This Sunday after Easter is traditionally called “Low Sunday” or Quasimodo Sunday. In some circles, it has becomes (almost universally) “Divine Mercy Sunday.” Now, this is not a blog post on the Divine Mercy Chaplet, its devotion, St. Faustina Kowalska, no a commentary on Bl. Pope John Paul II’s declaration of Low Sunday to be called “Divine Mercy Sunday.” In point of fact, this Sunday is now properly called Divine Mercy Sunday, as Bl. John Paul II initiated this on April 30, 2000, in his homily at the canonization of St. Faustina. So, that’s just fine. Although, it is noteworthy to point out that the third edition of Roman Missal, having been promulgated prior to that homily, and translated much, much, MUCH later, does not seem to mandate this (it says “Second Sunday of Easter [or of Divine Mercy]”)—a curious fact which I would hardly call an oversight so much as a relaxing of JP2’s proclamation, so as to permit the Church to celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy as an option.
Whatever the case, something came across my desk that really infuriated me. I don’t know where it came from, but apparently it’s being marketed as the granting of a Plenary Indulgence. Here’s the text of the flyer:
“Imagine your soul being, today, as pure as the day you were Baptized!
A Special Promise of Mercy:
Our Lord promised to grant complete forgiveness of sins and punishment on the Feast of Mercy as recorded in the Diary of St. Faustina:
I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy (Diary 1109).
My great delight is to unite Myself with souls...when I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay any attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things. Oh, how sad I am that souls do not recognize Love! They treat Me as a dead object (Diary 1385, 1288).
Divine Mercy Sunday was instituted by Blessed John Paul II in the year 2000 at the canonization of Sister Faustina on April 30, 2000. It is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.”
To borrow a rhetorical style from Fr. Z, “But, Father! But Father! If Jesus said it, isn’t that good enough?!”
The short answer is a resounding “No!” Here’s the thing. The Church has canonized Sr. Faustina Kowalska. As far as we are concerned, she is said to be most certainly in heaven, by virtue of the merits of her holy life and two posthumous miracles attributed to her intercession. But the contents of her Diary—even if it was held in great esteem by a Pope—are not considered to be infallible, nor (to my knowledge) have they been declared to be authentic. If they have, it still doesn’t change the argument made here:
Public revelation is what we have in Scripture and Tradition. It was completed, finished, when the last Apostle died and the New Testament was finished. So there is no more until Christ returns at the end. In this area the Church has His promise of providential protection in teaching.Even though there is no new public revelation, the Church can progress in deepened understanding of the original deposit of faith--thus the Immaculate Conception, for example, was not mentioned in the first centuries, was even denied by many in Middle Ages, but could be defined in 1854. This progress is the result of the growing light of the Holy Spirit. At the Last Supper Jesus promised Him to lead the Church into all truth.
Private Revelation is all else. The word private is poor, but usual. Even Fatima, addressed to the world, is private. But there is a great difference. The Church does not have the providential protection in matters of private revelation. Ordinarily the decision of the local Bishop is final on authenticity of a revelation. Yet we would not have to believe any decision on private revelation--though we must obey a command, if a Bishop gives such, not to go to the place of a an alleged revelation. In obeying, we do not lose any graces. Christ saved the world by obedience--cf. Rom. 5:19. St. Margaret Mary says He told her: "Not only do I desire that you should do what your Superior commands, but also that youshould do nothing of all that I order without their consent. I love obedience, and without it no one can please me."
The most the Church can do on a private revelation is: 1) say it does not clash with public revelation. If it did, that part of it would be out. 2) Say it seems to deserve human acceptance--that is in contrast to something accepted on the divine virtue of faith, which comes into play only in the area of public revelation. (Taken from EWTN)
So, what’s the point of all this? My point is that there is a great deal of misinformation going around about the nature of Divine Mercy Sunday. Despite what flyers and popular piety and devotion, and even pastors of souls, are saying, THERE IS NO PLENARY INDULGENCE GRANTED FOR ATTENDING MASS ON DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY. Period. End of Discussion. That’s all she wrote.
Now, how do we know this? Because the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum (the handbook of Indulgences), last promulgated in 2004, states very clearly the following:
First of all, “Participation in the Sacrifice of the Mass and in the Sacraments is not, according to tradition, enriched with indulgences; for, in and of themselves, they hold a very high (praecelsam) efficacy as far as sanctification and purification goes” (Praenotanda, 3).
Second, that same Enchiridion Indulgentiarum lists in its index all of the specific liturgical days and feasts on which some form of indulgence is granted. These days include participation in the Solemn Easter Vigil, the Solemnity of Pentecost, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Week for Christian Unity, et al. But it does not concede any form of indulgence for the Second Sunday of Easter, aka Low Sunday, aka Dominica in Albis, aka Divine Mercy Sunday. And if it has not been granted by the Church, then there exists no guarantee of the conferral of the promised grace.
So, I hate to be the party pooper here. But this "indulgence for attending Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday" does not exist!
Now, before people go all apesnot over this entry, a few things: I am not discouraging devotion to the Divine Mercy of Our Lord, nor to St. Faustina and her writings. I am not saying you don’t have to come to Mass this Sunday, since you’re not “getting something extra.” Truth be told, I love the Divine Mercy Chaplet—I think it’s a wonderful devotion. But no nun—not matter how holy or influential, or how authentic we may believe her visions of Christ to be—has the authority to grant the full remission of all temporal punishment due to the effects of sin! Sorry...no can do!
All this having been said, THERE IS THIS:
“a plenary indulgence, granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, 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 honour of Divine Mercy, or who, 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!");
A partial indulgence, granted to the faithful who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus a legitimately approved invocation.” (Granted June 29, 2002)
So, before I get people freaking out all over the place, let’s get our facts straight about the Divine Mercy devotion, Divine Mercy Sunday, and everything else that seems to have been thrown into the mix.
To everyone out there, have a very blessed Second Sunday of Easter (or Of Divine Mercy)!