A Message from Father William

April 19, 2020

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of the Easter Season, we read
in the Gospel of Saint John 20:19-31, Acts 2:42-47, Psalm 118, and 1 Peter 1:3-9,
about the infinite mercy and love of Jesus Christ, as Jesus is always ready to forgive us,
with divine love, compassion, kindness and generosity – that by His Passion, Death,
Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, Jesus has won the victory over sin and death
and has redeemed us and wrought for us eternal life in Heaven. The Church throughout the world also concludes a Novena today to the Divine Mercy, a nine-day devotional prayer that we began on Good Friday. We do all this, by God’s grace, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when some people might be losing their trust in God. It’s good for us all to remember that we might not be able to control the pandemic, but we can control our response by being more faithful, hopeful and loving disciples of Jesus Christ, being merciful in our words and deeds, being more patient and kind with everyone, family, friends and co-workers. We’re getting through this challenging time with God’s help. Indeed, we might be practicing social distancing, but never spiritual distancing, for Jesus is with us always (Matthew 28:20).

God calls us to respond to His mercy (His infinite compassion, love and forgiveness):
to believe in, follow and love Him, and to remember our ABC’s: Ask for His mercy, Be
merciful and Completely trust in Him. By God’s grace, amazingly, we can both receive
and communicate God’s mercy. When we receive His grace in the Sacraments (Holy
Eucharist and Confession, for example; making a spiritual Communion with our Lord
during this pandemic), Jesus Christ enfolds us in His infinite mercy and He strengthens
us to be instruments of His mercy and love, to live the spiritual and corporal works of
mercy, which are charitable actions in which we help our neighbors in their spiritual
and bodily necessities (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2447). Someone who did
not respond to God’s mercy was Judas Iscariot, who seemed to refuse God’s mercy
and collapsed in on himself in despair. Let us pray that Judas sought our Lord’s mercy
before he died. Let us pray for our world, our families and ourselves, “God the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit, by Your mercy sustain us. Give us Your grace to love you with all
our being and our neighbor as ourselves.”

Regarding spiritual and corporal works of mercy, Jesus said that as you did it to one
of the least of My brothers and sisters, you did it to Me (Matthew 25:31-46; Isaiah 58;
Hebrews 13); and He tells us to: feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; clothe the
naked; shelter the homeless; visit the sick; visit the imprisoned; and bury the dead. In
Sacred Scripture and Church history, God calls us to: counsel the doubtful; instruct
the ignorant; admonish the sinner; comfort the sorrowful; forgive injuries; bear wrongs patiently; and pray for the living and the dead.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we might be limited in what spiritual and
corporal works of mercy we can do, but we can participate in at least some of them,
right now, by praying for: the dead; those who are mourning; the sick, injured and
suffering; health-care workers; first responders and U.S. military personnel; moms, dads and their babies; strong marriages; the elderly; the orphaned and widowed; the jobless; the homeless; and all those committed to helping others. We can feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked and shelter the homeless by participating in such organizations as our Knights of Columbus and Council of Catholic Women, by helping with our Family Promise host week (this week!), and by giving of our time and treasure to our local food pantry and thrift stores, to various Catholic charities, including pro-life groups, such as Pro-Life Wisconsin, Wisconsin Right to Life, Clarity Clinic in Platteville, Women’s Care Center in Madison, and Priests for Life. Let us continue to pray: Jesus, have mercy on us and on the whole world. And Jesus, I trust in You. Amen. Alleluia!

With peace and prayers in Christ,
Fr. William Vernon