Commencement Address to the Graduating Class of 2024 at Thomas Aquinas College

The Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary: May We “Imitate What They Contain and Obtain What They Promise”

Divine Mercy Sunday Reflection

Synodality versus True Identity of the Church as Hierarchical Communion

Notification to Christ’s Faithful (can. 212 § 3) Regarding Dubia Submitted to Pope Francis

Appeal for Prayer for the Armenian People

Discipline and Doctrine: Law in the Service of Truth and Love

Message to the Faithful Priests of the Church in Germany

Death of Cardinal George Pell

Death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Purity of Heart and the Holy Family

Advent and the Door of our Hearts

The Exaltation of the Cross

Purity of Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha’s Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Purity of Heart and the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Mary the Mirror of Justice

Purity of Heart

Advent and Apocalypse

Christ and the Church: Triumphant, Suffering and Militant

Presentation list

Divine Mercy Sunday Reflection

Divine Mercy Sunday

La Crosse Deanery

Church of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

La Crosse, Wisconsin

7 April 2024


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The truth of God’s all-merciful love is so often unknown or forgotten in our totally secularized society. How many have given up hope because they struggle with suffering and sin in their personal lives and in our world! To help us know His all-merciful love, Our Lord appeared to Sister Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska in Poland in the 1930s, a most bleak time in the history of the world, a time marked by intense suffering, including the worst suffering of all, that is, the loss of faith in God and trust in His Divine Providence.

Regarding the time of the private revelation to Saint Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, Pope Saint John Paul II observed:

By divine Providence, the life of this humble daughter of Poland was completely linked with the history of the 20th century, the century we have just left behind. In fact, it was between the First and Second World Wars that Christ entrusted His message of mercy to her. Those who remember, who were witnesses and participants in the events of those years and the horrible sufferings they caused for millions of people, know well how necessary was the message of mercy.[1]

Pope Saint John Paul II became, in fact, the great Apostle of the Message of Divine Mercy, revealed to Sister Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska for our time. He understood that the answer to the great evils which we face in society today, because of the forgetfulness of God and the hostility to the law which he has written upon our hearts, is Divine Mercy, Divine Mercy Incarnate, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, in his homily for the Mass of Christian Burial of Pope Saint John Paul II, referring to the saintly Pope’s last book, declared:

He interpreted for us the Paschal Mystery as a mystery of Divine Mercy. In his last book, he wrote: The limit imposed upon evil “is ultimately Divine Mercy” (Memory and Identity, p. 55).[2]

In his Encyclical Letter, “On Divine Mercy,” Dives in Misericordia, Pope John Paul II taught the inseparable relationship between divine justice and divine mercy, noting that, when man is truly repentant for his sins, God always surpasses the requirements of His justice with His infinite mercy. Regarding divine mercy, he wrote: “On the part of man only a lack of good will can limit it, a lack of readiness to be converted and to repent, in other words persistence in obstinacy, opposing grace and truth.”[3] He furthered explained that this is why “[i]n no passage of the Gospel message does forgiveness, or mercy as its source, mean indulgence towards evil, towards scandals, towards injury or insult.”[4]

In accord with the desire expressed by Our Lord to Sister Maria Faustina, Pope John Paul II, on the Second Sunday of Easter during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the day of the canonization of Saint Maria Faustina, proclaimed the Second Sunday of Easter, which we celebrate today, Divine Mercy Sunday for the universal Church.[5] As you may recall, the last Mass at which Pope John Paul II assisted, on the night he died, was the Saturday evening Mass of Anticipation of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005. In Pope John Paul II’s last address, written for the pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Regina Caeli on the day after his death, he prayed: “Lord, Who reveal the Father’s love by your Death and Resurrection, we believe in You and confidently repeat to You today: Jesus, I trust in You, have mercy upon us and upon the whole world.”[6]

In Our Risen Lord’s apparitions to Saint Faustina, He, Divine Mercy Incarnate, showed Himself, in His glorious Body, with two rays of light emanating from His pierced Heart. Beneath the image is the signature which is a prayer: “Jesus, I trust in You.”[7] It is the image displayed in the sanctuary today for our devotion. The two rays of light are red and white, recalling the blood and water which flowed from the Heart of our Savior, pierced by the spear of the Roman soldier after Our Lord had died on the Cross for our salvation. The rays of light symbolize the unceasing flow of grace from the glorious-pierced Heart of Jesus into our souls, especially through the Sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.

To address the lack of faith in Saint Thomas the Apostle, Our Risen Lord appeared to the Apostles and invited Saint Thomas to put his finger into the glorious wounds of Our Lord’s Hands and to put his hand into Our Lord’s glorious-pierced Side. Before the glorious wounds of Our Lord’s Passion and Death, Saint Thomas exclaimed: “My Lord and My God!”[8] So, before the lack of faith in our time, Our Risen Lord appeared to Sister Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, showing to her His glorious wounds, especially His wounded Side, and inviting her to pray: “Jesus, I trust in You.”[9]

Today, no less, before the temptation to doubt’s God’s merciful love in our lives, Our Lord shows us His glorious-pierced Heart, His glorious-pierced Side, from which flows the abundance of His all-merciful love into our souls. Let us listen, for a moment, to words of Pope Saint John Paul II:

However, as the Apostles once did, today too humanity must welcome into the upper room of history the Risen Christ, Who shows the wounds of His Crucifixion and repeats: Peace be with you! Humanity must let itself be touched and pervaded by the Spirit given to it by the Risen Christ. It is the Spirit Who heals the wounds of the heart, pulls down the barriers that separate us from God and divide us from one another, and, at the same time, restores the joy of the Father’s love and of fraternal unity.[10]

Once we have looked upon the glorious-pierced Heart of Jesus, once we have looked upon the image of the Divine Mercy, how can we doubt how much God loves us, how God loves us unconditionally and “to the end!”[11] Once we have known the mystery of God’s immeasurable love in our hearts, how can we fail to be messengers of Divine Mercy to our brothers and sisters, especially to those who suffer and have lost hope.

Our mission is not easy. It is not easy to love with divine love. But we can do it, because the Holy Spirit is dwelling within us, drawing us to Christ, so that we may live in Christ always, loving as He loves. With the Holy Spirit as our Helper and Guide, we know the all-merciful love of God toward us and we overcome whatever divides us from one another, loving one another as Christ loves us. Regarding our challenge, Pope John Paul II observed:

It is not easy to love with a deep love, which lies in the authentic gift of self. This love can only be learned by penetrating the mystery of God’s love. Looking at Him, being one with His fatherly Heart, we are able to look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters, with an attitude of unselfishness and solidarity, of generosity and forgiveness. All this is mercy![12]

Let us, with the Blessed Virgin Mary, with her beloved daughter Sister Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, and with her beloved son Pope Saint John Paul II, place our hearts into the glorious-pierced Heart of Jesus, receiving there lasting healing and strength. With our Blessed Mother, Sister Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, and Pope Saint John Paul II, let us be apostles of Divine Mercy, bringing the healing and strength of God’s merciful love from the Heart of Jesus to all our brothers and sisters.

Our Lord Jesus, Divine Mercy Incarnate, dwells with us always in the Church. May our minds and hearts be filled with the knowledge and love of God’s mercy in our lives, especially in the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist. Before the great mystery of our faith, may we exclaim with Saint Thomas the Apostle: “My Lord and my God!”[13] May we pray with Sister Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, “Jesus, I trust in You.”[14] May we pray with Pope Saint John Paul II: “Jesus, I trust in You! Have mercy on us and on the whole world.”[15]

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE

[1] “Dalla divina Provvidenza la vita di questa umile figlia della Polonia è stata completamente legata alla storia del ventesimo secolo, il secolo che ci siamo appena lasciati alle spalle. È, infatti, tra la prima e la seconda guerra mondiale che Cristo le ha affidato il suo messaggio di misericordia. Coloro che ricordano, che furono testimoni e partecipi degli eventi di quegli anni e delle orribili sofferenze che ne derivarono per milioni di uomini, sanno bene quanto il messaggio della misericordia fosse necessario.” Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Homilia “In canonizatione beatae Faustinae Kowalska,” 30 Aprilis 2000, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 92 (2000), 671, n. 2. [Homilia]. English translation: Pope John Paul II, Homily, “Sr Faustina: God’s gift to our time,” 30 April 2000, L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 3 May 2000, p. 1, no. 2. [HomiliaEng].

[2] “Egli ha interpretato per noi il mistero pasquale come mistero della divina misericordia. Scrive nel suo ultimo libro: Il limite imposto al male «è in definitiva la divina misericordia» (Memoria e identità, pag. 70). “Missa Exsequialis,” Acta Apostolicae Sedis 97 (2005), 474. English translation: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Homily, “Funeral Mass of Pope John Paul II,” 8 April 2005, L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 13 April 2005, p. 3.

[3] “In homine tamen circumscribere eam potest sola deficiens bona voluntas, nulla videlicet conversionis ac paenitentiae voluntas, id est perseverantia in obstinatione ac repugnantia tum gratiae tum veritati.” Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Litterae Encyclicae Dives in Misericordia, “De Divina Misericordia,” 30 Novembris 1980, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 72 (1980), 1220, n. 13. [DM]. English translation: Pope John Paul II, Encyclicals (Trivandrum, India: Carmel International Publishing House, 2005), p. 1048, no. 13. [DMEng].

[4] “Nullus prorsus Evangelici nuntii loco venia – neque fons quidem eius misericordia – significat indulgentiam in malum, in scandalum, in iniuriam aut contumeliam inflictam.” DM, 1226-1227, n. 14. English translation: DMEng, p. 1054, no. 14.

[5] Cf. Homilia, p. 672, n. 4). English translation: HomiliaEng, p. 1, no. 4.

[6] “Signore, che con la tua morte e risurrezione riveli l’amore del Padre, noi crediamo in Te e con fiducia ti ripetiamo quest’oggi: Gesù, confido in Te, abbi misericordia di noi e del mondo intero.” “Extrema aegrotatio, obitus, funebria,” Acta Apostolicae Sedis 97 (2005), 462, n. 2. [Extrema Aegrotatio]. English translation: Pope John Paul II, “The ‘last gift’ of the Pope for Divine Mercy Sunday,” 3 April 2005, L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 6 April 2005, p. 1, n. 2. [Extrema AegrotatioEng].

[7] Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, 3rd revised ed. (Stockbridge, MA: Marians of the Immaculate Conception, 2001), p. 24, no. 47. [Diary].

[8] Jn 20, 28.

[9] Diary, p. 24, no. 47.

[10] “Come gli Apostoli un tempo, è necessario però che anche l’umanità di oggi accolga nel cenacolo della storia Cristo risorto, che mostra le ferite della sua crocifissione e ripete: Pace a voi! Occorre che l’úmanità si lasci raggiungere e pervadere dallo Spirito che Cristo risorto le dona. È lo Spirito che risana le ferite del cuore, abbatte le barriere che ci distaccano da Dio e ci dividono tra di noi, restituisce insieme la gioia dell’amore del Padre e quella dell’unità fraterna.” Homily, 672, n. 3. English translation: HomiliaEng, p. 1, no. 3.

[11] Jn 13, 1.

[12] “Nie jest łatwo miłować miłością głęboką, która polega na autentycznym składaniu daru z siebie. Tej miłości można nauczyć się jedynie wnikając w tajemnicę miłości Boga. Wpatrując się w Niego, jednocząc się z Jego ojcowskim Sercem, stajemy się zdolni patrzeć na braci nowymi oczyma, w postawie bezinteresowności i solidarności, hojności i przebaczenia. Tym wszystkim jest właśnie miłosierdzie!” Homilia, 673, n. 5. English translation: HomiliaEng, p. 2, no. 5.

[13] Jn 20, 28.

[14] Diary, p. 148, no. 327.

[15] “Gesù, confido in Te, abbi misericordia di noi e del mondo intero.” Extrema Aegrotatio, 462, n. 2. English translation: Extrema AegrotatioEng, p. 1, no. 2.