Divine Mercy and Easter
Could an argument be made that the Divine Mercy Novena (which is traditionally prayed between Good Friday and the Sunday after Easter) is ill-placed? Think about it: Here in this most exalted, glorious and triumphant of weeks—the Easter octave—we meditate on the pain and suffering of Jesus during His passion. Would not this novena be more aptly positioned to end on Good Friday, when we remember and celebrate the hour of mercy that merited our redemption? Why did our Lord ask St. Faustina to meditate on His agony, passion and wounds when it seems more natural to be immersed in the glory and power of the Resurrection?
Colloquially, we speak of mercy as the act of forgiving something that cannot be paid back. Perhaps we might even speak of it as love totally given and totally unmerited. And yet, isn’t mercy so much more? Mercy is not something bestowed from above, from some lofty position of superiority. It is not given from a surplus or an excess. True mercy is not given by one who cannot understand the plight of another. This would be better defined as philanthropy, and a merciful person or Person is much more than a philanthropist. True mercy, divine mercy, as our Lord reveals it, is a gift given by One who enters into our plight of sin and suffering. This is the Incarnation. This is the Hidden Life. This is the Passion. Jesus fully enters into our experience. He suffered with us and for us. He suffered so as to experience our darkness, our fear, our uncertainty. And it is from His place of deepest suffering and darkness that the Resurrection bursts forth. The Resurrection: the victory of life over death, light over darkness, peace over suffering. It is available to us; it is for us! His Resurrection is our resurrection because His sufferings are our sufferings. It is more glorious because of the depths from which He rose!
I do not pretend to understand the designs of God, but I feel the current crisis reveals something of the mystery of Divine Mercy to me. In a time riddled with fear, anxiety, uncertainty, physical and emotional distress, I have a God who has been there. Suffice it to know that I understand all your troubles and misery…Know, too, that the darkness about which you complain I first endured in the Garden of Olives when My Soul was crushed in mortal anguish. (Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary #1487) If Jesus endured my fears and darkness during His Passion, then when He rose, He conquered my fears and darkness. His Resurrection began from my own experience of pain and sorrow. What I am experiencing now—distress at being separated from an ill loved one, anxiety over the future, sorrow for a suffering world—these experiences are where the Resurrection begins. He rises from that place! And if He can rise from there, is there any sorrow that cannot be conquered? As I meditate each day during the Octave of Easter on the depth of suffering from which He rose, I feel a sense of God’s consoling mercy. I am not alone in my uncertainty and fear; Jesus has preceded me and meets me there. In Him, Mercy conquers my suffering, my darkness, my heart.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
Sr. Mary Pieta, CFR