Dear Friends in Christ,
Today in Rome Pope Francis solemnly declared that two of his predecessors now see God in the Face and may receive the veneration of all the faithful in the universal Church, and the declaration of this dogmatic fact by Pope Francis is in perfect harmony with his desire to announce the mercy of God to the ends of the earth and to shape the entire Church as a field hospital for those wounded by sin and in need of mercy. Pope Saint John XXIII and Pope Saint John Paul II are now enrolled in the Church’s universal liturgical calendar (on 11 October and 22 October respectively), and all Catholics should see these two remarkable men as models of holiness and heavenly intercessors. In convoking the Second Vatican Council, John XXIII said that he wanted the Church to provide the “medicine of mercy” for our suffering world, and the theme of God’s infinite mercy was a regular topic of John Paul the Great’s papal magisterium. All of which highlights the importance of these canonizations taking place on this day in the
liturgical calendar, a day which has has three names: 1) the Octave Day of Easter, 2) the Second Sunday of Easter, and 3) Divine Mercy Sunday.
The number eight has special meaning in the sacred liturgy because it is a symbol of the new creation. The drama of creation unfolded over seven symbolic days, and the eighth day is the sign of God’s pluperfect love revealed in the new creation. This is foreshadowed in the Old Covenant through circumcision taking place eight days after birth and is confirmed by the Resurrection taking place on Sunday, both the first day of the week and the eighth day. Accordingly, in the liturgical calendar the eight days from Easter Sunday until today are kept as one festive celebration of the Resurrection, and today completes the eighth day or Octave of Easter.
Moreover, because the Gospel appointed for today speaks of the divine power to forgive sins which the Lord Jesus gave to his Apostles when he first appeared to them after his Resurrection,
the emphasis of the liturgy today is on the great mercy of God. Modern devotion to the Lord Jesus as the embodiment of Divine Mercy is connected to the spirituality of St. Faustina, a Polish
mystic and religious Sister who was canonized by John Paul the Great in 2000 as the first saint of the new millennium. John Paul died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005 and was
beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2011, and it was Pope John Paul who decreed that the Second Sunday of Easter would be kept each year as Divine Mercy Sunday.
Two parishes in town are hosting special events today in observance of Divine Mercy Sunday and the canonizations. Both St. Rafka and Our Lady of the Rosary have devotions beginning at 3 pm, and details are in the e-bulletin. Pope Saint John XXIII and Pope Saint John Paul II, pray for us.