By Tanya Connor | The Catholic Free Press
The Divine Mercy message and devotion and a national shrine dedicated to spreading them.
The Year of Mercy.
The pope and the bishop.
These were important to people who joined the Worcester Diocese’s pilgrimage to the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge Aug. 19.
Father Richard F. Reidy, vicar general, who helped coordinate this pilgrimage for Bishop McManus, said 104 people registered and there were some cancelations and walk-ins. Two buses took pilgrims and Father Reidy said at least 30 other pilgrims met them at the shrine.
Bishop McManus said the pilgrimage was a response on the Diocese’s part to Pope Francis’ invitation to reflect on God’s mercy during this Year of Mercy.
“We’ve got a great pope,” said Michael Cove, of St. Patrick Parish in Rutland; it’s because of him that activities like this pilgrimage are happening. He said the pilgrimage was special to him; it was his first time at the shrine and it was during the Year of Mercy.
“I very much enjoyed the Stations (of the Cross) with the bishop,” he said.
“It was a very holy place and I was grateful the bishop made it a diocesan event,” said his fellow-parishioner Cynthia Katinas, visiting the shrine for about the fourth time.
“I hope to generate devotion to Divine Mercy,” she said. “I really believe time’s running out. I’m always praying for the conversion of hearts and the salvation of souls.”
Participating in this pilgrimage was one way for people to learn about the message of Divine Mercy and make the devotion their own, she said. Then they can be transformed by God’s love and spread it to others.
The message and devotion to Jesus as the Divine Mercy is based on revelations the Polish nun St. Faustina Kowalska recorded in her “Diary,” says the website www.thedivinemercy.org. It says the devotion began spreading before her death in 1938.
The ABCs of the message are to Ask for God’s mercy, Be merciful and Completely trust in Jesus, receiving more mercy the more one trusts, the website says.
The devotion includes veneration of the image of Jesus as he appeared to Sister Faustina, with the words, “Jesus, I trust in you.” He raises a hand in blessing. From his chest flow red and pale rays, symbolic of the Eucharist and baptism. St. Faustina’s “Diary” says Jesus promised that the soul that venerates this image will not perish and will have victory over enemies.
The devotion also includes Divine Mercy Sunday, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena, and prayer at the 3 p.m. hour of mercy.
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Judy Pickett, of St. George Parish in Worcester, said she prays the chaplet daily and has wanted to visit the shrine for a long time.
Pilgrims from St. Mary of the Hills Parish in Boylston rejoiced that the chaplet is sung at their parish at 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month from September to June.
Pilgrims joined in praying the chaplet and rosary and had the opportunity for adoration, confession and touring the shrine. They attended Mass and Stations of the Cross that Bishop McManus and diocesan clergy celebrated and led.
In his homily Bishop McManus told them it was because of mercy that they had been given another day to live, to know, love and serve God more authentically.
He spoke of the blood and water flowing from the crucified Christ as the basis of the Church’s sacramental life, which includes baptism and the Eucharist. Through the sacraments people are innundated with Divine Mercy, he said.
Marie Case, of St. Patrick’s in Rutland, said the worship had so much dignity, and, though there were so many people, they were very respectful.
“It’s like heaven on earth; it’s so quiet and it’s just so peaceful,” Michael Mitchell, of Immaculate Conception Parish in Worcester, said of the shrine. He said this was his second visit there. “We’re really lucky in Massachusetts to have the National Shrine of Divine Mercy,” mused Shelly Keane, of St. John, Guardian of Our Lady Parish in Clinton. “Why wouldn’t you go, because it’s right here in our backyard?”
She said it was “moving” to walk through the shrine’s Year of Mercy Holy Door, and mentioned the indulgeance that one can get for doing that and meeting other conditions. She also spoke of the opportunity to venerate a relic of St. Faustina.
Elizabeth Sansoucy, of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Barre, called the pilgrimage a wonderful time of connecting with God.
“I took a vacation day so I could do this,” she said. “It was well worth it.… Not everybody wants to talk about God at work.” So it was good to be with people of faith at the shrine.
“There’s always something very special about receiving Communion from the bishop,” she said. “That means a lot that he takes time out of his hectic schedule to be with us.”
“It was a great place to be with old friends and meet new friends and to celebrate the Year of Mercy,” said Nina Tsantinis, who attends St. John Parish in Worcester.
Millie Potenti, of St. John’s in Clinton, expressed appreciation for “all the beautiful, holy people.”
Father Reidy said, “We’re just grateful to God for a good day and pray that the graces of the day will bear fruit in their lives and in the Diocese.”