Divine Mercy Sunday

Tomorrow is Divine Mercy Sunday.

That’s a relatively new celebration on the Catholic Church’s calendar, initiated in 2000 upon the canonization of Sr. Faustina, a Polish nun, who said Jesus Christ appeared to her in the early 1930s with a message of Mercy for the world.

Recited upon the beads of a Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet contains special prayers for nine days of intentions, beginning on Good Friday and ending on the Saturday before the second Sunday of Easter.

Among those prayed for are priests and religious, the faithful, those who don’t know God, the meek and humble, the souls in Purgatory, and those who have grown lukewarm in their faith.

Reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion on that feast day grants a plenary indulgence, complete forgiveness of sins and the punishment they deserve. You’re washed 100 percent clean — how great is that?!

Now there’s plenty of controversy over this feast. Some claim that Catholics, by honoring the image of the Risen Jesus that Sr. Faustina said she was told to prepare, are in essence idolizing a graven image.

Sure, we Catholics have statues in Church, but we don’t worship statues. They’re there merely to remind us of the people (and good deeds) they represent. Everybody knows a statue, in and of itself, can’t heal or help anybody!

Others claim that the “pyramid” on the Divine Mercy image is Satanic, likening it to Freemasonry, Scientology, and New Age occultism. Seriously?

Sr. Faustina said she asked Jesus what the pale and scarlet rays emanating from His Heart meant; He told her they signified His blood and water shed while hanging upon the Cross to His Death. Hardly sounds Satanic, does it? Nor does it look like a pyramid.

Still others claim that praying the Chaplet upon Rosary beads somehow lessens the meaning of the Rosary itself, or that it’s one more example of Catholics mindlessly repeating prayers.

Sorry, those arguments don’t fly either. Most people who have devotion to the Divine Mercy Chaplet don’t fail to have devotion to the Rosary; they honor both. Nor do devout Catholics “mindlessly” repeat prayers, any more than devout members of other religions “mindlessly” recite Scripture or their prayers or perform ritualistic washing.

Say what you will — an opportunity like this comes around only once a year, and everyone who can should take advantage of it.

Just think: having every sin you’ve ever committed being completely forgiven by Jesus, and every punishment deserved for those sins to be completely put aside!