What a beautiful day! I love Holy Saturday. There is a rhythm of expectation that builds as a crescendo throughout the day. Good Friday was a busy one. We began with the outdoor Stations of the Cross, led by Archbishop Jerome Listecki, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill. It was a gorgeous day. While last year we were pelted by freezing rain (I watched the ice-balls form on the servers’ candles); this year the sleet was replaced with beams of sunshine. My boys served and the girls sang as we processed up Holy Hill, winding our way through the Stations of the Cross with hundreds of others, faithfully retracing Christ’s journey to Calvary.
Later, we returned to the Basilica for the Memorial of Our Lord’s Passion. As usual the church strained with an overflowing capacity, as Christ’s Passion was remembered in both Spanish and English. The devotion of the faithful (friars, pilgrims, and religious alike) was palpable for hours within these sacred walls.
The mundane chores of feeding, cleaning, and caring for my brood continued as the day wore on. After the family Rosary, and Night Prayer from the Divine Office, most of the family was blessed and tucked in bed. My husband, our eldest two children and I then sat up until 12:30 A.M., watching The Passion of The Christ, as is our tradition. The heart-wrenching scenes of the scourging, and carrying of the cross are freshly re-etched in my mind. I can barely look at the vivid pounding of the nails into Jesus hands as His arms are yanked from their joints. I cannot imagine watching these scenes nonchalantly; for each year, they seem to resonate more deeply within my very core.
Today, the sorrow of Good Friday seems to slowly be melting into the joy that is about to be Easter. The boys share the honor of serving for tonight’s Easter Vigil, and spent a couple hours at the Basilica practicing this morning. I hear the altar flowers are magnificent, and that their abundance fills the church. I can hardly wait to experience the sight and fragrance tonight. We brought baskets containing our Easter Vigil meal, and a bit of candy to the monastery office to be blessed by Fr. Dan. The daily chores continue, but with an eager anticipation of the glory of the Resurrection that we are about commemorate tonight.
As we prepare for the jubilant celebration of Easter, and the glorious octave that will follow, with gratitude we turn our gaze toward the unfathomable gifts our Lord bestows in His immeasurable love. The greatest of these is His Mercy.
As we prepare for the Feast of Divine Mercy, which occurs exactly one week after Easter, we reflect upon the immeasurable depth of God’s Mercy, and our personal response to that gift.
Regarding the gift of His Divine Mercy Our Lord told St. Maria Faustina:
“My Mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or an angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come from the very depths of my most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity (699, p. 286– Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”
We thus continue our preparation for the Feast of Divine Mercy, a Feast instituted by Our Lord, on which He tells us that “the very depths of His mercy are open.” In preparation, we continue our novena of chaplets. Remember, the Divine Mercy Chaplet is prayed on ordinary rosary beads. This link to the Marians of the Immaculate Conception Website gives clear directions for praying the Chaplet of Mercy: http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/praythechaplet.php.
Today we also, continue the novena dictated by our Lord to St. Maria Faustina. This novena, initiated for her private devotion, offers spiritual fruit for all who pray it faithfully. On each of the nine consecutive days prior to the Feast of Divine Mercy, Jesus requested that St. Faustina immerse a certain group of souls in the ocean of His Mercy. Our Lord would in turn bring those souls into the House of Our Heavenly Father. On the second day of the novena, Sr. Faustina was instructed to pray especially for the souls of the priests and religious.
Our Lord instructed:
“Today bring Me the souls of the priests and religious and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave Me strength to endure My bitter passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon all mankind (1212, p. 436– Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”
As I do not want to break copyright laws or plagiarize, for the entire text of St. Faustina’s novena Day 2, please visit the Marians of the Immaculate Conception site at: http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/novena/secondday.php.
Like St. Maria Faustina, let us endeavor to bring the souls of priests and religious into to abyss of Christ’s mercy. These faithful men and women are consecrated to the service of the Lord. They are the beloved laborers in His vineyard. Without them the channels of grace would close.
Without priests there would be no Mass. There would be no one to Baptize, washing away the stain of original sin, and bringing the Light of the Holy Spirit to our souls, and those of our children. Without priests there would be no Eucharist to nourish our souls, nor sacrament of penance to reconcile us to God when we had rejected His love. Without priests, we would have no hope of becoming soldiers for Christ, or having our marriages become truly sacramental unions. Without priests, our souls would never have the sacramental grace given as we prepare to leave this life and enter into the next. Our priests are a treasure, one this secular world often despises and rejects.
So too let us remember the religious sisters and brothers who support the church and the society with prayer, sacrifice, and works of charity. These hidden souls labor perpetually for the salvation of the world, and receive little positive attention for their monumental efforts. Just as the secular world distains the priests so too it seems to revel in ridiculing the very existence of religious sisters and brothers. In appreciation for the tremendous gift of priests and religious, let us follow Christ’s request, and immerse them in the abyss of His mercy, and present them to the Heavenly Father for His blessing.
Wishing you and yours the joy of a glorious Easter.
Praise the Lord for He is Risen!
Indeed, He is Truly Risen, Alleluia!
Ad Jesum per Mariam