From The Desk of the Pastor in Preparation for the Feast of Mercy
In discussing the Feast of Mercy, now also known as “Divine Mercy Sunday.” or simply “Mercy Sunday,” I don’t feel any need to give all the details. Much has been written about this Feast, and a great deal of information is readily available.
I’ll briefly summarize the basic details, but then I want to share some thoughts about some of the things I feel are most important, and that even many people who participate in the Feast every year may not realize.
So, here we go with some basic “Feast Facts”:
Faustina didn’t invent this Feast, Christ repeatedly insisted on it, mentioning it fourteen times in the Diary:
The Feast is to be observed on the Second Sunday of Easter (which, in the year 2000, Pope John Paul II renamed “Divine Mercy Sunday”);
The Divine Mercy Image is to be blessed and publicly venerated;
The homily is to be preached on Divine Mercy, especially the “unimaginable Mercy” that the Father pours upon us through Christ’s “human Heart, above all attested to by His Passion;
Our observance of the Feast must include acts of mercy for others, by word, deed or prayer;
The graces we receive on this day (as on every day) will be directly proportionate to the degree of trust we place in Jesus;
To fully receive the great promises of Jesus for this day, we must sincerely repent of our sins and be in a state of grace through sacramental Confession; and we must receive Holy Communion worthily on that day itself;
The Feast is to prepare the world for Christ’s second coming, a “last hope of salvation” for sinners, a Day of Mercy” before the “Day of Justice” (Diary, 429, 965,1588);
The Feast is to be preceded by a Novena (For us, this means the Novena of Chaplets, this novena of Chaplets should not be confused with the special Novena to Divine Mercy that the Lord also asked St. Faustina to say in preparation for the Feast. We’ll see more about this later.)
The Feast of Mercy can also be known as The Feast of the Prodigal Father
Okay, that’s done. But (remember, that’s just a summary; there’s a lot more information available about all of that.) Now we can move on to the heart of it all.
I want to bring you back to one word: squander. To me, more than anything else, the Feast of Mercy is the “Feast of the Prodigal Father” – the day when, for the sake of His Son’s sorrowful Passion, the Father lets out all the stops, opening up all the floodgates of the ocean of mercy, and pouring out the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice on everyone.
The Feast of Mercy is the celebration of God the Father squandering grace, providing a refuge for all, a last opportunity to turn to Him so that, indeed, all Christ’s suffering will not have been in vain, but will allow the Father’s plan of mercy for all to be fulfilled.
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy – because it is so completely focused on the Passion of Christ – has become the prayer most often prayed at three o’clock. Many people actually seem to think that they have to pray it at three, and some seem to think that it’s the only time they should pray it.
Neither thought is accurate. It is certainly appropriate to pray the Chaplet at three, but the Lord never asked for it to be prayed at that time. What He asked was for it to be prayed all the time. He told St. Faustina to pray it “unceasingly” and to encourage others to pray it as well (see Diary, 687,1541).
He spoke to her about the Chaplet many times, often giving her specific times and ways to pray it, along with particular intentions.
Novena of Chaplets
The morning after she received the words of the Chaplet, the Lord told her to recite it immediately every time she entered the chapel (see Diary, 476). He then told her to recite it for nine days. He repeated this request for a novena of Chaplets at other times as well, once telling her to ask her superior to have all the sisters pray this novena (714); another time telling her to pray it on the nine days preceding the Feast of Mercy (796).
By this novena (of Chaplets), I will grant every possible grace for souls. Diary, 796
Instructed and inspired by the Lord, Faustina prayed the Chaplet over and over again, in all kinds of situations, and for a wide variety of intentions. Her main intention was always for mercy on the whole world, but for many other intentions as well. She prayed for God’s mercy to hold back His just punishment; she prayed for the conversion of individual sinners, for priests, for the dying, for her country, and even for changes in the weather conditions.
More to come….
OUR LENTEN OBLIGATION
Church law considers every Friday and the season of Lent as penitential days and times. The practice of penance is a part of our faith and Christian life. When we do penance, we imitate Jesus, who Himself recommended it as necessary to His followers, and gave them the example of His prayer and fasting.
The Lenten obligation, as determined for Catholics in the United States by our bishops, requires that fasting be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The law of abstinence is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent.
Who must fast? All Catholics who are between the ages of 18 and 59. The obligation ceases when one begins his/her 60th year on his/her 59th birthday.
Who must abstain? All Catholics who are 14 years and older.
What does fasting mean? The observance of fasting means that those obliged may take only one full meal on the day of fast. Two lighter meals (not equal to another full meal) may be taken to maintain strength according to one’s needs.
What does abstinence mean? The law of abstinence forbids the eating of meat, including poultry. Voluntary abstinence refers to refraining from lawful pleasures in a spirit of penance.
Can anyone be dispensed or excused from fast and/or abstinence? Individuals for a just cause may be dispensed by their pastor or by a priest with the faculty to do so. In our Diocese all priests may dispense individuals who are committed to their pastoral care. Those who are ill or have a similar serious reason are excused from the observance of fast and abstinence. Catholics are reminded that they should not lightly excuse themselves from this obligation.
Are there other obligations which we should fulfill? Catholics are obliged to fulfill what has been called their “Easter Duty.” They are required to receive Holy Communion during the Easter time. In the United States this obligation can be fulfilled from the First Sunday of Lent until Trinity Sunday (March 10th until June 16th). Those conscious of serious sin are reminded of the obligation to confess their sins once a year.
Catholics are also encouraged to make Lent a time of more intense prayer and to practice almsgiving and other works of charity. Parishes are encouraged to continue participation in Operation Rice Bowl.
Ash Wednesday , March 6th Mass Schedule
6:45 AM Mass Divine Mercy
9:30 AM Mass Divine Mercy
5:30 PM Mass St. Casimir
7:00 PM Mass Divine Mercy (Spanish)
|Friday||March 8th||1:15 PM||Stations of the Cross – Trinity Academy||Divine Mercy|
|Sunday||March 10th||3:00 PM||Lenten Lamentations||Divine Mercy|
|Monday||March 11th||5-6:00 PM||Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament/Confession||Divine Mercy|
|Monday||March 11th||6-7:00 PM||Stations of the Cross/Benediction||Divine Mercy|
|Tuesday||March 12th||5-6:00 PM||Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament/Confession||Divine Mercy|
|Tuesday||March 12th||6-7:00 PM||Stations of the Cross/Benediction||Divine Mercy|
|Friday||March 15th||1:15 PM||Stations of the Cross – Trinity Academy||Divine Mercy|
|Monday||March 18th||5-6:00 PM||Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament/Confession||Divine Mercy|
|Monday||March 18th||6-7:00 PM||Stations of the Cross/Benediction||Divine Mercy|
|Tuesday||March 19th||5-6:00 PM||Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament/Confession||Divine Mercy|
|Tuesday||March 19th||6-7:00 PM||Stations of the Cross/Benediction||Divine Mercy|
|Sunday||March 24th||3:00 PM||Lenten Lamentations||Divine Mercy|
|Monday||March 25th||5-6:00 PM||Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament/Confession||Divine Mercy|
|Monday||March 25th||6-7:00 PM||Stations of the Cross/Benediction||Divine Mercy|
|Tuesday||March 26th||5-6:00 PM||Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament/Confession||Divine Mercy|
|Tuesday||March 26th||6-7:00 PM||Stations of the Cross/Benediction||Divine Mercy|
|Friday||March 29th||1:15 PM||Stations of the Cross – Trinity Academy||Divine Mercy|
|Monday||April 1st||5-6:00 PM||Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament/Confession||Divine Mercy|
|Monday||April 1st||6-7:00 PM||Stations of the Cross/Benediction||Divine Mercy|
|Tuesday||April 2nd||5-6:00 PM||Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament/Confession||Divine Mercy|
|Tuesday||April 2nd||6-7:00 PM||Stations of the Cross/Benediction||Divine Mercy|
|Friday||April 5th||1:15 PM||Stations of the Cross – Trinity Academy||Divine Mercy|
|Sunday||April 6th||3:00 PM||Lenten Lamentations||Divine Mercy|
|Monday||April 8th||5-6:00 PM||Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament/Confession||Divine Mercy|
|Monday||April 8th||6-7:00 PM||Stations of the Cross/Benediction||Divine Mercy|
|Tuesday||April 9th||5-6:00 PM||Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament/Confession||Divine Mercy|
|Tuesday||April 9th||6-7:00 PM||Stations of the Cross/Benediction||Divine Mercy|
|Friday||April 12th||1:15 PM||Stations of the Cross – Trinity Academy||Divine Mercy|
|Sunday||April 14th||6:30 PM||Stations of the Cross – Trinity Academy||Divine Mercy|
Parish Fundraisers & Upcoming Events
Divine Mercy Parish is sponsoring three Lenten Dinners which will be held at St. Stephen Church Hall 3:00 PM to 5:30 PM. All dinners will be take out only. The choices will be a fish platter, a devil crab platter or chicken finger platter. Cost of each platter: $ 8.00. All dinners will be catered by A & C Catering, Mahanoy City.
Please fill out the form below and return it to the parish office, 108 West Cherry St.
Please click here to download form for Lenten Dinners 2019 Lenten Dinner Website Form
Prayer To St. Michael The Archangel
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen
Suspension of the Sign of Peace/Reception of the Chalice
In light of the heightened cases of influenza being reported in our five county area and the January 2, 2019 change in the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Influenza Status from “sporadic” to “widespread,” His Excellency, Most Reverend Alfred Al Schlert, directs that the Exchange of the Sign of Peace and the Reception of Holy Communion from the Chalice be suspended beginning with the Vigil and Sunday Masses on the weekend of January 12th and 13th. This suspension will be in effect until the incidence of influenza subsides in our region.
As a pastoral provision, His Excellency allows the option for the Exchange of the Sign of Peace to be exercised for funeral Masses or wedding Masses, if the pastor/administrator deems it appropriate. The Reception of Holy Communion from the Chalice is only permitted for priests and deacons during this temporary suspension.
In those parishes where the Reception of Holy Communion is commonly given under both Forms, please use this as a catechetical moment to reinforce the Church’s constant teaching that the entire Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ is present in the Sacred Host and that the reception of either species is sufficient to receive the graces of the Holy Eucharist, provided one is in the state of grace.
Thank you for your kind attention to this matter and for your dedicated priestly ministry to the people entrusted to your care.
The following is a statement from Diocese of Allentown Bishop Alfred Schlert:
“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ meeting in Baltimore ended without a vote on key issues of bishops’ accountability, at the Vatican’s request. Nevertheless, my brother bishops and I have provided strong direction to our leadership on this important topic, asking them to carry our proposals to Rome for their planned February meeting with Pope Francis.
In spite of the lack of a vote, I remain personally committed to preventing abuse, to keeping children safe, and to dealing swiftly and effectively with allegations of misconduct. Upon prayerful reflection, I believe that now is the time to put that commitment into writing, in the form of a pledge to victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
My Pledge to Victims and Survivors:
- The Diocese of Allentown will not protect abusers. No institution, Church or secular, should ever prioritize its own reputation over the safety of the innocent and the vulnerable.
- We immediately report all allegations to law enforcement. We also will continue to act with transparency, in cooperation with law enforcement.
- Accused priests will be removed from ministry immediately pending an investigation. I have never transferred an abuser to cover up the problem, and I never will.
- I am willing to meet with you at any time, no matter how long ago your abuse occurred, to offer pastoral care and support, but mostly, to listen. I will treat all victims with dignity and respect.
- I will hold myself accountable to outside oversight. Our past failures as Bishops must not be repeated. I welcome independent and objective scrutiny as I work to fulfill my grave responsibility to prevent abuse and to keep children safe.”Anyone who knows of incidents of abuse, in the Church or outside it, should report it to the State ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313, the State Attorney General’s hotline at 1-888-538-8541, or to local law enforcement. The Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator is available to provide assistance to anyone who, as a minor, was abused by a priest, deacon, employee, or volunteer of the Diocese, or of its parishes. Her direct line is 1-800-791-9209.
Healing Our Church Discussion Groups Coming in Lent Catholics throughout the Diocese of Allentown are invited to attend small-group discussions, moderated by fellow parishioners, and designed to encourage reflection and conversation about the clergy abuse crisis. Healing Our Church is a program from RENEW International, a Catholic nonprofit organization. Bishop Alfred Schlert has called the parish-based small-group discussions “an opportunity for all of us to prayerfully reflect on scripture, on the abuse crisis, and on our path forward as a Roman Catholic Family of Faith.” Discussions will take place during the six weeks of Lent. Watch for more information, including how to sign up, soon.
Sanando Nuestra Iglesia: Grupos de Discusión para la Cuaresma Los católicos de toda la Diócesis de Allentown están invitados a asistir a discusiones en grupos pequeños, moderados por feligreses, y diseñados para estimular la reflexión y la conversación sobre la crisis de abuso del clero. Sanando Nuestra Iglesia es un programa de RENEW International, una organización católica sin fines de lucro. El obispo Alfred Schlert ha dicho que las discusiones en grupos pequeños parroquiales son “una oportunidad para que todos nosotros reflexionemos en oración sobre las Escrituras, sobre la crisis de abuso y en nuestro camino hacia adelante como una Familia de Fe Católica Romana.” Las discusiones tendrán lugar durante las seis semanas de Cuaresma. Espere más información, incluyendo cómo inscribirse, pronto.
Why is our parish called “Divine Mercy”?
Divine Mercy Image
The Divine Mercy image is a depiction Jesus based on the devotion initiated by St. Faustina Kowalska.
“I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish,” Jesus told Faustina, according to her diary, which has been studied and authenticated by the Church over several decades. “I also promise victory over enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I myself will defend it as My own glory.” (Diary of Faustina, 48).
Jesus is shown in most versions as raising his right hand in blessing and pointing with his left hand on his chest from which flow forth two rays: one red and one white. The depictions often contais the message “Jesus, I trust in You!” The rays streaming out have symbolic meaning: red for the blood of Jesus (which is the Life of Souls), and pale for the water (which justify souls) (from Diary – 299). The whole image is symbolic of charity, forgiveness and love of God, referred to as the “Fountain of Mercy.” According to the diary of St. Faustina, the image is based on her 1931 vision of Jesus.
A number of artistic renditions of the image have appeared since Faustina directed the painting of the first image in Vilnius, Lithuania. These are widely venerated worldwide, and are used in the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, observed in Roman Catholic, as well as some Anglican churches.
The first Mass during which the Divine Mercy image was displayed was on April 28, 1935, the first Sunday after Easter (The Feast of Divine Mercy) and was attended by Sr. Faustina.
Faustina Kowalska was a Polish nun who joined the convent of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw 1925. In her diary, which was later published as the book Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, Faustina wrote about a number of visions of Jesus and conversations with him. Her confessor was Michael Sopocko, a priest and a professor of theology.
In 1930, Faustina was assigned to the convent in Plock, Poland. Faustina stated that while she was in her cell on the night of Sunday, February 22, 1931, Jesus appeared to her as the ‘King of Divine Mercy”, robed in a white garment.
Faustina wrote that Jesus’ right hand was raised in a sign of blessing and the other was touching the garment near his breast, and that from beneath the garment slightly down, aside his breast, emanated two large rays, one red, the other white.
In her diary, she wrote that Jesus told her:
“Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: “Jesus, I trust in You”. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and then throughout the world. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish”.
Another nun, Sister Christine, later stated that rays of light from the window were visible that night and attracted the attention of people standing on the other side of the street, implying that this was a “physical” appearance rather than an interior vision.
Not knowing how to paint, Faustina approached some other nuns at her convent for help but received no assistance. She attempted to sketch the image with charcoal on canvas but had little success. In her diary, she wrote that Jesus told her that she would receive “visible help” with the task. In November 1932, Faustina left Plock and returned to Warsaw, and in May 1933, she was sent to the convent in Vilnius to work as the gardener.
In Vilnius, Faustina met Father Michael Sopocko, the newly appointed confessor to the nuns. Sopocko supported Faustina’s efforts and arranged for the first painting of the image by the artist Eugene Kazimierowski, which was the only rendition Faustina saw. After Faustina’s death, a number of other artists painted their own versions of the image, with the depiction by Adolf Hyla being among the most reproduced.
Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace.
— Words attributed to Jesus by Fatima in her diary.
After the canonization of Faustina in April 2000, devotion to the Divine Mercy and the image has increased. The devotional following of the image and Faustina’s message has been stronger among Catholics at large than among theologians. Author Benedict Groeschel considers a modest estimate of the following in 2010 to be over one hundred million Catholics.
Faustina’s diary relates the rays of light within the image to life and salvation, stating that she was told by Jesus:
“The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red stands for the Blood which is the life of souls … These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross”.
Faustina also wrote that Jesus stressed the importance of the image as part of the Divine Mercy devotion, and in Notebook 1, item 327 attributed these words to Jesus:
“I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature; “Jesus, I trust in You”.
Catholic devotions thus stress the importance of the image as a “conduit for grace” as part of the Divine Mercy message.
Faustina’s diary also relates the image to Divine Mercy Sunday, Faustina wrote that Jesus told her that he wanted the Divine Mercy image to be “solemnly blessed” on the first Sunday after Easter; and that Sunday was to be the Feast of Mercy.
Pope John Paul II instituted Divine Mercy Sunday and placed it on the General Roman Calendar. The Divine Mercy image is often carried in processions on Divine Mercy Sunday, and is placed in a location in the church so that it can be venerated by those who attended the Mass.
The veneration of the Divine Mercy image also takes place in conjunction with the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena. The Vatican biography of Faustina states that the veneration of the Divine Mercy image is part of the second component of her message, namely “entreating God’s mercy for the whole world”. Praying before the Divine Mercy image (with the signature “Jesus I trust in you”) is not only encouraged in Catholic devotions, but is mentioned as a partial condition for some of the indulgences associated with Divine Mercy Sunday.
The first painting was by Eugene Kazimierowski, under the supervision of Faustina and her confessor, Michael Sopocko, in Vilnius. After completion in 1934, the painting hung in the Bernardine Sisters’ convent near the church of St. Archangel Michael, where Sopoko was a rector. In her diary, sister Faustina notes that Jesus told her to inform her confessor that the proper place for the painting was in a church, not in the hallway of a convent. The first public exposition of the Kazimierowski rendition was on 26-28 April 1935, at the church of the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius. In 1937, on the Sunday after Easter, the current Feast of Divine Mercy, the picture was put on display beside the main altar in St. Michael’s Church, Vilnius. The Soviet authorities, having occupied Lithuania, in 1948 closed St. Michael’s Church and destroyed the convent. The painting remained in the church building until 1951, when two pious women from Vilnius Brone Miniotaite and Janina Rodzevic bought the canvas from a guard and gave it to the parish priest at the Dominican Church of the Holy Spirit for safekeeping. Professional restoration in the spring of 2003 left the image exactly as it was when Eugeniusz Kazimierowski painted it under the direction of Sister Faustina.
Sopocko was a professor of theology at the University of Vilnius and introduced Faustina to Kazimierowski, who was professor of art there. Kazimierowski had painted religious images before, but this task was difficult for him. Sopocko himself posed as Jesus for the image, wearing an alb, and both he and Faustina regularly visited the painter’s workshop. The final painting satisfied neither Sopocko nor Faustina, who later wrote that Christ told her it is not that important that the picture be beautiful. The true beauty, Christ said, would be the blessing that He would bestow to the people by the means of the painting.
Another painting of the Divine Mercy was made by Adolf Hyla, as a votive offering. Through painting this picture, Hyla expressed his gratitude for the survival of his family during World War II.
Hyla was given the descriptions from Faustina’s diary by the nuns at the convent, and a small copy of the first painting. Hyla’s image is somewhat different from Kazimierowski’s as the former figured Jesus as a “Divine Physician”, walking the earth and healing people. He has Jesus approaching the viewer instead of merely standing. Christ’s right hand is lifted up high in benediction, and He is looking into the eyes of the viewer. The original version of this painting had a country landscape in the background, which was removed in a later replica as it was deemed “non-liturgical”.
The Hyla rendition is also called the “Krakow Divine Mercy Image” because it is kept in the sanctuary at Krakow-Lagiewniki.
Before Adolf Hyla offered his votive painting, the sisters had commissioned Stanislaw Batowski to paint a third version. This was lost in a fire, and Batowski painted a fourth painting which arrived at the convent at almost the same time as Hyla’s. Cardinal Sapieha, who happened to be in the convent then, selected the Hyla painting because it was a votive image.
A number of other artists have painted the image, but Hyla’s rendition remains the most reproduced one.
“The image of The Divine Mercy, painted by Adam Styka (1957), is displayed in the Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy at the Congregation of Marians in Stockbridge, MA USA”. (Diary pictures of images). A popular image was created in 1982 by American artist Robert Skemp. This rendition depicts Jesus standing in front of an arched doorway, with a more pronounced halo about his head. The Skemp and Hyla images are the most ubiquitous depictions found in the Philippines, where the devotion to the Divine Mercy is a popular one.
The Divine Mercy Shrine, in El Salvador City, Phillipines was built in 2008, and has a 15.24 metre (50 foot) statue of the Divine Mercy towering above the shrine.
In 1959 the Vatican banned the image and devotion to it because of a number of factors. Some Polish bishops questioned Sr. Faustina’s’ claims and were uncomfortable with the image’s similarity to the red and white Polish flag. Polish priests were reported to be interpreting the rays as a symbol of the flag. The ban on the image and devotion to it was only lifted on April 15, 1978, due to pressure from future Polish pope, Karol Wojtyla, who was a great advocate for Sr. Faustina.