On April 15, 2012, the consecrated
women of Regnum Christi attended the feast of Divine Mercy
celebration at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge,
Massachusetts, along with 22,000 pilgrims. The consecrated women provided the
music for the celebration, as well as volunteering in other
capacities. Following is an account of the event by one
of the choir members, Mary DeGoede.
“My daughter, look into the abyss of my mercy and
give praise and glory to this mercy of mine. On
the day of my feast, the Feast of Mercy, you
will go through the whole world and bring fainting souls
to the spring of my mercy. I shall heal them
and strengthen them” (Jesus to St. Faustina).
Stockbridge, Massachusetts --
As we lead the
crowd of 22,000 in praise and worship songs before Mass,
I look out at the sea of faces in amazement.
Although this is my second time singing at the National
Shrine of Divine Mercy, the sheer volume of people still
leaves me a bit incredulous. This is our Church, I
think to myself; this mass of people who have arrived
with umbrellas, sunhats, and all the faith of our hearts
to a grassy hill in Stockbridge, and are now praying
for God’s mercy on the world. A group
ladies in the fifth or sixth row stand up and
begin to sway and clap to the music, singing the
simple prayer with all their hearts: Lord, I lift your
name on high; Lord, I love to sing your praises!
I’m so glad you’re in my life; I’m so glad
you came to save us! I’m moved by their deep
devotion, and suddenly the nervousness brought on by a large
choir performance is gone, because this is no performance. We
happen to be standing in the front, but we are
here to praise God and pray for his mercy, right
alongside the rest of the faithful.
begins, celebrated by Springfield Bishop Timothy McDonnell, accompanied by many
other priests and deacons. As we pray and sing our
way through the consecration, my eyes are drawn again to
the crowd, now on their knees on the grass. I
wonder if the crowds in Palestine looked like this when
Jesus was preaching. And to think that we were worried
about the sound system! However Jesus managed it at the
time, his words now echo across the hill: Take this,
all of you, and drink from it, for this is
the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new
and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you
and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this
in memory of me. These words seem to hold a
special power today, as we “do this in memory” of
him on this feast for sinners. As he asked St.
Faustina to do, we are coming before him not only
for ourselves, but for all souls in need of mercy.
Behold the Lamb of God; behold him who takes away
the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to
the supper of the Lamb!
During Communion, I look
to the far left of the crowd, where a
priest in gold vestments is pressed up against one of
the low barriers, placing the Body of Christ into the
outstretched hands of the people crowding up to the other
side. This picture will remain in my mind over the
next few days; a picture that says “hunger.” That’s me,
I think to myself; that’s all of us, hungering for
God and his mercy. The Divine Mercy devotion has become
particularly meaningful for all of us consecrated in the last
few years – years of asking for forgiveness, as well
as finding forgiveness in our own hearts. Last year, the
choir’s trip to Stockbridge turned into a pilgrimage for all
of the consecrated in Greenville, as well as several others.
When we were invited back to sing this year, everyone
wanted to part of it again. Most of us prayed
the novena leading up the feast, and all of us
have felt blessed to be a part of the celebration
– singing or otherwise.
I was a bit bemused by the meticulous scheduling of
the “preshow” – we sang from something like 11:47 to
12:16 – but now I understand it: everything is carefully
orchestrated so that the Divine Mercy Chaplet begins at 3:00
on the dot. Have mercy on us and on the
whole world. The prayer rises thunderously, over and over, from
thousands of voices. If Jesus is “in the midst” of
two or three people gathered in his name, than this
prayer must have serious power! It’s impossible to have any
bleak outlook on the world as I unite
my voice to the voices of so many others who
have faith in God’s mercy. One of my family’s stock
phrases comes to mind: “it’ll all work out.” As long
as faithful people like these remain, it will indeed work
out for good in the end!
|The RC consecrated sing for the second year in a row at the Stockbridge Massachusetts Shrine|
After the triumphant closing song ends, as
the crowd begins to stream off of the field, one
of the priests asks us to accompany a special guest:
Jesus is on his way back to the church at
the top of the hill. As the priest carries the
Blessed Sacrament up the hill, we follow behind, singing. The
few remaining people drop to their knees as we pass,
and after a few moments we arrive at the church.
Once inside, it turns out that a large group of
people who weren’t able to receive Communion during Mass are
now approaching the altar. As they receive, we start another
song. And then another. And another. And one more. No
one seems to want to leave. The crowds are gone,
the cameras are gone; we like to say that we
sing for Jesus, and now we’re literally doing just that.
The celebration has
ended, but the impact on all of us is deep.
Even if the memories fade, experiences like these change you
in a small but permanent ways.
For in fire gold is
tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust God and he will help you; make straight your
ways and hope in him.
You who fear the LORD, wait for his mercy,
turn not away lest you fall.
You who fear the LORD, trust him, and
your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the LORD, hope for good
things, for lasting joy and mercy.
Study the generations long past and understand; has
anyone hoped in the LORD and been disappointed? Has anyone
persevered in his fear and been forsaken? Has anyone called
upon him and been rebuffed?
Compassionate and merciful is the LORD; he forgives sins,
he saves in time of trouble. (Sirach 2:5-11)
To learn more about the Feast of
Divine Mercy, visit www.thedivinemercy.org. Watch the video of the
liturgy at Stockbridge here.