.- Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota is urging faithful in his diocese to pray the Novena of Divine Mercy in order to build faithful priestly vocations and bring healing to victims of the Church’s massive sexual abuse scandal.
Bishop Aquila asked that the Novena--a nine day prayer said for specific intentions--begin on Good Friday so that it could end on Divine Mercy Sunday, traditionally celebrated each year on the Sunday following Easter.
The Divine Mercy feast, which has heavily Polish origins, was instituted by Pope John Paul II to increase devotion to the Mercy of Christ.
In his announcement, issued on Palm Sunday, the bishop said that “God desires for each of us to live with him eternally. Thus, he offered us Jesus and, through Jesus, his Divine Mercy is made present.”
“Mercy is the goodness, compassion, faithfulness and love of God revealed in Sacred Scripture”, he went on, “Despite man’s constant sin and unfaithfulness, God remains faithful and loving toward his creatures.”
Likewise, he pointed out that “We see this mercy most especially revealed in the parable of the prodigal son. The love of the Father waits for each one of us to return to his complete cleansing and healing forgiveness.”
Bishop Aquila specifically asked that members of the diocese pray “For holy vocations to the priesthood for the Diocese of Fargo – that men will hear God’s call and make themselves a total self gift to the Father, imitating Jesus Christ in serving his people.”
He also asked that they pray “For reparation for the sins of the clergy – that clergy realize the depth of the pain sin causes and seek forgiveness from those they offend, from the Church, and from God,” and “For victims of sexual abuse – that they may turn with confidence to the mercy of God to be comforted, healed and strengthened.”