In 2008, Pope St. John Paul II issued his encyclical entitled Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy). There he invited the world to contemplate the Mercy of God the Father that flows through the Heart of Jesus. It was one of the early occasions for the Pope to speak about a “New Evangelization,” a renewal of Gospel love and zeal within the Church.
During his Pontificate, John Paul was instrumental in approving the Cause and eventual Beatification and Canonization of the Polish Sister Faustina Kowalska, and the world wide observance of Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday after Easter each year. In our own Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph we have observed this beautiful expression of God’s mercy at many parishes. One of our parishes, Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Kansas City has also been designated as the Diocesan Shrine to the Divine Mercy and St. Faustina.
In response to St. John Paul II’s calls to evangelize the world, people from around the world have gathered several times for the World Congress. The first was held in Rome in 2008. A second Congress took place in 2011, in Krakow, with more than 3,500 participants.
The Congress, which has as its mission encouraging and promoting the spirituality of God’s mercy around the world, will soon gather for its Third Congress, Aug. 15-19, 2014, in Bogota, Columbia. Many Cardinals have been involved with this effort, and Pope Francis has assigned a special envoy, Cardinal Francisco Errazuriz Ossa, Archbishop Emeritus of Santiago, Chile, to represent him.
During the five-day congress, participants will explore the mystery of mercy and the mission of the Church through conferences, testimonials, workshops, Mass and prayer. The conferences will recognize the Church’s work to manifest the mercy of God and strengthen the Church’s mission in truth and justice.
Pope Francis has clearly embraced the New Evangelization, urging all of us to be actively engaged in “going out into the streets” to make Christ known. The Holy Father has also spoken on several occasions about Divine Mercy.
In March, at the beginning of Lent this year, Holy Father Francis spoke about Mercy and his predecessor, John Paul: “In the Church, everything is the time of mercy. This was an intuition of Bl. John Paul II. He ‘sensed’ that this was the time of mercy. John Paul II emphasized that the ‘the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through Sr Faustina’s charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third millennium’”
Pope Francis continued, “Divine Mercy is … a gift which [St. John Paul II] gave to us, but which comes from above. It is up to us, as ministers of the Church, to keep this message alive, above all through preaching and in our actions, in signs and in pastoral choices, such as the decision to restore priority to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the works of mercy.”
In light of the Congress next month I invite all of us to use the days, beginning with the Assumption of Mary, August 15, and continuing until the 19th, to pray and reflect on God’s Divine Mercy. Invoke this gift on our world in such need of peace; on our diocese which also requires God’s grace and the fruits of Mercy and reconciliation. Let it be a time to pray for marriages and families; in short, for every soul seeking God’s love and mercy.
On Friday, August 15, 2014, the Solemnity of the Assumption and a Holy Day of Obligation, I will celebrate the 12:00 Noon Mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish. Afterward we will pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. All are invited.
Turning to Jesus in the Image of His Divine Mercy. Perhaps you may want to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, in your parish, individually, or as a family. Jesus I trust in You!
How to Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Using regular rosary beads:
Begin with the Sign of the Cross;
Pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Apostles Creed.
On the Our Father Beads, pray
“Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, / in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.”
On the Ten Small Beads of Each Decade
“For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, / have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
Conclude with the following prayer, (three times)
“Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, / have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
Optional Closing Prayer
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.