Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strain'd....

Folks, this is what heaven must be like: it's skirting 80 degrees here in Philly, and I'm sitting on a lawn where there's wi-fi, and friends and beauties abound.

Right now, life is good. But, even from this relaxing setting, back to business.

As many of you know and are eagerly anticipating, this coming Sunday -- Dominica in albis, or "Low Sunday" as it's often called -- is what has become known as Divine Mercy Sunday. The celebration began in deference to a command which Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun and mystic, reported to have received from Jesus over the course of several apparations. In the years immediately following Kowalska's death in 1938, the diaries which contained her accounts of the experiences were viewed with suspicion at the Vatican, and the Divine Mercy devotion was largely confined to Poland, particularly Krakow, where Faustina's convent was located.

Of course, the Divine Mercy's fortunes changed drastically under the aegis of the Pope from Faustina's town. An unabashed devotee of the message, John Paul II made its universal propagation in the church a high priority, beatifying Faustina Kowalska in 1993 and canonizing her in the Jubilee Year on the Second Sunday of Easter, which was eventually given optional liturgical texts for the Divine Mercy feast. His death on the vigil of the feast was widely viewed as an act of providential timing.

Among the more devotionally-oriented of the faithful, Faustina and her message have been received with a rapt embrace, and the number of parishes, even cathedrals, which will be holding Divine Mercy celebrations on Sunday afternoon can only be measured in the thousands. However, while Benedict XVI has made several mentions of John Paul's focus on the imperative of mercy since succeeding the amato Papa, he has notably stopped short of invoking Faustina or Divine Mercy proper. It has been interpreted as one contrast of note between the two men.

With that in mind, keep an eye on this weekend's Angelus, as it will show this Pope's hand on one of his predecessor's most highly favored causes.