DIOCESE DEDICATED TO DIVINE MERCY: Catholics across the Albany Diocese have been working to entrust themselves completely to Christ’s merciful love and enable the Holy Spirit to perform works of mercy through them. The process culminated in last weekend's annual Divine Mercy consecration, celebrated by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany. At left, the Bishop speaks with the Alabastro family of Corpus Christi parish in Round Lake at the Mass; learn more in the accompanying story. (Nate Whitchurch photo)
DIOCESE DEDICATED TO DIVINE MERCY: Catholics across the Albany Diocese have been working to entrust themselves completely to Christ’s merciful love and enable the Holy Spirit to perform works of mercy through them. The process culminated in last weekend's annual Divine Mercy consecration, celebrated by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany. At left, the Bishop speaks with the Alabastro family of Corpus Christi parish in Round Lake at the Mass; learn more in the accompanying story. (Nate Whitchurch photo)
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
On April 8, Catholics from all over the Albany Diocese gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany for the annual diocesan Divine Mercy Sunday celebration, led by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger.

The day marks the end of the Consecration to Divine Mercy, a 33-day spiritual exercise through which Catholics perform daily prayers focusing on trusting completely in Christ’s merciful love and forgiveness.

Divine Mercy preparation materials say that, by strengthening one’s trust in Jesus, His followers will come to spread that same grace and mercy that He has bestowed on them.

Bishop Scharfenberger warned at the beginning of the Mass that a tremendous “grace bomb” was going to be dropped that night at the cathedral, even for those who didn’t do the preparation process for Divine Mercy consecration.

“You’re still getting a grace bomb,” he told all those present for the liturgy.

Trust in Jesus

In his homily, the Bishop explained that the consecration centers around the grace of Jesus, and that people must trust in the grace and love Christ carries.

“When we need God most, that is when we run away,” Bishop Scharfenberger said. “But, where sin abounds, grace abounds more. The harder we sin, the more God will try to get us back. That is what faith is all about.”

Leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday, Bishop Scharfenberger asked those preparing for the consecration this year to read from the book “33 Days to Merciful Love” by Rev. Michael Gaitley. The book includes daily readings about the mercy of God.

Lorraine Okeson of Holy Trinity parish in Cohoes brought along her copy of the book to brush up on her readings before Mass. She said she learned about Divine Mercy when she was in high school and has done the consecration annually ever since.

“The Blessed Mother was human, but she was so special,” said Ms. Okeson. “By renewing the consecration, it helps us to remember [her].”  

Keep trying

Alexandra Hallock of St. Pius X parish in Loudonville had also completed the Divine Mercy consecration before.

“For me, it reaffirms our faith,” she told The Evangelist. “When you renew [your consecration], it’s like Lent: You celebrate it every year, but each time you learn something different.”

The concept of consecration to Divine Mercy is based on the writings of St. Faustina Kowalska. In the 1930s, the Polish nun wrote a 600-page diary recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy, told to her through visions of Jesus Christ.

St. Faustina said that Jesus appeared to her as the “king of Divine Mercy.” Even after her death, her writings and messages about the devotional practice spread in popularity around the world.

Bishop Scharfenberger referenced St. Faustina’s diary, recalling that she wanted to be a saint, but was worried she was incapable. The bishop explained that, according to God’s plan, “everybody is supposed to be a saint.

“Everybody is meant to go to heaven,” he said. “The more honest we are with our sins, the more grace we’ll have.”

Cathedral parishioner Kim Springsteen said she was touched by that part of the bishop’s homily. She had not participated in the process of consecration, but now wants to learn more about it.

Steps toward God

Bishop Scharfenberger said that being honest and confessing one’s sins is important, though it can be difficult. He said “nothing hurts Jesus more than when the grace He wants to give us is rejected.

“Why is it that when we are most in trouble, we run away from God?” the Bishop asked. “[Because] we’re ashamed.”

According to the Bishop, consecration to Divine Mercy helps Catholics to wipe their sins clean and reaffirm that much-needed trust in Jesus and His way.

“Every time you do the 33-day readings, you get more out of it,” affirmed Frank Salvaggio of St. Augustine’s parish in Troy. He called Father Gaitley’s “one of the richest spiritual books I’ve ever picked up.”

Father Gaitley cites St. Therese of Lisieux, often called the “Little Flower,” as an example to be emulated in seeking Divine Mercy. She called her simple spirituality her “little way;” Father Gaitley encourages Catholics to remain “little” in accepting their brokenness and need for mercy, but to know they can become saints, too.

Bishop Scharfenberger concluded the Mass with a prayer of consecration to merciful love, calling on those attending to turn to Jesus and ask, “with the help of Your grace, to strive with all my heart to follow the little way.”