Happy Divine Mercy Sunday!
As I sit down to write this piece, it is not lost on me that 15 years ago today, we lost a beloved pope, Pope John Paul II. At his beatification Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2014, Pope Francis referred to him as the Great Mercy Pope. There is a lot of information, Church teaching, history and the like regarding Divine Mercy. There is so much to unpack, and I will not be able to give a comprehensive explanation of this glorious day and devotion we celebrate in the Catholic Church!
I became interested in Saint Faustina’s story, experiences, and visions with Jesus because she was from Poland.
Her story does not stay in Poland but crosses international territory into Lithuania, where my family is from. The Divine Mercy image that Jesus Christ himself asked her to have commissioned was protected and hung in a church in Vilnius, Lithuania. From Lithuania to America, the message of Divine Mercy first traveled outside of Eastern Europe, and the first copies of the image were printed in a small print shop in Detroit in the early 1940’s.
What is mercy?
I read recently that Saint John Paul II wrote that mercy is “love’s second name.”
I absolutely adore this explanation. Mercy is not a weakness. It is love in action. To have mercy on a person or a situation is to be moved out of love to relieve suffering. In the Catholic Church we have the corporal and the spiritual works of mercy. These are actions we believe Christians should do out of love for our fellow man.
What is Divine Mercy?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners” (#1846). Jesus appeared to Saint Faustina throughout her earthly life to proclaim God’s unfathomable mercy to the world.
Saint Faustina is considered a prophet in the Catholic Church.
She is not one of the Biblical prophets, of course. But, like all prophets, her role was one of speaking for another–she spoke God’s desire to pour out His mercy on a world that needed it. Her writings have been studied, and her message adopted.
We have the hour of mercy which is 3 o’clock, the hour Jesus died on the cross.
Catholics are encouraged to stop what they are doing during this hour and whisper a prayer to Jesus imploring his mercy. This is the hour that the “ocean of mercy was opened up for the whole world!” If one can go to an adoration chapel or actually say a Divine Mercy chaplet, that is even better. The Divine Mercy chaplet is a litany of prayers often prayed on a rosary or prayer beads. The prayers for the Divine Mercy chaplet are really beautiful. I often find myself repeating throughout the day, “For the sake of your sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” We also have the Divine Mercy novena which is nine days of prayer. Each day, the prayer is for a different group of people given to us through Saint Faustina from Jesus himself. Can this get any better?
We live in strange times. A time in need of Mercy.
There are tornadoes, earthquakes, locusts, and the coronavirus just to name a few things that have wreaked havoc on our planet recently. My constant prayer is two-fold, “Jesus, I trust in you” and “Have mercy on us and on the whole world!” I do trust Jesus, and as my wise friend said recently on our live-stream, “Maybe this IS God’s mercy!” Maybe this is our opportunity to repent, turn away from sin, forgive others, be merciful and receive God’s mercy. Today and always, I pray God’s mercy over my family and yours and for the whole world.
If you are interested in learning more (and there is SO MUCH MORE), I encourage you to check out thedivinemercy.org.
Image: Kazimirowski Eugeniusz, Divine Mercy, 1934.