Divine Mercy Sunday


The Feast of the Divine Mercy or Divine Mercy Sunday falls on the Octave Day of Easter (Low Sunday), the Sunday immediately following Easter Sunday. Divine Mercy Sunday is named in honour of the Divine Mercy devotion, which was promoted by Saint Faustina Kowalska, “the Apostle of Mercy”.

 

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Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament (1905-1938) was a Polish nun, visionary, and mystic. She entered religious life in 1926 and received several visions of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph. She was beatified in 1993 and canonized in 2000 by Venerable Pope John Paul the Great. She was also proclaimed one of the patrons of World Youth Day. Saint Faustina kept a diary, which was later published under the title Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of Saint Faustina.

 

The Image of the Divine Mercy

 

On 22 February 1931, Christ appeared to Saint Faustina as the “King of Divine Mercy”, wearing a white garment. His right hand was raised in a sign of blessing and the other was touching His garment at the breast. From beneath the garment emanated two large rays, one red, and the other white. According to the diary of Saint Faustina, Christ said: 

 

“Paint an image according to the pattern you see with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You… I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over its enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory” (Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of Saint Faustina, 47 & 48).

 

Christ also said that “the two rays represent blood and water,” in reference to the “blood and water” mentioned in the Gospel of John (19:34). Acting upon orders she received from Christ, Saint Faustina had a picture of this vision painted.

 

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The Image of the Divine Mercy visualizes the Gospel reading for the Octave Day of Easter (John 20:19-31) which, in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, tells of the appearance of the Risen Christ to His disciples in the cenacle and the institution of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

 

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21-23).

 

This the Holy Apostles passed down through apostolic succession to all bishops and priests, and which the faithful receive in sacramental absolution when the priest says some of the most beautiful words in the history of mankind:

 

“God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

 

Divine Mercy Sunday and the Promise of Christ

 

According to the diary of Saint Faustina, Christ said: 

 

“I desire that there be a Feast of Mercy. I want this image, which you will paint with a brush, to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy” (Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of Saint Faustina, 49). 

 

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“On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity” (Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of Saint Faustina, 699).

 

The devotion of Divine Mercy Sunday was celebrated unofficially in many places for years until 2000, when in conjunction with Saint Faustina’s canonization, Pope John Paul the Great decreed that the Sunday after Easter would officially be known as “the Second Sunday of Easter or the Sunday of the Divine Mercy” (in Latin: Dominica secunda Paschæ seu de divina misericordia).

 

“Throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come” (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 23 May 2000).

 

In 2002, Venerable Pope John Paul the Great granted indulgences associated with this devotion, thereby institutionalizing with the full authority of the Church the Promise made by Christ to Saint Faustina, in regards to the Feast of Divine Mercy.

 

“And so the Supreme Pontiff, motivated by an ardent desire to foster in Christians this devotion to Divine Mercy as much as possible in the hope of offering great spiritual fruit to the faithful… granted the following Indulgences: 

·         a plenary indulgence, granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honour of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. ‘Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!’);

·         A partial indulgence, granted to the faithful who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus a legitimately approved invocation” (Apostolic Penitentiary, 29 June 2002).

 

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The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

 

In 1935, Saint Faustina had a vision which described what is now called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The prayer is said on ordinary rosary beads. First is said one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and then the Apostles’ Creed. Then on the “Our Father” beads is said:

 

Eternal Father,

I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity

of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,

in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

 

On the “Hail Mary” beads, the following is said:

 

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion,

have mercy on us and the whole world.

 

In conclusion, the following is said three times:

 

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One,

have mercy on us and the whole world.

 

According to the diary of Saint Faustina, Christ said: 

 

“My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given you. It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet” (Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of Saint Faustina, 1541).

 

Nota bene: Domina Nostra Publishing is currently working on publishing the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (Corona Divinæ Misericordiæ) in Latin and English… ora pro nobis!


The Pope of Divine Mercy

 

“The paschal mystery is the culmination of this revealing and effecting of mercy, which is able to justify man, to restore justice in the sense of that salvific order which God willed from the beginning in man, and through man, in the world” (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Dives in misericordia, n. 7).

 

Being Polish, Venerable Pope John Paul the Great naturally had a strong love of Saint Faustina and the Divine Mercy devotion. As Archbishop of Krakow, he began a new investigation into the life and writings of the saint. According to his biographer George Weigel, the Venerable Pope felt “very near” to Saint Faustina as he began writing his 1980 encyclical letter Dives in misericordia (“Rich in Mercy”).

 

In addition to beatifying and canonizing Saint Faustina, he used his full authority as the Vicar of Christ to institutionalize Divine Mercy Sunday in the General Roman Calendar, and the Promise of Divine Mercy Sunday as a plenary indulgence.

 

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Venerable Pope John Paul the Great died on the evening of Saturday, 2 April 2005, the Vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday. Coincidence? Some say there are no coincidences, only “God incidences”!

 

Geoffrey W. M. P. Lopes da Silva

Publisher and Executive Editor

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