SASKATOON — “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world,” sang hundreds of worshippers who gathered at the Cathedral of the Holy Family April 3 to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.
The words of the Divine Mercy Chaplet echoed through the nearly full cathedral during the diocesan prayer service led by Bishop Donald Bolen and Rev. Greg Smith-Windsor. The celebration included the exposition of the blessed sacrament, adoration, and a reflection by the bishop.
The Divine Mercy devotion is centred on the mercy of God and trust in Jesus. It grew out of the writings of a Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1838), with Divine Mercy Sunday established by Pope John Paul II, celebrated each year on the Sunday after Easter.
This year’s celebration resonated with themes of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy declared by Pope Francis, which is being observed from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 8, 2015, to the Feast of Christ the King Nov. 20, 2016.
“This Year of Mercy is a time to focus on the mystery that is at the heart of our faith, which is the mystery of God’s boundless love for us,” said Bolen.
Christian hope is grounded in the mercy of God, the bishop said. “It is God’s mercy that allows us to believe that it is going to be fine in the end. We believe that confidently, because of the power of the resurrection, because of the power of the Holy Spirit, because God desires nothing more than to pour out boundless mercy upon us.”
Recent popes have been speaking about mercy because the world needs mercy, Bolen observed. “That understanding of our need for mercy has never been stronger.”
He quoted Pope Francis’ homily for Divine Mercy Sunday: “The Gospel is the book of God’s mercy, to be read and reread, because everything that Jesus said and did is an expression of the Father’s mercy.”
That is the lens that we should use to approach the Gospel, our faith and the teachings of the church, said Bolen, whose episcopal motto is “mercy within mercy within mercy.”
“What we have encountered with God in Jesus, is that God desires nothing more than to show us mercy, and as recipients of mercy, our hearts are called to be transformed,” said Bolen. “We are then called to show mercy to others.”
God is sending us forth to be artisans of reconciliation and mercy to others, the bishop said. “As apostles of mercy, what we are called to do is precisely in the light of the resurrection — to go into places of darkness and suffering and pain in the lives of others, and to be there, a balm of mercy. Only the power of the resurrection allows us to do that and not be overwhelmed.”
Bolen added that mercy brings peace — the peace that comes from the heart of the risen Lord, the peace that has defeated fear and death.
“It is a peace that does not divide, but unites; it is a peace that does not abandon us, but makes us feel listened to and loved; it is a peace that persists even in pain and enables hope to blossom. To be bearers of his peace: this is the mission entrusted to the church on Easter day. It is why Jesus Christ says three times: peace be with you.’ ’’