Christine Myers
Archives

Dr. Christine Myers is an affiliate tutor of the Alcuin Institute. She also serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation & Catholic Culture at St. Bernard's Parish in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Archive Search

Christine Myers Archives

Divine Mercy Sunday Indulgence and Graces

In private revelations to St. Faustina Kowalska in the 1930s, Jesus called for the Second Sunday of Easter to be celebrated as the Feast of Mercy or Divine Mercy Sunday. He promised the complete remission of all sin and all punishment due to sin for those who go to Confession and Communion that day.
My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary of St. Faustina 699)
When Pope Saint John Paul II canonized St. Faustina on April 30, 2000, he established the Feast of Divine Mercy for the universal Church. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments followed with an official decree on May 23, 2000 regarding Divine Mercy Sunday. On June 29, 2002, another decree granted a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions for those who honor the Divine Mercy on that day. A plenary (“full”) indulgence is granted by the Church for certain acts of devotion judged to be of great spiritual benefit. The one who obtains such an indulgence is released from any punishment in Purgatory that they may have justly incurred up to that point. There has been some debate about whether the promise Jesus made regarding the “complete forgiveness of sin and punishment” on Divine Mercy Sunday is one and the same as the plenary indulgence established by the Church in 2002. Why does this matter? A plenary indulgence is obtained only under certain conditions – complete detachment from sin, Confession within a certain period of time, the reception of Holy Communion, and prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father. In addition to these, the plenary indulgence of Divine Mercy Sunday also requires:
  • “in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy
  • or, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. “Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”).”
Some people may be discouraged to learn that they must conduct their devotions “in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin” in order to receive the grace of Divine Mercy Sunday. If Jesus’ promised graces and the plenary indulgence established by the Church are one and the same, then it would seem that only those who are already quite holy can obtain the graces promised by Jesus. Who can say with certainty that they are free from all affection for sin, even venial sin? It seems to me that to understand the grace of Divine Mercy Sunday as one and the same as the plenary indulgence contradicts the very meaning and object of the feast, which is an outpouring of mercy for sinners. In his words to St. Faustina, Jesus requires that we go to Confession and Holy Communion to obtain the promised graces. On the other hand, Jesus commands us to “be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect” and calls us to love as He loves. No one gets a free pass to live a life of sin – or even mediocrity, for that matter. To understand Divine Mercy Sunday as a loophole to authentic conversion and sanctification of our lives would amount to the sin of presumption. We could say the same thing about going to Confession. We need to cultivate true repentance and the sincere effort to change our lives. So, how should we receive the graces of this great feast? Should we strive for the indulgence or just put our hope in Jesus’ words to St. Faustina? I would make the following suggestion. Divine Mercy Sunday is a day for sinners, and we are all sinners. It offers us the opportunity to let ourselves be healed of sin and relieved of the just punishment that is their due. Trust is the means by which we obtain God’s mercy, not by a fearful withholding of our lives and troubles from our loving God. So I think we have every reason to celebrate this feast and hope for the graces promised by Jesus. God’s mercy is not, however, an excuse to tolerate sin in our lives.  Finding ourselves reluctant to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to God, we can pray for the grace we need to overcome whatever is holding us back. We can strive for “complete detachment from sin” by considering how unreasonable and ungrateful it would be to seek God’s gifts – and every good thing in our lives is His gift – while persevering in offending Him. Let’s strive sincerely and wholeheartedly to fulfill the requirements for receiving a plenary indulgence on Divine Mercy Sunday. If after our best efforts, God finds that we still fall short, let’s entrust our misery to Him. The Mercy of God is capable of working miracles. Let’s open our hearts to Him and give him permission to change us. Concerning the Feast of Mercy Jesus said: Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. (Diary of St. Faustina 300) I want the image solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it. (Diary 341) This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. (Diary 420) On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary 699) Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it. (Diary 742) I want to grant complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy. (Diary 1109)

John Paul II & The Revelatory Nature of the Human Person

Pope John Paul II, Karol Józef Wojtyła, was born in Wadowice, Poland, on May 18, 1920, and died in Rome on the Eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, April 2, 2005. Karol experienced firsthand the dehumanizing Nazi and Communist regimes that controlled Poland during his lifetime, and he participated in the cultural resistance to these forces. Ordained to the priesthood after formation in an underground seminary, he later became a professor of philosophy at the University of Lublin in Poland. He was elevated to the episcopacy in 1958, participated in the Second Vatican Council, was named to the College of Cardinals in 1967, and was elected Pope in 1978. As Pope, John Paul II was known for his role in the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, his constant efforts to evangelize the young, his interreligious and ecumenical outreach, and his prolific writings, especially his work of Christian anthropology titled Theology of the Body. He was canonized a saint of the Catholic Church by Pope Francis on September 30, 2013. His feast is celebrated on October 22. Many Catholics, especially those who belong to the “John Paul II Generation”, owe a personal debt of gratitude to Pope Saint John Paul II as a true father in faith. Many of us were evangelized by his tireless travels, instructed by his writings, and edified by his lived example of faith and hope in suffering. One of his greatest contributions to the Church is his penetrating insights into the nature of the human person; more specifically the importance of the human body.  John Paul II has given us a Christ-centered response to the modern tendency to treat the human body as an impersonal object and in doing so he has deepened the Church’s understanding of human dignity, human sexuality, marriage and family life. Taking the teaching of Christ as his starting point, the saint helped us understand more deeply the meaning of our being created in the image and likeness of God, who is a communion of three divine Persons. He also restored our reverence for the human body. This renewed respect for the human body offers new insight into the importance of sexual difference. According to the Pope John Paul II the human person was created by God for his own sake with the gifts of intellect and free will. These faculties make him capable of knowledge, love, self-possession and self-gift. In other words, the human person is a relational being. For this reason, it is through the experience of authentic love and the sincere gift of self that he comes to the full realization of his identity as an image of God. “[The Lord Jesus] implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God’s sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium et Spes, 24). Freely given existence by the Creator, creation is characterized through and through by what John Paul II calls the “hermeneutic of the gift”. Namely, by understanding the entirety of creation in terms of a gratuitous gift of a good and loving Creator, we begin to unlock the meaning of existence. The human person is capable of recognizing this gift and rendering thanks to the Creator (TOB 13.3-4). Our deepest identity and vocation can be understood in these terms as well. We are to respond to God’s generous love by a sincere gift of self to God and others. John Paul II’s analysis of the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis deepens the Church’s teaching on the dignity and importance of the human body, created male and female. In the first place, the human being is an image of God because of man’s spiritual nature endowed with intellect and will. However, the bodily nature of the human person also participates at its own level in this image of God, and can therefore reveal – or make known – not only the communal nature of man, but the communal nature of God. Pope John Paul II teaches that the reason for this participation lies in the unity of the body and soul. The human soul gives the body its form and makes it a living whole. The body is nothing less than the person himself made manifest in the flesh. This makes the body personal rather than merely an object. John Paul II will compare the body to a sacrament, that is, a visible sign that makes present an invisible reality. The body makes visible the invisible, spiritual reality of the person. From this perspective, John Paul II discerns the order and importance of sexual difference. The fact that human beings are conceived and born from the bodily union of a man and woman, and the fact that the body bears the characteristics of male or female, point to our vocation to communion with others. The body speaks of the vocation to authentic love. The total, mutual, faithful and exclusive gift of spouses in the marriage bond is another form of man’s imaging the purely spiritual and divine communion of the three divine Persons. God is the divine archetype and pattern for the family. To embrace a modern objectification of the human body, or to deny what JPII calls the “primordial duality” of the sexes would be to reject the very development of the Church’s thought that is so needed in our time. John Paul II’s insights into the human body – its maleness and femaleness – reveal the that human person is meant for communion that is ordered to fruitfulness. This reading of the human person, in turn, reveals that man and woman are authentic images of the mysterious communal reality of the Godhead.  If St. Thomas Aquinas offered us the first great defense of the importance of the body, Pope Saint John Paul II deepens this understanding and expands it to include sexual difference, marriage and family. We need the lessons God taught us through his pontificate in order to navigate the on-going spiritual and anthropological crisis of our times.

Archive Search

Divine Mercy Sunday Indulgence and Graces

In private revelations to St. Faustina Kowalska in the 1930s, Jesus called for the Second Sunday of Easter to be celebrated as the Feast of Mercy or Divine Mercy Sunday. He promised the complete remission of all sin and all punishment due to sin for those who go to Confession and Communion that day.
My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary of St. Faustina 699)
When Pope Saint John Paul II canonized St. Faustina on April 30, 2000, he established the Feast of Divine Mercy for the universal Church. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments followed with an official decree on May 23, 2000 regarding Divine Mercy Sunday. On June 29, 2002, another decree granted a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions for those who honor the Divine Mercy on that day. A plenary (“full”) indulgence is granted by the Church for certain acts of devotion judged to be of great spiritual benefit. The one who obtains such an indulgence is released from any punishment in Purgatory that they may have justly incurred up to that point. There has been some debate about whether the promise Jesus made regarding the “complete forgiveness of sin and punishment” on Divine Mercy Sunday is one and the same as the plenary indulgence established by the Church in 2002. Why does this matter? A plenary indulgence is obtained only under certain conditions – complete detachment from sin, Confession within a certain period of time, the reception of Holy Communion, and prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father. In addition to these, the plenary indulgence of Divine Mercy Sunday also requires:
  • “in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy
  • or, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. “Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”).”
Some people may be discouraged to learn that they must conduct their devotions “in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin” in order to receive the grace of Divine Mercy Sunday. If Jesus’ promised graces and the plenary indulgence established by the Church are one and the same, then it would seem that only those who are already quite holy can obtain the graces promised by Jesus. Who can say with certainty that they are free from all affection for sin, even venial sin? It seems to me that to understand the grace of Divine Mercy Sunday as one and the same as the plenary indulgence contradicts the very meaning and object of the feast, which is an outpouring of mercy for sinners. In his words to St. Faustina, Jesus requires that we go to Confession and Holy Communion to obtain the promised graces. On the other hand, Jesus commands us to “be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect” and calls us to love as He loves. No one gets a free pass to live a life of sin – or even mediocrity, for that matter. To understand Divine Mercy Sunday as a loophole to authentic conversion and sanctification of our lives would amount to the sin of presumption. We could say the same thing about going to Confession. We need to cultivate true repentance and the sincere effort to change our lives. So, how should we receive the graces of this great feast? Should we strive for the indulgence or just put our hope in Jesus’ words to St. Faustina? I would make the following suggestion. Divine Mercy Sunday is a day for sinners, and we are all sinners. It offers us the opportunity to let ourselves be healed of sin and relieved of the just punishment that is their due. Trust is the means by which we obtain God’s mercy, not by a fearful withholding of our lives and troubles from our loving God. So I think we have every reason to celebrate this feast and hope for the graces promised by Jesus. God’s mercy is not, however, an excuse to tolerate sin in our lives.  Finding ourselves reluctant to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to God, we can pray for the grace we need to overcome whatever is holding us back. We can strive for “complete detachment from sin” by considering how unreasonable and ungrateful it would be to seek God’s gifts – and every good thing in our lives is His gift – while persevering in offending Him. Let’s strive sincerely and wholeheartedly to fulfill the requirements for receiving a plenary indulgence on Divine Mercy Sunday. If after our best efforts, God finds that we still fall short, let’s entrust our misery to Him. The Mercy of God is capable of working miracles. Let’s open our hearts to Him and give him permission to change us. Concerning the Feast of Mercy Jesus said: Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. (Diary of St. Faustina 300) I want the image solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it. (Diary 341) This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. (Diary 420) On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary 699) Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it. (Diary 742) I want to grant complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy. (Diary 1109)

John Paul II & The Revelatory Nature of the Human Person

Pope John Paul II, Karol Józef Wojtyła, was born in Wadowice, Poland, on May 18, 1920, and died in Rome on the Eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, April 2, 2005. Karol experienced firsthand the dehumanizing Nazi and Communist regimes that controlled Poland during his lifetime, and he participated in the cultural resistance to these forces. Ordained to the priesthood after formation in an underground seminary, he later became a professor of philosophy at the University of Lublin in Poland. He was elevated to the episcopacy in 1958, participated in the Second Vatican Council, was named to the College of Cardinals in 1967, and was elected Pope in 1978. As Pope, John Paul II was known for his role in the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, his constant efforts to evangelize the young, his interreligious and ecumenical outreach, and his prolific writings, especially his work of Christian anthropology titled Theology of the Body. He was canonized a saint of the Catholic Church by Pope Francis on September 30, 2013. His feast is celebrated on October 22. Many Catholics, especially those who belong to the “John Paul II Generation”, owe a personal debt of gratitude to Pope Saint John Paul II as a true father in faith. Many of us were evangelized by his tireless travels, instructed by his writings, and edified by his lived example of faith and hope in suffering. One of his greatest contributions to the Church is his penetrating insights into the nature of the human person; more specifically the importance of the human body.  John Paul II has given us a Christ-centered response to the modern tendency to treat the human body as an impersonal object and in doing so he has deepened the Church’s understanding of human dignity, human sexuality, marriage and family life. Taking the teaching of Christ as his starting point, the saint helped us understand more deeply the meaning of our being created in the image and likeness of God, who is a communion of three divine Persons. He also restored our reverence for the human body. This renewed respect for the human body offers new insight into the importance of sexual difference. According to the Pope John Paul II the human person was created by God for his own sake with the gifts of intellect and free will. These faculties make him capable of knowledge, love, self-possession and self-gift. In other words, the human person is a relational being. For this reason, it is through the experience of authentic love and the sincere gift of self that he comes to the full realization of his identity as an image of God. “[The Lord Jesus] implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God’s sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium et Spes, 24). Freely given existence by the Creator, creation is characterized through and through by what John Paul II calls the “hermeneutic of the gift”. Namely, by understanding the entirety of creation in terms of a gratuitous gift of a good and loving Creator, we begin to unlock the meaning of existence. The human person is capable of recognizing this gift and rendering thanks to the Creator (TOB 13.3-4). Our deepest identity and vocation can be understood in these terms as well. We are to respond to God’s generous love by a sincere gift of self to God and others. John Paul II’s analysis of the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis deepens the Church’s teaching on the dignity and importance of the human body, created male and female. In the first place, the human being is an image of God because of man’s spiritual nature endowed with intellect and will. However, the bodily nature of the human person also participates at its own level in this image of God, and can therefore reveal – or make known – not only the communal nature of man, but the communal nature of God. Pope John Paul II teaches that the reason for this participation lies in the unity of the body and soul. The human soul gives the body its form and makes it a living whole. The body is nothing less than the person himself made manifest in the flesh. This makes the body personal rather than merely an object. John Paul II will compare the body to a sacrament, that is, a visible sign that makes present an invisible reality. The body makes visible the invisible, spiritual reality of the person. From this perspective, John Paul II discerns the order and importance of sexual difference. The fact that human beings are conceived and born from the bodily union of a man and woman, and the fact that the body bears the characteristics of male or female, point to our vocation to communion with others. The body speaks of the vocation to authentic love. The total, mutual, faithful and exclusive gift of spouses in the marriage bond is another form of man’s imaging the purely spiritual and divine communion of the three divine Persons. God is the divine archetype and pattern for the family. To embrace a modern objectification of the human body, or to deny what JPII calls the “primordial duality” of the sexes would be to reject the very development of the Church’s thought that is so needed in our time. John Paul II’s insights into the human body – its maleness and femaleness – reveal the that human person is meant for communion that is ordered to fruitfulness. This reading of the human person, in turn, reveals that man and woman are authentic images of the mysterious communal reality of the Godhead.  If St. Thomas Aquinas offered us the first great defense of the importance of the body, Pope Saint John Paul II deepens this understanding and expands it to include sexual difference, marriage and family. We need the lessons God taught us through his pontificate in order to navigate the on-going spiritual and anthropological crisis of our times.