Liturgical authority acts to protect lectionary from new devotion
Australia's National Liturgical Commission has sought to put the popular new 'Divine Mercy' devotion in perspective by amplifying a Roman decree that prayers and readings derived from the devotion should not override those set down by the official lectionary.
It was referring specifically to the liturgy for the Second Sunday of Easter, which some Catholics are now calling Divine Mercy Sunday.
The devotion is centred on a message received by St Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who was canonised last year on Divine Mercy Sunday. In 1931, Jesus is said to have appeared to her and instructed her to paint a specified image with the caption 'Jesus I trust in you'. In return, Jesus promised that those who venerate the image will not perish. Jesus also called for a Novena to the Divine Mercy from Good Friday until the Sunday after Easter, which he wanted designated Divine Mercy Sunday.
The statement released yesterday by the Liturgical Commission read: "Pope John Paul II acceding to the Christian faithful in many parts of the world who wish to praise the Divine Mercy in Divine Worship ... has determined that in the Roman Missal, after the title Second Sunday of Easter is to be added a sub-heading or Divine Mercy Sunday. However, the Mass, Lectionary and Liturgy of the Hours remain unchanged."
In issuing the statement, the Commission's Bishop Kevin Manning made it clear that his intention was not to discourage the devotion, but to preserve the integrity of the liturgical calendar.
The statement explained: "Devotions belong to that treasury of holiness preserved by faithful individuals (S C. 13) and are often linked with the cultural tradition of a nation. Liturgy however is the official worship of the Church. Devotions find their proper place outside the celebration of Eucharist."