LegalWorks Apostolate - Counsel for a Culture of Life

Mercy Sunday and the Beatification of John Paul the Great

A Reflection back to the Mercy Sunday of 2000

By Bob Laird

Today Pope John Paul II is beatified. Today is also Mercy Sunday. What a great day for Catholics and a great day for the Church!

I was the Family Life Director of the Arlington Diocese 11 years ago the Jubilee Year. One of my additional duties"was to coordinate each of the Station Church Masses which Bishop Loverde would celebrate over the course of the year. These Masses were intended to be celebrated in churches which had historical or otherwise special significance within the Arlington Diocese. We began with the oldest parish, St. Mary's in Old Town Alexandria founded in 1795. There were two churches on the list which were unique for other purposes: We celebrated a Mass at St. Louis Parish in Alexandria since the station church"the Poor Clare Monastery was too small. Finally, Saint Agnes Church in Arlington was designated as a station church because of the pastor and parishioner's devotion to Divine Mercy. That Mass would be celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter.

I vividly recall the excitement of the Easter Octave blending into the canonization of Saint Faustina in Rome on that day. We had heard that there would be another "pending announcement"that our beloved Pope John Paul II would designate the first Sunday after Easter to be forevermore - Mercy Sunday.

I needed to positively verify that the latter statement was actually made at the Mass in Rome and then pass that information along to Bishop Loverde. Fortunately, due to the understanding of time with relation to the rotation of the earth on its axis and its revolution around the sun, the event in Rome was held several hours earlier. Beginning at 7:00 a.m. in the morning, I patrolled the Vatican website looking for either the Holy Father's homily for the day - which generally is not posted in English that soon or some other validation of the designation of Mercy Sunday.

Finally, I think it was Zenit which broadcasted the news in the form of a bulletin around 10:30 a.m. simply saying what I needed to hear. By now, I was departing for the Mass and only had a moment to scribble something down on a piece of paper the news and pass it to Bishop Loverde as he was vesting for the Mass.

There was always a special excitement at the Jubilee Masses at the various station churches. This one seemed to be different because of the earlier canonization of St. Faustina occurring in Rome. This one showed, more than ever, the universality of the Church in that an event occurring in Rome, was simultaneously affirmed by the Arlington Diocese in Virginia. St. Agnes Church was packed. There was the anticipation of the celebration along with the arrival of our Bishop. As Bishop Loverde arrived at the altar and welcomed the congregation, he noted that earlier on that day, the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, had forever designated this Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter, to be Mercy Sunday. The church erupted in applause. What a beautiful day that was!

What a beautiful day today is when, eleven years later, we are celebrating on Mercy Sunday the beatification of Blessed John Paul the Great!

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