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Pope Francis on Divine Mercy Sunday: The ‘fullness of life’ is ‘realized in Jesus’ 

April 7, 2024 Catholic News Agency 2
The Divine Mercy image is displayed at St. Peter’s Square before Pope Francis Regina Caeli prayer on April 7, 2024. / Credit: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images

Vatican City, Apr 7, 2024 / 09:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis during the Regina Caeli on Divine Mercy Sunday noted that the “fullness of life” comes not from the pursuit of transitory pleasure but is “realized in Jesus.” 

“To have life,” the pope said, “it is enough to fix one’s eyes on the crucified and risen Jesus, encountering him in the sacraments and in prayer, recognizing that he is present, believing in him, letting oneself be touched by his grace and guided by his example, experiencing the joy of loving like him. Every living encounter with Jesus enables us to have more life.” 

Divine Mercy Sunday, instituted by St. John Paul II during the Jubilee Year of 2000, is celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter.

Pope Francis delivers his Regina Caeli reflection on April 7, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis delivers his Regina Caeli reflection on April 7, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

The pope drew upon the disciples, despondent and secluded in the upper room, who “are going through the most tragic moment in life” to showcase how Christ’s coming to them was a deeply transformative moment, one that not only reveals his mercy but also promises a new life. 

“The Risen One comes to them and shows them his wounds,” the pope said. “They were the signs of suffering and pain, they could stir feelings of guilt, yet with Jesus they become channels of mercy and forgiveness.” 

“The disciples see and touch with their hands the fact that with Jesus, life wins; death and sin are defeated. And they receive the gift of his Spirit, which gives them a new life, as beloved sons, imbued with joy, love, and hope.”

Pope Francis presented this message in contrast with today’s prevalent narratives of what constitutes a good life and the pursuit of happiness, observing that it is “a frenetic race to enjoy and possess many things.” 

Cautioning against this materialistic and myopic view, he stressed that “by following the path of pleasure and power one does not find happiness.”

“Indeed, many aspects of existence remain unanswered, such as love, the inevitable experiences of pain, of limitations, and of death. And then the dream we all have in common remains unfulfilled,” the pope continued. 

To counter this tendency the pope encouraged the faithful to ask the following questions: “Do I believe in the power of the resurrection of Jesus, in his victory over sin, fear, and death? Do I let myself be drawn into a relationship with him? And do I let myself be prompted by him to love my brothers and sisters, and to hope every day?”

At the end of the Regina Caeli, the pope reiterated his long-standing call for a “lasting peace” in “the tormented Ukraine” as well as in Palestine and Israel by imploring leaders to find a way to de-escalate tensions and to negotiate.

The pope’s plea comes six months after the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, 2023, which to date has left over 33,000 civilians dead in the Gaza Strip. 


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Read the message for Divine Mercy Sunday that Pope John Paul II wrote just before he died

April 16, 2023 Catholic News Agency 2
Pope John Paul II, circa 1979. / L’Osservatore Romano.

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2023 / 08:00 am (CNA).

A message by Pope John Paul II for Divine Mercy Sunday, written prior to his death, was read April 2, 2005 — the day of his death — at the end of the first funeral Mass celebrated for the pontiff.

Then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri read the text before the recitation of the Regina Coeli, which during the Easter season replaces the Angelus.

The feast of divine mercy, celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter, was dear to the late pontiff, who instituted the feast day in 2000.

“To all of mankind, who so often seems lost and dominated by the power of evil, egoism, and fear, the risen Lord offers as a gift his love, which pardons, reconciles, and opens the soul again to hope,” the pope had written. “It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace. How the world needs to understand and welcome divine mercy!”

In his text, the pope commented on the Gospel reading in which the risen Christ appears to the apostles and shows them his punctured hands and side. “Those glorious wounds that he made an incredulous Thomas touch eight days later reveal God’s mercy who ‘so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,’” the pope’s text read.

“Lord, who with your death and resurrection revealed the Father’s love, we believe in you and with trust we repeat today: Jesus, I trust in you, have mercy on us and on the entire world,” the text continued.

“May the liturgical solemnity of the Annunciation, which we will celebrate tomorrow [in 2005 the Annunciation, March 25, fell on Palm Sunday, so the liturgical feast was moved to the Sunday after the second Sunday of Easter], encourage us to contemplate with the eyes of Mary the immense mystery of this merciful love that bursts forth from the heart of Christ,” he concluded.

This story was originally published on CNA on April 2, 2005, and was updated April 14, 2023.


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Divine Mercy Sunday 2022: Pope Francis preaches on the peace that God’s mercy brings

April 24, 2022 Catholic News Agency 0
Pope Francis at the Divine Mercy Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on April 24, 2022. / Vatican Media

Denver Newsroom, Apr 24, 2022 / 06:14 am (CNA).

Pope Francis in his homily for Divine Mercy Sunday encouraged everyone, especially priests, to remember the moments in their lives when they have experienced God’s forgiveness, and the joy and peace that God’s forgiveness brings.

“The joy God gives is indeed born of forgiveness. It bestows peace. It is a joy that raises us up without humiliating us,” Pope Francis said during his homily at the Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Brothers and sisters, let us think of all those times when we received the pardon and peace of Jesus. Each one of us has received them; each one of us has had that experience. It is good for us to remember those moments. Let us put the memory of God’s warm embrace before the memory of our own mistakes and failings. In this way, we will grow in joy.”

The pope urged meditation on the three times in the Gospels when Jesus uses the greeting: “Peace be with you,” the first of which being Jesus’ first encounter with his disciples following his resurrection.

When Jesus’ disciples first encounter the risen Jesus, they react joyfully, despite having abandoned their master during his Passion and death. Despite courageously following Jesus in the past, “They had good reason to feel not only afraid, but useless; they had failed,” the pope said.

“In this climate, they hear for the first time, ‘Peace be with you!’ The disciples ought to have felt shame, yet they rejoice. Why? Because seeing his face and hearing his greeting turned their attention away from themselves and towards Jesus,” Pope Francis said.

“They were distracted from themselves and their failures and attracted by his gaze, that brimmed not with severity but with mercy. Christ did not reproach them for what they had done, but showed them his usual kindness. And this revives them, fills their hearts with the peace they had lost and makes them new persons, purified by a forgiveness that is utterly unmerited.”

The forgiveness that Jesus shows to his disciples in the Gospels is the same forgiveness He extends through the sacrament of Confession, the pope said.

The second time Jesus says “Peace be with you” is when he gives his disciples the Holy Spirit, giving them the ability to forgive sins and thus making them “dispensers of the mercy that they themselves received.”

Speaking to priests, the pope told them to they must first accept God’s forgiveness if they are to extend that forgiveness to others.

“I am now speaking to you, missionaries of mercy: if you do not feel forgiven, do not carry out your service as a missionary of mercy until you feel that forgiveness,” the pope said.

“The mercy that we have received enables us to dispense a great deal of mercy and forgiveness. Today and every day, in the Church forgiveness must be received in this same way, through the humble goodness of a merciful confessor who sees himself not as the holder of some power but as a channel of mercy, who pours out upon others the forgiveness that he himself first received. From this arises the ability to forgive everything because God always forgives everything.”

There is no need to “torment” the faithful when they come to Confession, the pope said.

“It is necessary to understand their situation, to listen, to forgive and to offer good counsel so that they can move forward. God forgives everything and we must not close that door to people,” he said.

Finally, the pope noted, Jesus says “Peace be with you” to the Apostle Thomas, who doubted the Lord’s resurrection until he was able to put his hand in Jesus’ wounds.

“There are times of difficulty when life seems to belie faith, moments of crisis when we need to touch and see. Like Thomas, it is precisely in those moments that we rediscover the heart of Christ, the Lord’s mercy,” Pope Francis said.

“In those situations, Jesus does not approach us in triumph and with overwhelming proofs. He does not perform earth-shattering miracles, but instead offers us heartwarming signs of his mercy. He comforts us in the same way he did in today’s Gospel: he offers us his wounds. We must not forget this fact. In response to our sin, the Lord is always present offering us his wounds.”

God’s mercy often makes us more aware of our neighbors’ wounds, the pope said, encouraging everyone to seek to help those suffering in mind or body, to bring peace to those suffering spiritually or physically, and to listen and bring comfort to another person. For in doing such things we “encounter Jesus,” the pope said.

“We think that we are experiencing unbearable pain and situations of suffering, and we suddenly discover that others around us are silently enduring even worse things. If we care for the wounds of our neighbour and pour upon them the balm of mercy, we find being reborn within us a hope that comforts us in our weariness,” the pope said.

Divine Mercy Sunday, celebrated the Sunday after Easter each year, was instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in 2000.

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a 20th-century Polish nun who received prophetic messages from Christ, received revelations about the infinite mercy of God – coined the “Divine Mercy” – and her obligation to spread the message to the world, as recorded in her diary, “Divine Mercy in my soul.”


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Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday

April 15, 2022 Catholic News Agency 0

Crucifixion. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 15, 2022 / 07:26 am (CNA).
Pope Francis has called God’s mercy “an abyss beyond our comprehension.””God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bo… […]