Lithuanian Bishops, gathered in Vilnius on 14 November 2010 to the Feast of the Mother of Mercy, decided to proclaim 2011 the Year of Divine Mercy.
During this year, the Bishops encourage believers to go deeper into the mystery of Divine Mercy, to venerate the Image of the Merciful Jesus and to learn about its history as well as the request of Jesus, made through St Faustina, to spread it throughout the world. The Bishops also encourage believers to make pilgrimages to the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Vilnius and to meditate on the graces God is constantly pouring on us.
Every diocese in Lithuania and bigger communities of Lithuanians residing abroad will receive the copies of the Image of the Merciful Jesus, venerated in the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Vilnius, and these copies will move from one parish to another, from one community to another to remind the believers that mercy is God’s essential attribute. We only need to be open, to receive God’s mercy in our lives, to live by it and to bear witness of our Christian life to others.
As we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy on the Second Sunday of Easter, the National Congress on Divine Mercy will be held in Vilnius from 30 April to May 1st.
Vilnius Archdiocesan Curia
LETTER /INVITATION FOR THE CONGRESS FROM THE ARCHBISHOP OF VILNIUS
Vilnius, 6 January 2011
Dear People of goodwill !
The Bishops have proclaimed 2011 the Year of Divine Mercy. The purpose of my letter is to explain why we have bestowed upon this year such a title and how we invite people to live it.
Throughout the centuries Divine Mercy has been knocking at the human heart wounded by sin, sufferings, feelings of despair and fear. Divine Mercy encourages, consoles and invites us to trust in the Lord’s goodness and love.
Divine Mercy gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus with a new exclamation and encouragement in our country, and this fact in particular encourages to turn people’s attention to this Mercy. St Faustina, who lived in Vilnius, was entrusted by Our Saviour with the task to proclaim His Mercy to all mankind. Jesus said : “Speak to the world about my Mercy ; let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times ; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy ; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them” (D. 848).
It is namely this message which inspires us to invite everybody to know the grace of Divine Mercy, to accept it in our lives through conversion and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and to share it with others.
In order to give a visible sign of Divine Grace, Jesus asked to paint His image which reminds of the desire of His loving Heart to save the whole world. The image was painted in Vilnius and is venerated in the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. Jesus said to St Faustina : “The greatness of this image is not in the colours or the brush strokes, but in My Grace“.
I sincerely ask all people to listen to this message, to reflect and to go deeper into it. Thanks to His Mercy the Lord brings salvation especially where misery, pain, hatred, discord and despair are predominant. The grace of Divine Mercy overcomes sin and evil, calms souls, opens the fountains of peace and joy.
1 Let us know the Divine Mercy
Divine Mercy does not deny Divine Justice, but surpasses it and goes further. Divine Mercy and Love are an overabundance of justice. Forgiveness gushing forth from the pierced Heart of God to those who approach the Source of eternal Love reveals to us that no human sin may surpass God’s merciful love. Its action may be limited only by people’s free will, whereby they can refuse the grace granted through the Cross and Resurrection.
2 Let us accept Divine Mercy by conversion
The grace of conversion proposed by Christ invites us to acknowledge our sins and to renounce them so that we can choose again a free, honest and respectable life of the children of God. The water in which we were baptised is the first sign of Divine Mercy that grants us the identity of God’s children. A child of God is able to accept Divine Mercy but he is still free to choose. Unfortunately, if we understand freedom as a possibility to do whatever we want, we often sink in darkness. People suffer from slavery of sin. There are only two possibilities : despair or conversion. Despair is attractive because you do not need to do anything, only to sink deeper and deeper. The conversion, on the contrary, is an audacious jump into the hands of God. According to St Augustin, “God created us without our help, but will not save us without our consent”.
The sincere and humble exclamation ‘Jesus, have mercy on me’ abolishes barriers separating us from the Heart of the Merciful God. With that exclamation and awaited by the loving Father who is ready to embrace his children, we start our way of penance and conversion. The confession of sins and sincere repentance allow us to experience Divine Mercy very concretely, by filling our souls with the joy of forgiveness.
3 Let us be merciful
Revealing Divine Mercy, Christ expects people to be merciful : “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6, 36). This invitation reveals an essential moral teaching of the Gospel : God is merciful to man, and man must be merciful to his neighbour. Christ himself taught the prayer, in which we turn to Our Heavenly Father by saying : “…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Mt 6, 12).
As we experience Divine Mercy, we are invited to spread it in our family, community, and in our society. We have an obvious duty to help a poorer one, someone dogged by misfortune, a sick or abandoned person. Mercy consists of forgiveness, understanding and hope we spread by witnessing our faith and trust in God. There are plenty of people around us who suffer from roughness, indifference, uncontrolled anger in families and society. A lot of aggression arises from within : it comes out of despair, reluctance to see good things and our neighbours’ efforts, as well as signs of hope. Who can overcome that anger arising from the human heart and destroying everything ?
Jesus says : “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matheus 5:7). Mercy gives birth to mercy and spreads peace. As the human heart gets to know Divine Mercy, it becomes able to share that goodness with others. The good heart brings hope which flows from the pierced Heart of the Merciful Jesus to our exhausted and cold hearts. The only thing we need to do is to raise our eyes upward to Him and say ‘Jesus, I trust in you’, and then, with God’s help, to bring goodness, love, consolation to everybody whom the Lord sends to us. How much we can do just by one good word, a gesture of encouragement and consolation, or by giving a smile ! The door of mercy opens to people the way to hope which enlightens our journey on this earth and gives it an eternal value.
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As we celebrate the Year of Divine Mercy, let us know this Mercy. He is the only one who can overcome the evil and despair in which the world is imprisoned. Let us renounce sin and open our hearts to Divine Love and Goodness. Let us generously share this treasure with the others. Let us meet together and implore graces by praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy which was taught by Jesus in a small corner of Vilnius.
We invite all Lithuanian people to make a pilgrimage to Vilnius to pray before the images of the Mother of Mercy at the Gates of Dawn and of the Merciful Jesus which is venerated in the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. Together with John Paul II, the Servant of God, I implore you :
To help the people of today to experience the merciful love so that it can save the mankind by its splendour and sensibility. […] Mercy is needed so that every injustice in our world may disappear in the splendour of truth.
The Archbishop of Vilnius