“Though sinless, the Lord has been put to death. The world is in mourning as for an only son (Psalmody, Antiphon 1, Divine Office Holy Saturday).”
Holy Saturday begins with a mix of emotions. While a growing sense of anticipation is palpable an acute tinge of sorrow remains. Good Friday was physically and emotionally exhausting – and if celebrated deeply, it should be. By Good Friday Night Prayer, our bodies should be feeling the effects of a day of strict fasting, and just as our hearts and souls ache from contemplating the suffering and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As we settle down to slumber with a “May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death,” still on our lips from Night Prayer, we entrust body and soul to the compassionate and providential care of Our God.
Holy Saturday morning finds us waiting in anticipation. Last night, my older children and I stayed up and watched the movie, “The Passion of Christ.” Each Good Friday, we watch it together, and I am profoundly shaken by the depth of our Lord’s Mercy and the significance of His Slavific Sacrifice. Throughout this Holy Saturday, I have found myself reflecting on Our Lord’s Harrowing of Hades – yes , even in death He was not asleep – but rather extending His Mercy to those who had fallen asleep in the promise and Hope of a Redeemer.
As I brought my kids to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians for an early morning practice for tonight’s Easter Vigil, the flowers has been lovingly arranged around the main altar and Shrine chapel. The tabernacle remains empty – someone is missing. Yet, the Resurrection is a certainty – it has been promised and our redemption is at hand. Today, as we prepare to celebrate the most sacred Solemnity of the year, let us strive to profoundly adore our Crucified Christ with all of the devotion and love we can possibly offer. By worshipping Him intensely and immersing ourselves in the mystery of salvation, may we be blessed to share fully the Glory of His Resurrection for all Eternity.
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.
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).”
“Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service,* that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard — upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.”
* In the original text, Saint Faustina uses the pronoun “us” since she was offering this prayer as a consecrated religious sister. The wording adapted here is intended to make the prayer suitable for universal use (source: Marian Press, Marians of the Immaculate Conception.)
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, we would not have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass [nor for our Eastern brethren, the Divine Liturgy]. 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, monks 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 disdains 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, and Blessed Pascha.
Praise the Lord for He is Risen!
Indeed, He is Truly Risen, Alleluia!
Ad Jesum per Mariam
** Divine Mercy Celebrations will be held at churches world-wide in accordance with Our Lord’s directive to St. Maria Faustina. Confessions, Holy Mass (often at 3 p.m.) and the singing of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy usually occur at these events. There is a true outpouring of grace at these events.
Contact your local Archdiocesan Office for details and locations of hosting churches.