April 7, 2017
Although Divine Mercy Sunday is a feast that has its origin in
the lives of two saints of the twentieth century, St. Faustina Kowalska and
Pope St. John Paul II, a charming story about another saint from centuries prior never fails to come to my mind
when I think about God's untiring desire to forgive our sins and heal us with His
When St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
began to receive visions from Jesus about devotion to His Most Sacred Heart,
she sought a good confessor with whom to discuss her visions and to provide her
with spiritual direction. That priest, Fr. Claude de la Colombière, asked for
proof of her visions: he instructed her to ask God to reveal to her the last
sin that he had asked forgiveness for in confession. Margaret Mary agreed to
this request, and put this question to Jesus the next time He appeared to her.
And Jesus' answer, according to the
story? "I have forgotten."
Whether true or merely a poetical
embellishment upon St. Margaret Mary's life, I love this
story because it makes it hard for me
to forget the depth of God's mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation: "As far
as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us" (Ps.
Gospels are full of yet more vivid imagery that Jesus uses to emphasize his love
for sinners—the lost sheep, the lost coin, the Prodigal Son. All of these, stories
and saints' lives and Scripture alike, reassure us of God's love, love that
takes the name of mercy when we have sinned, and becomes a marvelous "forgetfulness"
after we have been forgiven.
As we prepare to rejoice in
Christ's Resurrection at Easter and to give thanks for God's mercy in our lives
a week later, on Divine Mercy Sunday, we might also consider praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for all who are involved in the
destruction of human life. Pray for their repentance and return to God's love.
Often, they struggle with guilt and grief long, long after confessing and asking
forgiveness from God. Some struggle to even believe themselves worthy of such
forgiveness. But no one is beyond the Lord's forgiveness. No one is beyond the
love of a God who became man and died to atone for every sin, who pursues each of
us with His love and mercy all our days. We should always remember this reason
for our joy at Easter, this reason we celebrate a feast of mercy.
Thomas is a staff assistant for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For Divine Mercy Sunday prayers and
reflections, visit: www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/prayers/divine-mercy-sunday.cfm.