Sunday, April 7, is Easter II, Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday in the Easter season (Year C, Cycle I).
April 7 is Divine Mercy Sunday. Even before this Sunday was given that designation by Blessed John Paul II, this Sunday’s readings were all about mercy. “His mercy endures forever,” says the Psalm. The first reading is about God healing his people physically through the Church; the second reading is about the spiritual healing we will find in heaven. The Gospel shares how Jesus gave the apostles the power of the sacrament of reconciliation. Make sure and visit EWTN.com/devotionals/mercy/ to see the details of how to celebrate the day and receive the Divine Mercy indulgence.
April 8 is the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. This solemnity commemorates the incarnation of Our Lord in Mary’s womb, conceived by the Holy Spirit. The Annunciation is usually celebrated on March 25 — exactly nine months before Christmas. But this year, because March 25 fell in Holy Week, and the following Monday was Easter Monday — an Octave day of Easter — the feast was moved. But don’t worry: The Church doesn’t intend to move Christmas to nine months after April 8 to accommodate the change. Jesus will be two weeks “premature” this year.
Acts 5:12-16; Psalms 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; Revelation 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19; John 20:19-31
You gave up something for Lent: What will you add for Easter?
Last week we stressed that Lent doesn’t just end a penitential season centered on Christ's suffering — it begins a joyful Easter season centered on Christ risen.
So when we say, “What will you add for Easter?” we don’t mean anything about fasting. The time for special fasting is over. What we mean is: How will this Easter season change you?
Here are some suggestions.
1. Add a Sunday Celebration. We have just celebrated Easter Day for eight days in a row; such is the Easter Octave. Think of it as a long celebratory counterpoint to Ash Wednesday. Just as the Ash Wednesday fast is followed by lesser fasting, why not follow the Easter Octave celebration with lesser celebrating?
How about a special Sunday morning breakfast each week? Or ice cream after Mass. Or a family Sunday outing. Maybe a special Easter season daily dessert. Connect it to the Easter season to drive the point home.
2. Add an Encounter With Jesus. Presumably, we have all grown in self-knowledge during Lent. We have learned what sacrifices irk us and which ones are no big deal. We have learned how committed we are to Jesus Christ and how far we have to go.
Why not add a way to grow in our knowledge of Jesus? Maybe try a “Catholic movie night.” We did this, picking one night a week to watch one of the movies from the Register’s “Top 100 Pro-Catholic Movies” list. Or add spiritual reading to your week. Read a chapter a night to help reorient your priorities. A last idea: Sign the kids up for a Catholic summer camp. There are some great options available, but they are filling up fast (we know, because we spent the last week signing up our children).
3. Add an Invitation. Especially this Lent, we have learned that we have a lot to be grateful for in the Catholic Church. We experienced the resignation of a pope, the election of a new one and all of the excitement that this brought.
Now it is time to widen the circle. Often, there are people in our lives who have slipped out of practice of their Catholic faith but would return if only someone invited them. Make it a point to invite someone new to Mass each Sunday during the Easter season — or perhaps each month. Follow it up with brunch or lunch.
Share the joy of faith with those around you.
Spring forth into Easter — and a new life in Christ.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.