VATICAN CITY, APRIL 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Devotion to Divine Mercy is “an integral dimension of a Christian’s faith and prayer,” says Benedict XVI.
The Pope highlighted the importance of this devotion today on Divine Mercy Sunday before praying the Regina Caeli with more than 50,000 individuals gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Devotion to Divine Mercy is a spiritual movement within the Church promoted by Sister Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938).
Pope John Paul II canonized the Polish religious April 30, 2000, and announced on the same day that “throughout the world, the second Sunday of Easter will receive the name of Divine Mercy Sunday.”
John Paul II, “valuing the spiritual experience of a humble religious, St. Faustina Kowalska … wanted the Sunday after Easter to be dedicated in a special way to Divine Mercy, and providence disposed that he should die precisely on the vigil of that day in the hands of Divine Mercy,” said Benedict XVI today in his address.
The Holy Father first commented on the day’s Gospel, which narrates the apparition of the risen Christ to the apostles gathered in the Upper Room: He “showed the disciples the signs of the crucifixion, very visible and tangible also in his glorious body.”
“Those sacred wounds, in the hands, the feet and the side, are an inexhaustible source of faith, hope and love in which each one can drink, especially souls most thirsty for divine mercy,” the Pontiff said.
“The mystery of the merciful love of God was the center of the pontificate of my venerated predecessor,” said Benedict XVI, alluding in particular to John Paul II’s 1980 encyclical, “Dives in Misericordia,” and the dedication of the shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland, in 2002.
“The words that [John Paul II] pronounced on that last occasion were as a synthesis of his magisterium, evidencing that the devotion to Divine Mercy is not a secondary, but an integral dimension of a Christian’s faith and prayer,” said Benedict XVI.
On Aug. 17, 2002, during the consecration of the Polish shrine, John Paul II had said: “Outside the mercy of God, there is no other source of hope for man.”
That day, the Polish Pontiff “solemnly entrusted the world to the Divine Mercy … with the ardent desire that the message of the merciful love of God … reach all the inhabitants of the earth,” said Benedict XVI.
In his last message, made known posthumously, John Paul II expressed the hope that humanity would understand Divine Mercy.
Every time Benedict XVI mentioned Pope John Paul II’s name, he was interrupted by applause and numerous posters reading “Santo subito!” (Sainthood now!) referring to the late Pope’s cause of beatification.
Many individuals in the square also carried images inspired by a vision St. Faustina had of Christ. The images carry the inscription “Jesus, I trust in you.”