Pope John Paul II often reminded us of the loss of a sense of sin and the need for a return to the practice of frequent confession.

The moral relativism that is causing much of this loss of a sense of sin in our world has also been characterized by our current Pope, Benedict XVI, as perhaps the major evil facing the Catholic Church today.

The word “epidemic” is described by Webster’s as “affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community or region at the same time,” and “excessively prevalent.”

The word “epidemic” would seem to be the very best way to describe the crisis in the Church today.

We know that only about 25% of Catholics attend Sunday Mass every week. The Church teaches that it is grave matter to miss Mass on Sundays without a good reason. If it’s done knowingly and deliberately, it’s a mortal sin that must be confessed.

A survey done in a parish in Florida revealed that only about 10% of regular church goers actually confess every year or whenever conscious of serious sin as required by one of the precepts of the Church.

Are most other parishes any better?

This crisis is unprecedented in Catholic history and we need an immediate cure.

Epidemics often leave behind many dead bodies. This epidemic is much worse because it leaves behind a death, not of the body, but of the soul, and it is eternal.

Yet few seem to be alarmed at the epidemic, including many clergy who seem to be apathetic. Here again let’s look at Webster’s for the meaning of “apathy”: “lack of enthusiasm or energy: lack of interest in anything, or the absence of any wish to do anything” and “emotional emptiness: inability to feel normal or passionate human feelings or to respond emotionally.”

This epidemic is worse than most, because one of its symptoms is the lack of interest in addressing the epidemic.

All the same, we have been given the complete cure, and all that remains is for us to put it into action and tell everyone about it.

Given the cure? Yes. Surprised? Not me.

Didn’t St. Paul tell us that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more?

And grace abounds a great deal on Divine Mercy Sunday.

If your parish hasn’t been celebrating it, then something is wrong! This new feast of mercy is God’s gift to us to completely renew and revitalize our Church. If you think that this feast of mercy is a party for devotees, you have it all wrong.

Jesus clearly indicated that the feast of mercy is a refuge and shelter especially for all sinners, and especially even the worst ones of all.

Why was St. Faustina asked to promote the feast in her apparitions of Jesus?

Why did Pope John Paul II make it such a priority?

Why has Pope Benedict XVI spoken so often about it?

Because it is a key answer to our Church’s key problem of the loss of the sense of sin.

Why is this feast placed on the Second Sunday of Easter?

I think it must be to encourage all the Easter-only and lukewarm Catholics back to the practice of their faith.

Just think about it. The Divine Mercy indulgence that the Vatican has granted, with its promise for the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment, is just the enticement these lukewarm souls need to get to them to go to confession. We know that on Easter most churches are full to overflowing with souls that are in danger of dying in mortal sin and they need a lot of encouragement from the clergy.

One of the most important things we can do for them is to tell them about the plenary indulgence. The Vatican has asked that priests get this done “in the most suitable manner.”

What could possibly be more suitable, then, on Easter Sunday itself when the churches are full of people who haven’t been to confession and to church in so long?

The epidemic is sin, and, let’s face it, the cure is confession.

The enticement is the promise of the total forgiveness of sins and punishment.

If Divine Mercy Sunday immediately follows Easter, then why aren’t we inviting everyone to the feast, especially all those Easter-only Catholics while they are sitting there in the pews? What an awesome God we have to give us exactly what we need to restore his Church. We only need to wake up.

Proclaim the Good News, tell everyone about Divine Mercy Sunday. Let the world know. Put it in the newspapers, radio and TV. Make every possible effort to reach everyone.

Make Jesus happy and take away some of his pain.

Jesus told St. Faustina that the loss of each soul plunges him into mortal sadness. If we really love him, we will do everything that we possibly can to help him save souls.

Robert R. Allard is

founder and director

of Apostles of Divine Mercy.