EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
By Becky Roach, December 4,2015
This beautiful glimpse into the life of St. Faustina is a clip from the award-winning movie Faustina: The Apostle of Divine Mercy, recently released by Ignatius Press. The film is based on St.Faustina’s “Diary” and tells the story of the Polish nun who received powerful messages from Jesus. Jesus appeared to St. Faustina frequently throughout her life and used her as way to transmit the message of His Divine Mercy to others.
In her diary, St. Faustina describes in detail the image of Mercy that Christ instructed her to have painted. “The two rays denote Blood and Water. the pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. These rays shield souls from the wrath of My Father. Happy is the one who dwells in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him.” (Diary 299) In 1934 St. Faustina and her spiritual advisor sought out Eugeniusz Kazimirowski to paint the image.
Jesus insisted when the work was completed that it be placed in chapels and venerated throughout the world. He promised that many graces would come for those who meditated on this beautiful image.
Pope Saint John Paul II was very passionate about the mission of revealing the mercy of Jesus to the world. In the year 2000, at the canonization Mass for St. Faustina, he announced that the Second Sunday of Easter would now be known as Divine Mercy Sunday. It must be made clear that this was not done in order to establish a way of honoring St. Faustina, but to emphasize the meaning of the Resurrection and the depths of God’s great mercy and love that is made available to all of His creation. Divine Mercy Sunday is not a new feast day because the Second Sunday of Easter has always been a solemnity known as the Octave Day of Easter. The richness of the mercy of God comes to us not only through St. Faustina’s revelations, but also through scripture and the history and tradition of the Catholic Church.
What happens on Divine Mercy Sunday?
Saint Faustina tells us in her Diary:
“On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. 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. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy.” (Diary 699)
In short, Jesus has promised to pour out extraordinary graces to those who come to Him on this day focused on His Mercy. He has promised complete forgiveness of sins and punishment for those who take part by doing what He has instructed. To further encourage us to participate in this tradition, in 2002 a plenary indulgence was also granted for those who observe the necessary conditions. For more information on the indulgence visit here.
How do I prepare for Divine Mercy Sunday in order to receive these graces?
(The following information on how to prepare for Divine Mercy Sunday was excerpted from Understanding Divine Mercy Sunday, by Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD.)
1. Celebrate the Feast on the Sunday after Easter;
2. Sincerely repent of all our sins;
3. Place our complete trust in Jesus;
4. Go to Confession, preferably before that Sunday;
5. Receive Holy Communion on the day of the Feast;
6. Venerate* the Image of The Divine Mercy;
7. Be merciful to others, through our actions, words, and prayers on their behalf.
*To venerate a sacred image or statue simply means to perform some act or make some gesture of deep religious respect toward it because of the person whom it represents — in this case, our Most Merciful Savior.
How can I live out the message of Divine Mercy throughout the year?
This message of Divine Mercy is not just intended for one Sunday. We should live this and embrace it daily. Our understanding of the mercy of Christ is key to our relationship with Him. It is also essential that we show mercy to others. In our culture, the idea of mercy has been lost. We demand that others pay the price for their wrongs. Rarely, do we forgive those who do not “deserve” or ask for forgiveness. Mercy will be a form of evangelization. Others will surely notice when we show mercy with the love of Christ. We can do this by studying the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy and making their practice a habit in our lives.
Pope Francis encouraged this practice when he announced this year as a Jubilee of Mercy. “It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty. And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy.” You may also choose to recite The Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily or whenever possible. Finally, learn more about Divine Mercy: read the Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul; watch the new film Faustina: The Apostle of Divine Mercy from Ignatius Press; listen to the teachings of Fr. Michael Gaitley on Divine Mercy and those of Pope Saint John Paul II. There are so many wonderful resources to help you grow in your understanding of the mercy Christ wants to reveal to you.
Don’t just keep the good news of this mercy to yourself. Think back to last Sunday when you saw those people who only show up to Church on Christmas and Easter. Do you know some of those faces? Are they your neighbors, co-workers, friends or relatives? Invite them to come back to Mass again this Sunday. Share with them the power of mercy and the forgiveness that God desires to lavish on them through this feast day. Be the encouragement that someone else may need to enter into the doors of our Churches and receive the graces God wants to bestow. When we take the initiative to educate others about Divine Mercy Sunday and actively draw them into the celebration of the Eucharist, we will know that our own hearts are truly beginning to understand the message of mercy and love of the risen Lord.
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
If you desire to purchase the Divine Mercy image for your own home, it is available from Lighthouse Media.
Finally, here is a infographic from the Catholic-Link Library of Resources that presents the 4 key points to the Feast of Divine Mercy:
Catholics honor Mary because she is the Mother of God. As the Ten Commandments state, we only have one God whom we worship, adore, and glorify.