“Let us today, like Thomas, implore the grace to acknowledge our God:
to find in His forgiveness our joy, and to find in His mercy our hope.” (Pope Francis)
Today, Divine Mercy has united souls around the globe. In Churches, grottoes and shrines across the world, devout souls have come together to honour the Merciful Jesus and to respond to His own request that this day be celebrated as the Feast of Divine Mercy. All of us have heard the request of the Lord, and responded to it.
In the Vatican, our Holy Father Pope Francis celebrated Mass this morning in Saint Peter’s Square with around 35,000 pilgrims. The Pope spoke about the Apostle Thomas and his desire to truly ‘see’ the Risen Lord –
“Despite his lack of faith, we should be grateful to Thomas, because he was not content to hear from others that Jesus was alive, or merely to see him in the flesh. He wanted to see inside, to touch with his hand the Lord’s wounds, the signs of his love. The Gospel calls Thomas Didymus, meaning the Twin, and in this he is truly our twin brother. Because for us too, it isn’t enough to know that God exists.
A God who is risen but remains distant does not fill our lives; an aloof God does not attract us, however just and holy he may be. No, we too need to “see God”, to touch him with our hands and to know that he is risen, and risen for us.”
(Pope Francis, Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday, 2018)
At Carfin Grotto in Scotland this afternoon, a large crowd also gathered to honour the Merciful Lord. Here, at the national shrine in honour of Our Blessed Lady, the Feast of Divine Mercy was led by Parish Priest and Guardian of the Shrine, Father Francis McGachey.
The afternoon began with a very beautiful Holy Hour, during which the Lord was adored in the Blessed Sacrament, exposed on the Altar in the Monstrance.
During this time, extracts from the Diary of Saint Faustina were read and the Divine Mercy Image was solemnly venerated.
The Litany of Divine Mercy was prayed, interspersed with hymns and further extracts from the Diary, particularly as they related to the Image and to the Feast.
Then, Prayers of Intercession were read – for the Pope, our Bishop, the sick and suffering, all of us, and families; after these, an Act of Entrustment of the world and the destiny of mankind was made to the Eternal Father, through the Merciful Lord.
The Holy Hour concluded with the praying of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
In his homily during Mass, Fr McGachey spoke about examples of mercy; each of the people he spoke about had experienced terrible events in their lives and yet all had publicly forgiven those who had harmed them. The witness of each of these people had been particularly powerful, noted Fr McGachey, adding that he still recalls the effect upon him from hearing one of these stories first-hand a number of years ago.
After this very moving Mass, the gathered faithful moved toward the Image of Divine Mercy in order to venerate it, which was a lovely sight to see. The faithful were also invited to explore the numerous outdoor and subterranean Chapels and Shrines in the grounds of Carfin Grotto, including the fairly new Divine Mercy Chapel.
All of us gathered today for reasons best known to each of us.
For some, it will have been simply because the Lord asked us – through Saint Faustina – to do so.
For some, it may have been because of the extraordinary promise attached by the Lord to the celebration of this Feast, assuming the necessary conditions are met; or for the Plenary Indulgence given to the faithful under the usual conditions for the celebration of the Feast; or for some other, personal, reason.
Regardless of our reasons, however, it is likely that running through them all is a common strand – that of hope.
The Lord Himself said to St Faustina that His Divine Mercy is ‘the last hope of salvation’ for souls (Diary, entry 964). Certainly, on this day of all days, the very Feast of Divine Mercy, many souls besiege Heaven with the power and the strength of their TRUST in the Merciful Lord – and I have no doubt that this deluge of prayer, praise and petition merits great graces and mercy for many other souls, who may or may not know anything about Divine Mercy – but who will profit from it regardless of that.