“Sometimes in life, we think there is no solution, no hope, no answer. But Jesus has a plan and He is in control. Trust in Him. Surrender to Him. Know that He is acting in that very moment, and you will come to recognize His mercy and the marvels he works in your life.”
This is the message Sister M. Donata Farbaniec shared on Divine Mercy Sunday during a mission at St. Margaret Mary Church in Harrisburg. Sister Donata, a native of Poland, is a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. The order currently staffs the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to spreading the message of Divine Mercy.
The Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy is also the congregation that St. Faustina joined in 1925. It was to her that Our Lord revealed the message of Divine Mercy, and entrusted her with the mission of reminding and proclaiming this truth to the whole world.
Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter, a feast day instituted by St. John Paul II in 2000 in conjunction with the canonization of St. Faustina. On this day, the faithful receive special graces promised by Jesus and told to Sister Faustina: “I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the Fount of My Mercy.”
An Extraordinary Gift
The Divine Mercy Sunday Mission at St. Margaret Mary Parish on April 24 began immediately after the celebration of 11:30 a.m. Mass, as Father Leo Goodman, pastor, exposed the Blessed Sacrament on the altar. The congregation knelt in silence during a period of Adoration, and then for the recitation of the Rosary.
Dozens of people lined up outside of the church’s confessionals to receive the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation during the mission, which concluded with the singing of the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
“Divine Mercy Sunday isn’t ‘just another devotion’ of Holy Mother Church. It was mandated by Christ to fall within the Octave of Easter,” Father Goodman told The Catholic Witness. “The graces to be received are unlike any other in the Church with the exception of Baptism. Those who go to Confession and receive the Eucharist today, in the words of Christ to St. Faustina, ‘Shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.’ I honestly don’t believe many of our people are aware of this extraordinary gift from Jesus. His love for us is so great, so overwhelming.”
“St. John Paul II said on the day he canonized St. Faustina, that he believed he was made Pope in order to canonize her and establish the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday as Christ directed,” Father Goodman continued. “He said it was the greatest and happiest day of his life – and I think St. John Paul had some pretty great days!”
“During these times, as we see the horrors of war and threats of international nuclear war, I pray that our people will receive the Lord’s message today. He told St. Faustina that mankind will not have peace until it turns to His Mercy. Jesus wants us to approach His Merciful Heart, receive His sacraments and prepare to enter into His Kingdom,” Father Goodman said.
Stepping to the lectern, flanked by the Paschal Candle and the Divine Mercy image of Jesus, Sister Donata delivered a talk, “Ocean of Divine Mercy – Exceptional Graces Jesus Wants to Give You on Divine Mercy Sunday.”
Sharing the message of mercy in various parishes across the country, Sister Donata said, is showing people that Jesus has opened wide the door of His mercy to everyone.
“We all have different attitudes. Some people are very close to the Lord and they open up totally to Him. Others are super resistant,” she told The Witness. “But the worst attitude is one of indifference, of not caring. Those who are resisting are not in as bad a position as those who are indifferent, because at least those who are resisting are aware of Him.’”
“Our Lord said to Faustina, ‘I don’t want to punish an aching mankind; I desire to heal it, pressing it to my merciful heart,’” Sister Donata said. “He is our healer, and He knows our illnesses, our aches, our wounds. He wants to press us to His heart, to let us know that we are loved. Today, on Divine Mercy Sunday, we celebrate this love. To receive His Divine Mercy, all we have to do is open up.”
Sister Donata said the message of mercy is the foundation of our relationship with the Lord and with one another. It has two wings, she said; one of trusting in the Lord, and one of extending His mercy to others.
“The message of Divine Mercy is ‘Jesus, I trust in you,’ not ‘Jesus, I understand everything.’ The message is one of trust,” she said. “We need to be like children: simple and humble and obedient. Come to Him, and you will be amazed at what marvels he does in your life.”
Today, on Divine Mercy Sunday, we have a glimpse of what we will be doing in Heaven – celebrating God’s mercy. Just stand before the Lord and pour out everything to Him. If you are angry, pour out the anger. If you are depressed, tell Him about it. If you are worried, tell Him. Give it to the Lord, and He will take care of it,” Sister Donata said.
“Just pray, ‘Jesus, I trust in you. You have a plan and you are in control. I trust in you.’ Then, marvel in what He does,” she said.
(Photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness