Monday, April 15, 2013


Shortly after Benedict XVI became pope, Eamon Duffy gave a lecture at BC speculating on the direction of his pontificate regarding liturgical reform, and iirc, he guessed that the feast of the Divine Mercy (the second Sunday of Easter) would not be kept on the universal calendar long. It was added because of the devotion of John Paul II. (After all, Sr. Faustina was Polish.) Given the conservatism of Benedict XVI the feast has been maintained, and [Pope] Francis has not removed the feast, either.

Is the devotion of the Divine Mercy itself superfluous? Is the second Sunday of Easter the appropriate place for the observance of the devotion? Are there not other comparable Western/Latin devotions that already existed? I think Dr. Duffy mentioned the Sacred Heart of Jesus precisely in connection with the Divine Mercy.

The Difference is in the Emphasis
The Sacred Heart of Jesus and The Divine Mercy, Part Five
By Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD
(more in the website's library)

A Monk Reflects on Divine Mercy and the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Given the image that accompanies the devotion, though, is the Divine Mercy any more Trinitarian than the Sacred Heart, as Fr. Ignacy Rozycki claims (see Dr. Stackpole's essay)? Fr. Sopocko argues that the devotion to the Divine Mercy is a development of the devotion to the Sacred Heart.

I was also thinking of the comments by Fr. Louis Bouyer on the devotion to the Sacred Heart in his Liturgical Piety (p. 249, 251 ). Bouyer's criticisms of paralitugies replacing the liturgy of the Church is understandable, given his concern to ground Christian spirituality within the liturgy. There has been a multiplication of devotions in the Latin West,
each focused on a particular aspect of God or His Saving Action in history. Bouyer writes that they have served as a necessary help for a people who were not formed in an authentic liturgical spirituality. The answer to the question of whether some may obscure the spirituality of the Roman-rite liturgy would be yes, for Bouyer. (Is there anything comparable in Eastern Orthodoxy, in terms of the number of devotions?) What would Fr. Bouyer have made of the devotion to the Divine Mercy? Another modern devotion that potentially misleads? Or a beneficial corrective?

We should reflect upon the great mercy and love of God, of Christ - the Jesus Prayer of the East in many ways resonates with both of these Western devotions, but is in a way more "simpler" - with respect to the imagination, at least. It is focused less on a sensible reality (as given by the images propagated with both Western devotions) and more on the person of Christ - and more tied to the objective Mystery, as Bouyer might write?

Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas - On Devotion to the Sacred Heart

Benedict XVI, Papal Letter on 50th Anniversary of "Haurietis Aquas"

From 2006: Benedict XVI's mission to restore the glories of the Catholic liturgy

The legacy of Pope Benedict XVI

From NCR, Eamon Duffy on Liturgical Reform and Pope Benedict - Where truth and beauty meet: Understanding Benedict - 7