Celebrant: Our heavenly Father loves us and cares for our needs. In faith, we bring our prayers to him with confidence inspired by the Resurrection of his Son.
That the Church may be empowered by the Spirit to share the faith with all the world, and for an abundance of good and holy shepherds to lead us, we pray to the Lord...That Church leaders will bear witness to the good news of the resurrection and stay true to the mission entrusted to them, we pray to the Lord...That as the apostles put their resources at the service of the needy, so we may support the efforts of pregnancy resource centers that provide alternatives to abortion, we pray to the Lord...That those who are ill may experience the healing power of Christ through the care of those dedicated to their care, we pray to the Lord...That those who have died may have their sins forgiven through God's grace and mercy and may share fully in the promise of the Resurrection, we pray to the Lord...
Loving Father, we offer these prayers to you today with confidence in your constant love for us, and through the merits of Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Today’s observance of Divine Mercy Sunday is a good time to renew our devotion to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. There is a close link between this devotion and the pro-life movement. Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, who was a principal translator of St. Faustina's diary, and the postulator of her cause of canonization, writes the following:
"On at least three occasions, from 8:00-11:00 in the evening, she felt like her insides were being torn apart. She suffered so much that she thought she was going to die. The doctors couldn't figure out what was ailing her, and no medication was able to alleviate her sufferings. Later, she was given to understand that she was undergoing those pains for mothers who were aborting their children (Diary, 1276).
"On another occasion, she had a vision of an angel coming with thunderbolts to destroy one of the most beautiful cities of her country. And she felt powerless to do anything about it (Diary, 474). What antidote did the Lord give her? The Chaplet of Divine Mercy. [She explained] that the city was to be chastised for its sins, primarily the sin of abortion." ("Wombs of Mercy," Marian Helpers Bulletin, Summer 1995, p.13).
In 2003, Pope John Paul II issued an Apostolic Blessing to all who pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet “for mothers, that they not abort their offspring; for infants in danger of being put to death in the womb; for a change of heart of providers of abortions and of their collaborators; for human victims of stem cell research, genetic manipulation, cloning and euthanasia; and for all entrusted with the government of peoples, that they may promote the Culture of Life, so as to put an end to the culture of death."
Acts 4:32-351 Jn 5:1-6Jn 20:19-31
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It is one thing to doubt the fact that Jesus is risen, as Thomas did. We, however, are more likely to doubt the power flowing from that Resurrection, -- a power that can keep us from sin. Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, but mercy is not to be confused with presumption or permission to sin. In fact, it is precisely in giving us commandments that, as the second reading tells us, “are not burdensome,” that God shows his mercy. It is not simply our weakness that “God understands.” He understands, first of all, our need of him, and the fact that we flourish only by living a life in union with his will. Therefore, his mercy provides us with every ounce of strength we need to actually fulfill the commandments, which is the same as to fulfill the demands of love.
Love has concrete demands, beginning with a reverence and absolute respect for one another’s lives, and the lives of the weakest and most vulnerable in our midst. Actions that deliberately take innocent human life are always contrary to love. Yet “his commandments are not burdensome,” because by our faith in his Resurrection, we have the power to love as he loves, even to the point of sacrificing ourselves as he sacrificed himself.
Thomas found the strength to believe when he returned to the unity of the Church. Perhaps when Thomas was missing on Easter night, he was out looking for Jesus on his own. After all, he was the kind of person who wanted to see for himself. But he actually found Jesus only when he returned to be with Peter and the other apostles. We too will find the strength to believe, to carry out the commandments, and to respect every human life, when we maintain close unity with the Church, the community of believers built on the apostles.