey again with greater determination and effectiveness.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá, The Way of the Cross

XI: Jesus is nailed to the Cross

John the Beloved watches as the body of Christ is elevated on the Cross. He remembers the words of the Master as He elevated the unleavened bread: “This is my body… do this in memory of me.” The Supreme Teacher does not want us to forget that love is self-offering, and so the meal He asks us to share, again and again until the end of time, takes the very shape of His sacrifice.

Christ’s blood reveals to man that his greatness, and therefore his vocation, consists in the sincere gift of self. Precisely because it is poured out as the gift of life, the blood of Christ is no longer a sign of death, of definitive separation from the brethren, but the instrument of a communion which is richness of life for all. Whoever in the Sacrament of the Eucharist drinks this blood and abides in Jesus is drawn into the dynamism of his love and gift of life, in order to bring to its fullness the original vocation to love which belongs to everyone…. It is from the blood of Christ that all draw the strength to commit themselves to promoting life. It is precisely this blood that is the most powerful source of hope, indeed it is the foundation of the absolute certitude that in God’s plan life will be victorious.

Saint Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life

IX: Jesus falls the third time

Jesus suffers another fall. In His eyes, it is not cause for despair, but only another invitation to heroic love, to a rising above the situation. Love does not stop to measure or complain, but presses on to fulfillment.

That voice you hear within you: ‘What a heavy yoke you have freely taken upon yourself!’ … is the voice of the devil; the heavy burden… of your pride.
Ask our Lord for humility, and you too will understand those words of Jesus, which I like to translate freely, as follows: ‘my yoke is freedom, my yoke is love, my yoke is unity, my yoke is life, my yoke is fruitfulness.’

Saint Josemaria Escriva, The Way of the Cross