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Divine Mercy images to travel

Posted By April 12, 2012 | 5:32 pm | Local
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By Patricia O’Connell
CFP Correspondent

ATHOL – Divine Mercy Sunday will be celebrated in the North Quabbin Catholic Community in a way it never has before.
This weekend, at each of the four cluster churches, framed copies of the Divine Mercy image will begin week-long stays at the homes of parishioners.
This devotion is based on private revelations to Saint Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who died in 1938. In recent years, the Divine Mercy message has spread throughout the world.
In 2000 Pope John Paul II instituted Divine Mercy Sunday in the universal Church. Each year, Catholics may receive a plenary indulgence if they fulfill certain conditions and remain free from all attachment to sin.
Father Krzysztof Korcz, associate pastor, said the people hosting the image will receive a special blessing at Mass, and they will also be part of the procession after Mass.
His homily that day will focus on the mercy of Jesus and the ability to receive this gift in the sacrament of reconciliation.
“The most blessed condition is the forgiveness that God offers in Jesus Christ,” Father Korcz will tell parishioners.  “Sin enslaves us and confession heals and restores us. Jesus is ready to free us from anything that binds us and keeps us from God.”
“Satan is very happy when people stop confessing their sins, attending Sunday Mass and receiving Holy Communion. He doesn’t have power to tempt people who confess their sins,’’ says Father Korcz in his prepared homily. “We know that our Lord is merciful and in his goodness allows us to go to confession and receive Holy Communion whenever we need. These sacraments help us to be free of demons. We should confess our sins, not accumulate them.  Jesus knows that these sacraments can help us to keep Satan at a distance.”
Traveling, or “pilgrim,” images and statutes are very popular in Father Korcz’s native Poland. Typically, he noted, when people bring one of these holy items into their homes, they invite family and friends and often the parish priests to visit and pray with them. Refreshments are usually served afterward.
“Every parish there (in Poland) has this program after a while,” said Father Korcz. “It is very helpful for priests to bring people to God and unite them together. During this pilgrimage many families invite priests to pray with them and ask for the blessing.”
Now, he is hoping this tradition catches hold in Athol and Petersham.
Preparation for the local pilgrim image has been long in the making, said Father Korcz.
The Divine Mercy chaplet is recited before all Masses in the North Quabbin cluster, which includes Our Lady Immaculate and St. Francis in Athol, as well as St. Peter’s in Petersham and Our Lady Queen of Heaven chapel in Royalston.
Short articles explaining the meaning and message of Divine Mercy have been placed in the bulletin.
One, from a few weeks ago, was titled the “Divine Mercy Message about Corporal Works of Mercy.” It read in part: “As we journey through Lent we see Jesus reaching out to people who need his mercy. Last week Jesus taught us how to share the Corporal Works of Mercy in our daily lives. Today, he heals the blind man and shows us the power of his mercy. Jesus wants us to do for others what he did for the blind man. We should be an apostle of Mercy, and give them love, hope and compassion. We should pray for them. One of the beautiful prayers about mercy is the Divine Mercy Chaplet.”
On a recent afternoon at St. Francis, looking at the sign-up sheet for the traveling Divine Mercy image, it was clear many people from that parish would be participating.
One of them is Peg Morin.
She will take the picture of Jesus home the last week in June, and she plans to put it in her living room.
Mrs. Morin said the Divine Mercy devotion has taken firm root in Athol. The sign-up sheet is already filled for June and families will soon be planning to host the image over the summer.
She said she prays the Divine Mercy Chaplet daily. “Of course, everyday,” she said. “I wouldn’t go to sleep at night unless I do it.”
PHOTO: Father Krzysztof Korcz, associate pastor, displays Divine Mercy image.