Today we celebrate, as a global church, the elevation of two new saints — two recent popes — Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. What an exciting day for the church — and to have it coincide with Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast added to the liturgical calendar by John Paul , is especially meaningful. Find coverage here and here. Don’t forget to check out the Vatican resource for the canonizations of St John XXIII and St John Paul II.
A few quotes from John Paul II that are dear to me…
God has chosen our own times for this purpose… The message of merciful love needs to resound forcefully anew. The world needs this love. The hour has come to bring Christ’s message to everyone… The hour has come when the message of Divine Mercy is able to fill hearts with hope and to become the spark of the new civilization: the civilization of love.
John Paul II
Beatification Homily of the four Poles
in Poland on August, 18. 2002.
Here’s a few more thoughts on mercy from St John Paul II’s 1980 encyclical on mercy, Dives in Misericordia, on God’s “most stupendous attribute”… and his infinite mercy.
“He who has seen me has seen the Father.” [Jn. 14:9.]
The Church professes the mercy of God, the Church lives by it in her wide experience of faith and also in her teaching, constantly contemplating Christ, concentrating on Him, on His life and on His Gospel, on His cross and resurrection, on His whole mystery. Everything that forms the “vision” of Christ in the Church’s living faith and teaching brings us nearer to the “vision of the Father” in the holiness of His mercy. The Church seems in a particular way to profess the mercy of God and to venerate it when she directs herself to the Heart of Christ. In fact, it is precisely this drawing close to Christ in the mystery of His Heart which enables us to dwell on this point-a point in a sense central and also most accessible on the human level-of the revelation of the merciful love of the Father, a revelation which constituted the central content of the messianic mission of the Son of Man.
The Church lives an authentic life when she professes and proclaims mercy-the most stupendous attribute of the Creator and of the Redeemer-and when she brings people close to the sources of the Savior’s mercy, of which she is the trustee and dispenser. Of great significance in this area is constant meditation on the Word of God, and above all conscious and mature participation in the Eucharist and in the sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation. The Eucharist brings us ever nearer to that love which is more powerful than death: “For as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup,” we proclaim not only the death of the Redeemer but also His resurrection, “until he comes” in glory. [Cf. 1 Cor. 11:26; acclamation in the Roman Missal.]
It is precisely because sin exists in the world, which “God so loved…that he gave his only Son,” [Jn. 3:16.] that God, who “is love,” [1 Jn. 4:8.] cannot reveal Himself otherwise than as mercy. This corresponds not only to the most profound truth of that love which God is, but also to the whole interior truth of man and of the world which is man’s temporary homeland.
Mercy in itself, as a perfection of the infinite God, is also infinite. Also infinite therefore and inexhaustible is the Father’s readiness to receive the prodigal children who return to His home. Infinite are the readiness and power of forgiveness which flow continually from the marvelous value of the sacrifice of the Son. No human sin can prevail over this power or even limit it. On the part of man only a lack of good will can limit it, a lack of readiness to be converted and to repent, in other words persistence in obstinacy, opposing grace and truth, especially in the face of the witness of the cross and resurrection of Christ.
Therefore, the Church professes and proclaims conversion. Conversion to God always consists in discovering His mercy, that is, in discovering that love which is patient and kind [Cf. 1 Cor. 13:4.] as only the Creator and Father can be; the love to which the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” [2 Cor. 1:3.] is faithful to the uttermost consequences in the history of His covenant with man; even to the cross and to the death and resurrection of the Son. Conversion to God is always the fruit of the”rediscovery of this Father, who is rich in mercy.
Authentic knowledge of the God of mercy, the God of tender love, is a constant and inexhaustible source of conversion, not only as a momentary interior act but also as a permanent attitude, as a state of mind.