Divine Mercy Sunday originated when Our Lord appeared to Saint Faustina, a humble, Polish sister. During these visions, Jesus asked specifically that the Feast of Divine Mercy be established so that all people would turn to Our Lord and find refuge in him and in his unfathomable mercy.
Jesus told Sister Faustina:
This Feast emerged from the very depths of my mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. Every soul believing and trusting in my mercy will obtain it. Diary 420
He also told her:
“Let all mankind recognize my unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice.” Diary 848
Jesus told Sister Faustina of his great desire to have a Feast of Mercy established on the first Sunday after Easter. He also instructed that the Feast be preceded by a Divine Mercy Novena that begins on Good Friday and ends the day before Divine Mercy Sunday.
The Image of Mercy
During one of the visions, Jesus asked Sister Faustina to paint the image of Divine Mercy pouring forth from his heart:
“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.
In the Divine Mercy image, Jesus is portrayed with one hand outstretched blessing the world, while his other hand rests on the side wounded by the soldier’s spear. From the wound in his side stream blood and water. Below most images of the Divine Mercy are the words, “Jesus I Trust in You.”
When the first image was painted, Sister Faustina cried because the image was not as beautiful as the Jesus who appeared to her. Jesus comforted her by saying,
“Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush is the greatness of his image, but in My grace.”
There are many graces and indulgences associated with Divine Mercy Sunday. Jesus told Saint Faustina that any person who goes to confession (as close as possible to Divine Mercy Sunday) and receives Holy Communion, will obtain forgiveness of ALL sins and the punishment that goes along with them.
Jesus told Sister Faustina:
“I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy” (Diary, 1109).
In June 2002, Pope John Paul II granted indulgences to those who recite an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and prayer for the Pope’s intentions. It is also recommended that a prayer such as, “Jesus, I Trust in You,” be added to the usual recommended prayers.
If the conditions for the indulgence are unable to be met, in some circumstances, it can still be fulfilled by praying the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Creed in front of an image of Jesus, with the addition of “Jesus, I Trust in You.”
Ways to Celebrate the Feast of Mercy
There are many resources to teach children about Divine Mercy. The Mother of Mercy Messengers have many wonderful resources for both adults and children, including worksheets and the DVD “Divine Mercy for Young Hearts.” EWTN has a video for children called “The Divine Mercy Chaplet for Kids” that walks children step-by-step through the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and its history and significance. Celebrating with a magnet of Pope Saint John Paul II, can remind children of the role he played in the spreading of the Message of Mercy.
Part of the day, can involve works of mercy – spiritual or corporal. Jesus explained to Sister Faustina that we can love our neighbors through deed, word, and prayer. He also said,
“I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me.”
Teaching children the importance of works of mercy no matter how small, can help them understand how blessed it is to help others and how even the smallest deeds can help others.
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Jesus taught Sister Faustina the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This simple prayer is extremely powerful. Jesus himself told Sister Faustina,
Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties, obtain for them trust in my mercy, because they have most need of trust, and have it the least. Be assured that the grace of eternal salvation for certain souls in their final moment depends on your prayer. You know the whole abyss of my mercy, so draw upon it for yourself and especially for poor sinners. Sooner would heaven and earth turn into nothingness than would my mercy not embrace a trusting soul” (Diary 1777).
The Hour of Mercy
Divine Mercy is not supposed to be reserved for Divine Mercy Sunday, one day of the year – Divine Mercy Sunday. When Our Lord appeared to Sister Faustina, he told her that 3 pm should be designated as the hour of mercy. It is traditionally held as the hour in which Jesus died on the Cross. Sister Faustina recommended that the following prayer be said, which can also be said at the beginning of the Divine Mercy Chaplet:
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You.”
At this hour, our Lord asked Sister Faustina that the Divine Mercy Chaplet be prayed and the Image of Mercy be venerated. Jesus told Sister Faustina:
“As often as you hear the clock strike the third hour immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it, invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners, for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul.”
Spreading the Devotion
Devotion to the Divine Mercy was spread and promoted by Pope John Paul II. On April 30, 2000, Sister Faustina Kowalska was canonized and given the title “Secretary of Mercy” and the Sunday after Easter was officially designated as Divine Mercy Sunday.
Pope John Paul II died on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday and he was beatified and canonized on Divine Mercy Sunday. He was truly a Pope of Mercy and he used to say:
“Apart from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind.”
There are three main components to the devotion of Divine Mercy: asking for and obtaining the mercy of God, trusting in Christ’s mercy, and showing mercy to others. Divine Mercy Sunday is not just about God’s mercy towards us, but about the mercy we show towards others as well. We are all in need of God’s love and mercy but then we are called to give the love and mercy we receive to others.
“O living Host, my one and only strength, fountain of love and mercy, embrace the whole world, fortify faint souls. Oh, blessed be the instant and the moment when Jesus left us His most merciful Heart!” – The Diary of Saint Faustina, 223