The Pope’s words
came prior to praying the Regina Coeli, which replaces the traditional
Angelus prayer during the season of Easter. He used the opportunity to
praise the late John Paul II, who both initiated the yearly Divine
Mercy celebration and died on its occasion one year ago.
his address to the crowd by quoting the Gospel of John, which recounts
Jesus' appearance to His disciples gathered in the Upper Room on the
evening of the "first day of the week" and then again "eight days
"From the very
beginning,” the Holy Father said, “the Christian community began to
live according to a weekly rhythm marked by the meeting with the Risen
He pointed out
that this rhythm is underlined by the Vatican Council II Constitution
"Sacrosanctum Concilium", which says, "By a tradition handed down from
the apostles which took its origin from the very day of Christ's
resurrection, the Church celebrates the Paschal mystery every eighth
day; with good reason this, then, bears the name of the Lord's day or
went on to say that the wounds which Christ showed the apostles on both
of the recorded occasions "are an inexhaustible fount of faith, hope
and love from which everyone can draw, especially the souls that most
thirst for divine mercy."
recalled his predecessor John Paul II, who "wished the Sunday after
Easter to be particularly dedicated to Divine Mercy; and Providence
ordained that he himself should die on the eve of that day."
added that "The mystery of God's merciful love lay at the center of the
pontificate of my venerated predecessor. We particularly recall his
1980 Encyclical 'Dives in misericordia' and his dedication of the new
Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland in 2002.”
“The words he
pronounced on that occasion”, Benedict mused, “were like a summary of
his entire Magisterium, highlighting how the cult of divine mercy is no
secondary form of devotion, but an integral dimension of a Christian's
faith and prayer."
concluded his Sunday address by calling on "Most Holy Mary, Mother of
the Church ... to enable all Christians fully to experience Sunday as
'the Easter of the week,' savoring the beauty of the encounter with the
Risen Lord and drawing from the fount of His merciful love in order to
be apostles of His peace."
He also recalled
that Sunday was the first day of Easter for the world’s Eastern
Christians. "In the festive climate of this day," he said, "I cannot
fail to recall that many of these people - in Serbia, Romania, and
Bulgaria - are suffering because of the flooding of recent days.”
He assured them
of his closeness to them “in prayer” and expressed his “heartfelt hope
that, with a contribution from everyone, they may soon overcome these
50,000 people gathered a the Vatican yesterday for the celebration of
Divine Mercy Sunday, which Pope Benedict called an integral dimension
to the faith and prayer life of all Christians.