Speaking from the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI announced today that he will preside over Mass in memory of John Paul II, who died three years ago on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday. The Mass this Wednesday will open the First World Congress on Apostolic Divine Mercy in Rome.
Before praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father spoke about the significance of Divine Mercy Sunday.
Pope Benedict recalled that John Paul II designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday, and did so at the same time Sister Faustina Kowalska was canonized. The Polish sister, who died in 1938, is known as the messenger of God's Mercy, since it was through her diary that the message of mercy came to be known to the world, even before it was approved by the Holy See.
Speaking to thousands of pilgrims at Castel Gondolfo and in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict said, "Mercy is in reality the core of the Gospel message; it is the name of God himself, the face with which he reveals himself in the Old Testament and fully in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of creative and redemptive Love.”
“This love of mercy also illuminates the face of the Church, and is manifested through the sacraments, in particular that of reconciliation, as well as in works of charity, both of community and individuals,” said the Holy Father.
“Everything that the Church says and does,” continued the Pope, “shows that God has mercy for man. When the Church must call attention to an unrecognized truth, or a good betrayed, it is always driven by merciful love that all people might have life and have it abundantly (cf. Jn 10.10). From divine mercy comes hearts that are pacified, and then comes true peace in the world, peace between peoples, cultures and religions.”
“Like Sister Faustina, Pope John Paul II was in his time an apostle of Divine Mercy,” Benedict XVI noted. “Many noticed the remarkable coincidence that when he closed his eyes to this world on the evening of Saturday, April 2, 2005, it was on the eve of the second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, and also at the same time as the Marian devotion of the first Saturday of the month. In fact, this was at the core of his long and multifaceted pontificate; his entire mission in the service of God and man and peace in the world was summarized in the announcement he made in Krakow in 2002.”
Pope Benedict recalled the ceremony in Krakow where John Paul II inaugurated the great Shrine of Divine Mercy and said: “'Outside the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for human beings.' His message, like Saint Faustina's, leads back to the face of Christ, the supreme revelation of God's mercy. Constantly contemplating that face: this is the legacy that he has left us, which we welcome with joy and make our own,” the Pope said.
After reciting the Regina Caeli, Pope Benedict greeted pilgrims in Italian, German, French, Spanish and English. He also greeted in a special way Polish pilgrims from the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow- Łagiewniki.
Before imparting his apostolic blessing, he reminded pilgrims that this Sunday's Gospel calls us to recognize through the gift of faith the presence of the Risen Lord in the Church, and that we receive from him the gift of the Holy Spirit.
"During this Easter season, he said, "may we strengthen our desire to bear witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ calling us to a life of peace and joy. Upon each of you present and your families, I invoke God's blessings of happiness and wisdom."