Divine mercy devotion
The Divine Mercy Devotion began spreading throughout the world in the 1930’s from the writings of Sister Faustina, a young uneducated Polish nun who in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of approximately six hundred pages recording the revelations she received from Jesus about God’s mercy. The message was nothing new, but it was a powerful reminder of what the Church has always taught through scripture and tradition: that God is merciful and forgiving and that we too must show mercy and forgiveness. With the Divine Mercy Devotion, this message takes on a more greater focus, calling the faithful to a deeper understanding that God’s love is unlimited and available to everyone, especially the greatest sinners.
The message of the Divine Mercy Devotion is that God loves all of us, no matter how great our sins. God wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we may call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy and allow it to flow to others, thus all may come to share in His joy. The message of the Divine Mercy requires the faithful to: ask for God’s mercy, be merciful to others and completely trust in Jesus.
To Ask for God’s mercy, God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy upon us and upon the whole world. To be merciful, God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others, to extend His love and forgiveness just as He has given it to us. To completely trust in Jesus, God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust, the more we trust the more we will receive.
The Divine Mercy Devotion has three key devotional prayers, which enriches the devotional experience and increase the precious gift of God’s mercy in our lives and for the whole world:
The Divine Mercy Devotion is not one that limits the devotee to prayers or to hanging a Divine Mercy image on the wall or to receive Communion on the first Sunday after Easter, but it is a devotion that puts mercy into action. Putting mercy into action is not an option, it is a requirement! From the Sister Faustina’s diary, the Lord stated, “I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse yourself from it” (Diary, 742). To be merciful always may seem impossible, but the Lord assures us that it is possible when a soul approaches Him with trust, “I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls” (Diary, 1074).
How do the faithful radiate God’s mercy to others? By our actions, words and prayers. In these three degrees, Christ tells Sister Faustina, “is contained the fullness of mercy.” (Diary 742). Although we have all been called to this threefold practice of mercy, we have not been called in the same way. It is necessary for each one of us to pray to the Lord, who understands our individual personalities and situation, to help us recognize the various ways we can show His mercy in our daily lives. By asking for and trusting in the the Lord’s mercy, and by our conscious efforts to sincerely live mercifully, we can be assured of the wonderful promise, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
The image of the Divine Mercy, revealed to Sister Faustina on February 22nd, 1931 depicts Jesus with rays radiating from His heart. Jesus requested that a painting of this image be made, first to be venerated in Sister Faustina’s chapel, then throughout the world. Jesus made a special promise to those who venerate the image of the Divine Mercy, “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.” (Diary 48)
The image of the Divine Mercy is an offering by Jesus to people as a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. This vessel is the image of Divine Mercy with the signature, “Jesus, I trust in You.”
The two rays radiating from the heart of Jesus, one red and the other a pale white. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. The pale white ray stands for Water which makes the soul righteous. Jesus explained that these two rays issued forth from the very depths of His tender mercy when the lance pierced His agonizing heart on the Cross. Jesus continued to state that these rays shield souls from the wrath of His father, “…Happy is the one who dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him. (Diary 299).
Jesus left Sister Faustina with an important reminder for all with the image of the Divine Mercy, that it is a reminder of the demands of His mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works. (Diary 742)
The Feast of Divine Mercy which had already been granted to Poland, was granted to the Universal Catholic Church by Blessed Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of Sister Faustina on April 30, 2000. In a decree dated May 23, 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that, “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.” Jesus revealed to Sister Faustina that, “Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” (Diary 300).
Blessed Pope John Paul II, in an effort to further encourage the faithful to observe Divine Mercy Sunday with intense devotion, granted on this day a plenary indulgence. A plenary indulgence will be granted under the three usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who 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 honor 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 will also be granted to the faithful who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus a legitimately approved invocation.
The faithful who can not go to church (sailors working at sea, brothers and sisters who are prevented from attending church due to war, violence, political unrest, those displaced from their homeland and others) or who are seriously ill, can also receive a plenary indulgence if on the Divine Mercy Sunday, totally detesting any sin and with the intention of fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual conditions, will recited the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father) and the Creed before a devout image of the Our Merciful Lord Jesus and in addition, pray a devout invocation to the Merciful Lord Jesus (eg. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you).
In granting this plenary indulgence, it was the desire of the Blessed Pope John Paul II, that the faithful would receive in great abundance the gift of consolation of the Holy Spirit, fostering a growing love for God and for their neighbor and after obtaining God’s pardon, that they in turn might be persuaded to show a prompt pardon to their brothers and sisters.