Dear Fellow Parishioners,
Last Sunday was a busy day, not only in Petaluma, but also on the church calendar. The Second Sunday of Easter has been celebrated under several titles over the years.
Some of us remember when it was known as “Low Sunday”– not because it was seen as a big letdown after Easter – but because “Low” is probably a corruption of the Latin word “Laudes” (“Praises”), the first word of the Sequence chanted on that Sunday: “Laudes Salvatori voce modulemur supplici…” – “Let us sing praises to the Savior with humble voice.”
It was also known as “Quasimodo Sunday.” The Introit of the Mass was taken from the First Letter of Peter, Chapter 2: “Quasi modo geniti infantes” – “As with newborn babes…,” Later, that was also the source for the name used by Victor Hugo for “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” found abandoned as a baby at the steps of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Last Sunday has also been known, for obvious reason, as St. Thomas Sunday. The gospel tells us how Thomas – “Doubting Thomas” – came to believe in the Risen Lord. This took place on the Sunday after the Resurrection.
Finally, the Second Sunday of Easter is now known as Divine Mercy Sunday. This solemnity has been celebrated unofficially for many years. On April 30, 2000 – which was the Sunday after Easter that year – Pope John Paul II canonized St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish woman religious closely associated with devotion to Divine Mercyand the creation of the now-famous icon. The pope decreed that from then on, Divine Mercy Sunday would be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter, beginning with the first Easter of the new millennium. It is no coincidence that Divine Mercy arose from the experience of the church in Poland, a country that suffered perhaps more than any other from episodes of monumental wickedness during the 20th century. It is only through God’s mercy that treachery and tragedy can be transformed into a force for spiritual beauty and goodness. Now that Ukraine is under attack, over 5 million of its citizens have fled as refugees. Poland, an overwhelmingly Catholic country of 38 million, has already accepted 3 million refugees from their neighbor – almost 8% of Poland’s total population. It seems that the country which gave rise to Divine Mercy is now showing mercy in a most exemplary and practical way.
Fr. Bill Donahue