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No Divine Mercy in my parish
Question from Gloria on 4/8/2013:

My parish has a new pastor and I must be honest. Father is very difficult to get along with. He is very cold and and makes sure he keeps his distance from the parishioners.

I went to confession with Father this past weekend and he literally began snapping at me and interrupting me, sort of in a smart-aleck way, all throughout my confession. But the major problem was with Divine Mercy Sunday. Before confession, I asked Father for permission to place prayer cards with the Divine Mercy image and chaplet in the lobby, as I have done for about 12 years. He said, "No. We have about 400 of them leftover." I told Father that they're probably left over from the 2,000 prayer cards that I purchased for the parish several years ago. Father then made a groaning sound. During confession, I noted that I was asking our Lord for the plenary indulgence of forgiveness of all sins and temporal punishments, which is granted on Divine Mercy Sunday. Father said that this is "something that people created and made up; there's no truth to it." After my heart almost stopped beating, I told Father that "Blessed John Paul II declared this; it was not made up by a group of people." Father just continued on, firmly indicating that there would be no more discussion about it and that there would be no Divine Mercy in our parish.

Divine Mercy is my favorite and most devout devotion; it has helped me, and still helps me, get through many pain-filled days with my chronic illness. I feel so frustrated because I truly enjoy living the Divine Mercy and spreading the devotion, making it known as much as I can, yet I feel as though I failed to do so this year. Also, Divine Mercy Sunday is required to be celebrated in the universal Church. I could not explain this to our pastor; he would hear nothing of it.

Could you give me any advice on what to do? I'm praying very hard for Father right now, that he'll see the light and discover what wonder and power are in the Divine Mercy devotion, and celebrate the feast day at our parish in the coming years.

Answer by Catholic Answers on 4/9/2013:


According to what I could find on the matter, celebrating the feast of Divine Mercy in parishes is an option, not a requirement, for the universal Church. The day is known as "The Second Sunday of Easter or Sunday of Divine Mercy" (emphasis added). The primary celebration is the second Sunday of Easter; parishes may celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy but are not required. Also, keep in mind that the Divine Mercy chaplet and message is a private devotion. Catholics are not required to take up this devotion, and pastors are free to ask that it not be promoted in their parish.

What this means is that while Father may have been rude during confession and may have been unkind in his treatment of your request, but he is essentially acting within his rights to not allow the devotion to be promoted in his parish -- especially when there are leftover materials from previous years taking up space. At the time you might have offered to place the leftover cards in the church lobby, so as to use them up before bringing in more. At this point you should merely accept his decision in the matter.

If you remember the history of the Divine Mercy devotion, you'll know that the devotion was suppressed by the Vatican for about twenty years before its rehabilitation -- an event predicted by St. Faustina Kowalska. Once rehabilitated, the devotion spread like wildfire throughout the universal Church. If you consider this "mini-suppression" a similar grace and pray to St. Faustina and our Lord for the rehabilitation of the devotion in your parish, perhaps at some point the suppression will be lifted and the devotion will be spread throughout your parish far more effectively than it ever has been before.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers


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