Divine Mercy Drive-Ins and Drive-Thrus This Past Sunday
Across the country, Catholic laity and priests found creative ways to gather safely to celebrate the Divine Mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Divine Mercy had a drive-in this past Sunday. As Catholics across the U.S. cannot “dine in” at the Eucharistic Feast, some parishes have opted to provide “take out” of God’s love in the form of holy hours and blessings in church parking lots.
At St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Clayton, North Carolina, around 250 vehicles arrived by 3 p.m., the hour of mercy, for a “Divine Mercy Drive-In Holy Hour.”
Organizers told the Register that the Catholic liturgy was literally proclaimed from the rooftop – in both Spanish and English – from St. Ann’s parish Learning Center so all could see and hear. The faithful stayed in their cars as instructed, as the holy hour proceeded, which included the singing of hymns and a Liturgy of the Word. Two Passionist priests, Father Peter Grace and Father Hector Rangel Galván, delivered reflections respectively in English and Spanish.
During the bilingual singing of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Father Philip Johnson brought the Blessed Sacrament in procession throughout the parking lot, passing by the vehicles in attendance.
“Emotions ran high and many of the faithful burst into tears as Jesus passed by their families,” organizers told the Register via email.
The holy hour ended with solemn benediction, and after the Blessed Sacrament was returned to the Tabernacle, the faithful were invited to “honk their horns in praise of the Risen Jesus who has walked among us.”
Organizers said an “emotional chorus of car horns” filled the air and showed “the immense gratitude that the people felt to have been back to St. Ann’s and close to their Eucharistic Lord.”
One of the priests who participated in the event, Father Ian VanHeusen, told the Register that the event was an important reminder that life must be preserved, “but not at the expense of our salvation and the love of our neighbor.”
“Aside from actually getting COVID-19, the next biggest danger I see to people’s physical and spiritual health is isolation,” he said, underscoring the heavy toll it can take on a human person and the will to live. “While I believe we should be prudent and follow government guidelines, there comes a point where preserving our lives puts our mental health and our immortal soul in danger.”
He said, “What good is it if we preserve life but destroy the very reasons that we have for living?”
Even though public Mass in the church is not available, the creative upswelling of Catholic life under COVID-19 lockdown is happening in other places across the country led by priests and lay people.
National Catholic Register staff writer Joe Pronechen also relayed the joy of having Drive-In Divine Mercy Holy Hour at St. Theresa’s Parish in Trumbull, Connecticut.
“Our pastor had holy hour with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Gospel reading, sermon on Divine Mercy, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Benediction,” he said, explaining they all stayed in their cars. “We were able to hear every word on our car radio, because someone connected the mike, etc. to an unused FM station!”
The event was also livestreamed. After welcoming the congregation in the parking lot from the rooftop of St. Theresa’s, Father Brian Gannon quipped at the start of the holy hour, “In the words of one of our Sons of St. Joseph: this is 90.1 FM, your station for salvation.”
Pamela Weaver of Piedmont, South Dakota, also shared with the Register that their Polish priest, Father Andrzej Wyrostek at Our Lady of the Black Hills in Piedmont, held a “drive-through blessing” on Divine Mercy Sunday.
Weaver explained the priest, “held up a relic of St. John Paul II for our veneration (from our cars of course), and said a blessing over us in Polish.”
“As daily communicants, our family misses Mass terribly,” she said. “We also miss our church family and so each time our pastor reaches out to us in creative ways we feel more connected to the Body of Christ.”
“We will cling to God more tightly in the ways that we still can — in our prayers throughout the day, in our devotion and in our love for Him.”
What even this simple gesture meant to the faithful on Divine Mercy Sunday could be seen in the line of cars that extended from the parking lot and down the highway.
- divine mercy