A week after the Church’s most solemn and most ancient Easter celebration comes the relatively new spanine Mercy Sunday. In the Church’s two-millennia view, a devotion arising in about the past half-century is new. Nonetheless, the devotion has begun to flower in popularity in recent years.

The concept of God’s mercy is nothing new. The Old Testament psalmist in this Sunday’s liturgy cries out in praise to God on behalf of the Israelites: “His mercy endures forever.” Fortunate for us that it does.

It might be debated whether the current age is any more sinful than those of the past. But the 20th century and so far the 21st have been marked by excruciating human suffering. More than ever, we need the healing that God’s spanine mercy brings. It is a gift specifically for our time and our wounded condition, as inspaniduals and the human family.

As explained by Pope John Paul II, who did more than anyone to popularize devotion to spanine mercy as revealed by St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, Christ is revealed as “particularly close to man, especially when man is suffering, when he is under threat at the very heart of his existence and dignity.”

“And this is why,” the Pope said, “in the situation of the Church and the world today, many inspaniduals and groups guided by a lively sense of faith are turning, I would say almost spontaneously, to the mercy of God.”

Responding to what John Paul called “a unique appeal addressed to the Church,” the faithful are asked especially on this Sunday to turn to God the Father of mercies, revealed through Jesus Christ. Graces from the heart of our loving, forgiving God can heal the hardest, most injured hearts. It is a gift freely given to his people, who He wishes to live in holiness and Easter joy even amid life’s challenges.

“Have mercy on us and on the whole world,” state the words of the spanine Mercy Chaplet, a prayer based on the rosary (visit the web site thespaninemercy.org to learn more). The Second Sunday of Easter, or spanine Mercy Sunday, represents a new opportunity to accept the mercy that pours from the heart of our Savior, Jesus Christ.