Diving Mercy Sunday celebrations invite Catholics to share in devotion
by Jessica Langdon
The Topeka couple had prayed the chaplet of Divine Mercy for years, but the devotion really took on new life for them at a conference in Overland Park in 1998.
“The graces and blessings are just tremendous,” said Kathy Dorst.
Since then, they have taken the lead in sharing this devotion and working to help enthrone the Divine Mercy image in homes, buildings and parishes.
All of the Topeka parishes, including their own Mother Teresa of Calcutta Church, have enthroned this image of Jesus, surrounded by pale rays representing the water of baptism and red rays representing the blood of Christ.
The Dorsts look forward to April 7 — the Sunday after Easter, which the church celebrates as Divine Mercy Sunday — and hope Catholics across the archdiocese will join in the devotion.
Michael Podrebarac, archdiocesan consultant for liturgy, explains the relatively new devotion this way.
“Jesus wished to reveal to humanity the image and the contemplation of his divine mercy,” he said.
This particular attribute of God does not outweigh any other because God is whole.
But its application resonated in a special way with circumstances in the world at the time the devotion began — and still does today.
The private revelation in the 1930s to a Polish nun, Sister Faustina Kowalska, came at a point in history when the world had just emerged from one world war and would soon enter another.
In the 1950s, a Polish cardinal — who later would become Pope John Paul II — took up the cause for this devotion, understanding both the cultural and the theological context of the revelation.
As pontiff, Pope John Paul II inaugurated the feast of Divine Mercy in 2000 with the canonization of St. Faustina.
“The themes of the Divine Mercy are very consistent with the ways in which Jesus shows mercy in the Bible,” said Podrebarac.
Jesus revealed to St. Faustina seven ways to access his divine mercy, he continued. They include:
- Contemplating the image of the Divine Mercy, which Jesus revealed to St. Faustina and asked her to replicate. It always includes the phrase “Jesus, I trust in you” or “Jesus, I trust in thee.”
- A renewed simple and straightforward trust in Jesus.
- Celebrating the feast of Divine Mercy — which Pope John Paul II directed to take place at the Octave of Easter.
- Participating in the sacrament of reconciliation. “To me, one of the most beautiful expressions of it is Jesus counsels St. Faustina with these words: ‘Tell people that when they come to confession, I’m waiting there for them; I wish to receive them,’” said Podrebarac.
- Faithful participation in the Eucharist.
- Praying the chaplet of Divine Mercy, based on prayers said using rosary beads, with the words “For the sake of his sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world” at its heart; and
- Living in and showing mercy to others, which includes merciful words — forgiving and comforting; prayer on others’ behalf; and deeds of mercy.
“Not only are we accessing mercy or petitioning mercy for ourselves,” Podrebarac said, “but we’re extending that gift of mercy to others as members of the body of Christ.”
A plenary indulgence is granted to those who fully participate in the Divine Mercy devotion.
Podrebarac believes the beatitude “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” might best capture the idea of Divine Mercy.
And there are many ways to incorporate it into a Catholic’s life throughout the year, from reading St. Faustina’s diaries to praying the chaplet daily.
Catholics often pray the novena daily between Good Friday and Divine Mercy Sunday, and the novena focuses on prayers for different groups each day.
“It’s really made a huge impact. The Lord has just shown us so much,” said Kathy Dorst. “The Catholic Church is just so rich with these little tidbits that become monumental opportunities for graces.”
Local Divine Mercy celebrations
Christ the King Parish, 3024 N. 53rd St., Kansas City, Kan., will offer reconciliation at 2 p.m. on April 7. The chaplet of Divine Mercy will begin at 3 p.m., followed by celebration of the Eucharist at 3:15 p.m. Refreshments will follow.
Church of the Nativity, 3800 W. 119th St., Leawood, will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at 3 p.m. on April 7. The service will include recitation of the chaplet, Divine Mercy litany and Benediction. The parish will have a first-class relic of St. Faustina present at the service.
Divine Mercy Parish, 555 W. Main St., Gardner, will hold a special celebration at 3 p.m. on April 7, including exposition, Benediction, and the Divine Mercy chaplet with prayers for the church and Pope Francis.
Good Shepherd Parish, 12800 W. 75th St., Shawnee, will have a blessing of the Divine Mercy image and pray the chaplet at 9:15 a.m. (between the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Masses) on April 7.
Holy Trinity Parish, 501 E. Chippewa, Paola, will recite the chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 p.m. on April 7, followed by Benediction and reconciliation.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish, 2014 N.W. 46th St., Topeka, will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at 3 p.m. on April 7 with exposition, Benediction and a Holy Hour. A reception will follow.
Prince of Peace Parish, 16000 W. 143rd St., Olathe, will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at 3 p.m. April 7 with a Holy Hour of adoration and Benediction, including recitation of the Divine Mercy chaplet and a blessing of the Divine Mercy statue.
Queen of the Holy Rosary, 7023 W. 71st St., Overland Park, will host an hour of prayer with Benediction, led by Father John Maier, at 2:30 p.m. on April 7. Children are invited to take flowers to Jesus, the Divine Mercy, and flowers will be provided.
Sacred Heart Parish, 101 Cottonwood, Emporia, will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at 3 p.m. on April 7 by praying the Divine Mercy chaplet. There will be adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Benediction and an opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.
St. Benedict’s Parish, 1000 N. 2nd St., Atchison, will say the Divine Mercy novena at 3 p.m. each day beginning March 31 until Divine Mercy Sunday. At the 11 a.m. Mass on April 7, there will be the recitation of the chaplet and Benediction.
St. Joseph-St. Lawrence Parish, 211 W. Riley, Easton, will host a Holy Hour with adoration and Benediction at 3 p.m. on April 7. There will be opportunity for confession.
St. Patrick Parish, 1066 N. 94th St., Kansas City, Kan., will hold a Holy Hour at 3:30 p.m. April 7. The hour will include adoration, Benediction, a reflection on mercy and the praying of the Divine Mercy chaplet. Prayer cards will be provided.
St. Pius X Parish, 5500 Woodson Ave., Mission, will offer opportunity to pray the Divine Mercy novena at 3:30 p.m. on March 31 and then at 3 p.m. each following day until Divine Mercy Sunday. At 3 p.m. on April 7, the parish will sing the chaplet of Divine Mercy.