DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
Why Divine Mercy Sunday
Among all of the elements of devotion to the Divine Mercy requested by Jesus through St. Faustina Kowalska (the feast of mercy, the image of the merciful Jesus, the chaplet, the hour of mercy and spreading the devotion to the Divine Mercy), the feast of mercy holds first place. The Lord’s will with regard to its establishment was already made known in His revelation to the saint, as recorded in her Diary, 699:
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.
Our Lord’s explicit desire is that this feast be celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. This Sunday is designated in the liturgy as the Octave Day of Easter. It was officially called the Second Sunday of Easter after the liturgical reform of Vatican II. Now, by the Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (issued on 5th May, 2000), the name of this liturgical day has been changed to: Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday. Saint John Paul II made the surprise announcement of this change in his homily at the canonisation of St. Faustina on 30th April, 2000. There, he declared: “It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church, will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.’” By the words “the whole message,” Saint John Paul II was referring to the connection between the “Easter Mystery of the Redemption” - in other words, the suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, followed by the sending of the Holy Spirit - and this Feast of Divine Mercy, the Octave Day of Easter, which fulfils the grace of atonement as lived through by Christ Jesus and offered to all who come to Him with trust.
The ABC of Mercy
God is Mercy itself, and we are called to practice the ABC of Mercy:
A - Ask for His Mercy
B - Be merciful to others
C - Completely trust in Jesus
HOW TO PREPARE FOR DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
Personal prayer and devotions lead to a fuller participation in the liturgy. Not only are the liturgy and the celebration of the Sacraments an unlimited source of grace flowing from Christ and His Sacrifice for us, but they also form us spiritually, helping us grow in love of God and neighbour.
The season of Lent offers us a time to focus on our spiritual life. There are many ways that can help us enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. While the suggestions offered here may be helpful to individuals, they could also be promoted parish-wide and to the broader community.
A. Deepen Your Faith and Trust in Jesus
Trust in Jesus is the essence of the message and devotion to the Divine Mercy. When we go to a public fountain, we can draw water from it as long as we have a vessel or container of some kind to put the water in. If our vessel is small, we can only bring back a little water; if it’s large, we can bring back a lot. Anyone with a vessel can draw water from the fountain. The water is there for us, and no one is excluded. All we need is a vessel. So it is with God’s Mercy. In repeated revelations to St. Faustina, Our Divine Saviour makes it clear that the fountain is His Heart, the water is His mercy, and the vessel is trust.
I have opened My Heart as a living fountain of mercy. Let all souls draw life from it. Let them approach this sea of mercy with great trust. (Diary, 1520) I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. (Diary,327) The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is - trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. (Diary,1578)
But there is more to trust than just believing that God is trustworthy. We have to act upon that belief. Trust involves a turning back to God, a real conversion of our whole lives to God, repenting of our sins and forgiving others. Trust is a living faith. Trust means that we agree to let God be God, instead of trying to be God ourselves. (Trust is the antidote to the first sin of Adam!) It means that we agree that God can write the script of our lives, instead of insisting on our own script. It means that we agree with the great pledge we make in the Our Father: “Your will [not mine] be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It means that even in our moments of agony we agree with the cry of Jesus in the Garden, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” (Lk 22:42)
B. Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Seek to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly and, at least, once a year to fulfil our Easter duty.
C. Perform Deeds of Mercy
In St. Faustina’s Diary, Christ spoke to her about the importance of mercy - not just occasionally celebrating the feast, but living God’s Mercy in our lives:
My daughter, if I demand through you that people revere My mercy, you should be the first to distinguish yourself by this confidence in My mercy. I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbours always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it.
I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbour: the first - by deed, the second -by word, the third - by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy. Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy, and I demand the worship of My mercy through the solemn celebration of the Feast and through the veneration of the image which is painted. By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works. (Diary,742)
Performing deeds of mercy is a way of imitating Christ and opening ourselves to become more like Him.
1. Feed the hungry
2. Give drink to the thirsty
3. Clothe the naked
4. Shelter the homeless
5. Comfort the imprisoned
6. Visit the sick
7. Bury the dead
D. Pray - Plead for God’s Mercy
Through the passion and death of Jesus, an infinite ocean of mercy was made available for all of us. But God cannot force anything on us, not even His mercy. He must wait for us to turn from our sinfulness and ask: “Ask and it will be given to you … for everyone who asks receives” (Mt. 7:7, 8). The Scriptures are filled with examples of how to trust in God and ask for His mercy: the psalms; the faith of Abraham and Moses who pleaded and “bargained” with God; the man who persuaded his friend to get up in the middle of the night to lend him some bread; the persistent widow who secured justice from the unjust judge; the Canaanite woman who “argued” with Jesus about her right to His mercy; and the witness of Mary, whose appeal for mercy at Cana led Jesus to perform His first public miracle, thus acknowledging that His time had indeed come.
Jesus revealed this same message to St. Faustina, once again. He gave her three new ways to ask for mercy on the strength of His passion: the chaplet, the novena, and prayer at three o’clock; and He taught her to transform her daily life into a continuous prayer for mercy. Through her, He calls us all to ask for His mercy:
Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask.
I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion (Diary,1146). No soul that has called upon My mercy has ever been disappointed”. (Diary, 1541)
Jesus asked Sr Faustina to pray the special novena as a preparation to the Feast of the Divine Mercy:
I desire that during these nine days you bring souls to the fountain of My mercy, that they may draw there from strength and refreshment and whatever grace they have need of in the hardships of life, and especially at the hour of death. (Diary,1209)
The Novena to the Divine Mercy as a preparation to the Feast of Mercy begins on Good Friday.
E. Study Your Faith
Holy Scripture, Church Documents, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and other treasures of Catholic literature like for example the Diary of St. Faustina provide an inexhaustible source of inspiration and formation in the faith.
F. Share Your Faith with Others
Jesus invites us to participate in His mission of healing the world from the ravages of sin, hatred and lack of forgiveness. Many times Jesus asked St. Faustina to proclaim His mercy and to help Him save souls. People are inspired by examples of how God’s mercy has changed someone’s life. If you share your own story of experiencing God’s love, you will help to open hearts. Encouraging each other in perseverance and fidelity to God’s will and His commandments helps us grow in holiness.
HOW TO OBSERVE THE FEAST OF MERCY
1. Go to confession, preferably before that Sunday
2. Sincerely repent of all your sins
3. Place your complete trust in Jesus
4. Celebrate the Feast
5. Receive Holy Communion on the day of the Feast
6. Venerate the Image of the Divine Mercy
7. Be merciful to others, through your actions, words and prayers on their behalf
PLENARY INDULGENCE AVAILABLE ON DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
In a decree dated August 3, 2002, the Apostolic Penitentiary announced that in order ‘to ensure that the faithful would observe this day (Divine Mercy Sunday) with intense devotion, the Supreme Pontiff himself established that this Sunday be enriched by a plenary indulgence… so that the faithful might receive in great abundance the gift of the consolation of the Holy Spirit. In this way, they can foster a growing love for God and for their neighbour, and after they have obtained God’s pardon, they in turn might be persuaded to show a prompt pardon to their brothers and sisters.’
The plenary indulgence is granted under the usual conditions (confession, Holy Communion and prayer for the intentions of the Pope) 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!).
The following publications on the subject of the Feast of Divine Mercy are available in our on-line depository (http://www.divinemercyapostolate.co.uk)
- Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul Order ref: DNBF
- Divine Mercy Prayer Book Order ref: D725
- The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion - Order ref: LF52
- Devotion to the Divine Mercy - Order ref: FL002
- Divine Mercy Sunday - Order ref: DMS
- How to Prepare for Divine Mercy Sunday - Order ref: MSF