The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion
(taken from Marian.org website)
The message of The Divine Mercy is simple. It is that God loves us — all of us. And, he wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy.
The Divine Mercy message is one we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC:
- A – Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
- B – Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
- C – Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.
This message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread.
The message and devotional practices proposed in the Diary of Saint Faustina and set forth in this web site and other publications of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception are completely in accordance with the teachings of Church and are firmly rooted in the Gospel message of our Merciful Savior. Properly understood and implemented, they will help us grow as genuine followers of Christ.
Spend time to learn more about the mercy of God, learn to trust in Jesus, and live your life as merciful to others, as Christ is merciful to you.
Jesus’ Call to Mercy
“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 or absolve yourself from it.
I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor:?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.
Many souls … are often worried because they do not have the material means with which to carry out an act of mercy. Yet spiritual mercy, which requires neither permissions nor storehouses, is much more meritorious and is within the grasp of every soul.
If a soul does not exercise mercy somehow or other, it will not obtain My mercy on the day of judgment. Oh, if only souls knew how to gather eternal treasure for themselves, they would not be judged, for they would forestall My judgment with their mercy” (1317)
Works of Mercy
Be Merciful as Your Father is Merciful
We are not only to receive the mercy of God, but to use it by being merciful to others through our actions, our words, and our prayers; in other words, we are to practice the Corporal and Spiritual Works (Acts) of Mercy.
The Lord wants us to do these works of mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no use without works.
What are the Works of Mercy?
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Clothe the naked
- Shelter the homeless
- Comfort the prisoners
- Visit the sick
- Bury the dead
Teach the ignorant
Pray for the living & dead
Counsel those in doubt
Console the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently
Forgive wrongs willingly
What is Divine Mercy Sunday?
Among all of the elements of devotion to The Divine Mercy requested by our Lord through St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the Feast of Mercy holds first place. The Lord’s will with regard to its establishment was already made known in His first revelation to the saint, as recorded in her Diary . In all, there were 14 revelations concerning the desired feast.
Our Lord’s explicit desire is that this feast be celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. This Sunday is designated in “The Liturgy of the Hours and the Celebration of the Eucharist” as the “Octave Day of Easter.” It was officially called the Second Sunday of Easterafter the liturgical reform of Vatican II. Now, by the Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the name of this liturgical day has been changed to: “Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday.”
Pope John Paul II made the surprise announcement of this change in his homily at the canonization of St. Faustina on April 30, 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,” Pope 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 fulfills the grace of atonement as lived through by Christ Jesus and offered to all who come to Him with trust.
This connection is evident from the scripture readings appointed for this Sunday. As John Paul said, citing the Responsorial Psalm of the Liturgy, “The Church sings … as if receiving from Christ’s lips these words of the Psalm.” “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His steadfast love (= mercy) endures forever” (Ps 118:1). And then, Pope John Paul II developed the connection further: “[This comes] from the lips of the risen Christ, who bears the great message of Divine Mercy and entrusts its ministry to the Apostles in the Upper Room: ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you. … Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:21-23).
During his homily, John Paul also made clear that the Image of The Divine Mercy St. Faustina saw, which is to be venerated on Divine Mercy Sunday, represents the Risen Christ bringing mercy to the world (see Diary 49, 88, 299, 341, 570, 742). Pope John Paul II said: “Jesus shows His hands and His side [to the Apostles]. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in His Heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity.
“From that Heart, Sr. Faustina Kowalska, the blessed whom from now on we will call a saint, will see two rays of light shining from that Heart and illuminating the world: ‘The two rays,’ Jesus Himself explained to her one day, ‘represent blood and water ‘ (Diary, 299).
“Blood and water! We immediately think of the testimony given by the Evangelist John, who, when a soldier on Calvary pierced Christ’s side with his spear, sees blood and water flowing from it (see Jn 19:34). Moreover, if the blood recalls the sacrifice of the cross and the gift of the Eucharist, the water, in Johannine symbolism, represents not only Baptism but also the gift of the Holy Spirit” (see Jn 3:5; 4:14; 7:37-39).
Clearly, Divine Mercy Sunday is not a new feast established to celebrate St. Faustina’s revelations. Indeed, it is notprimarily about St. Faustina at all — nor is it altogether a new feast! As many commentators have pointed out, The Second Sunday of Easter was already a solemnity as the Octave Day of Easter; nevertheless, the title “Divine Mercy Sunday” does highlight and amplify the meaning of the day. In this way, it recovers an ancient liturgical tradition, reflected in a teaching attributed to St. Augustine about the Easter Octave, which he called “the days of mercy and pardon,” and the Octave Day itself “the compendium of the days of mercy.”
Liturgically the Easter Octave has always been centered on the theme of Divine Mercy and forgiveness. Divine Mercy Sunday, therefore, point us to the merciful love of God that lies behind the whole Paschal Mystery — the whole mystery of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ — made present for us in the Eucharist. In this way, it also sums up the whole Easter Octave. As Pope John Paul II pointed out in his Regina Caeli address on Divine Mercy Sunday, 1995: “the whole octave of Easter is like a single day,” and the Octave Sunday is meant to be the day of “thanksgiving for the goodness God has shown to man in the whole Easter mystery.”
Given the liturgical appropriateness of the title “Divine Mercy Sunday” for the Octave Day of Easter, therefore, the Holy See did not give this title to the Second Sunday of Easter merely as an “option,” for those dioceses who happen to like that sort of thing! Rather, the decree issued on May 5, 2000, by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and The Discipline of the Sacraments clearly states: “the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II has graciously determined that in the Roman Missal, after the title Second Sunday of Easter, there shall henceforth be added the appellation ‘or [that is] Divine Mercy Sunday’…”.
Divine Mercy Sunday, therefore, is not an optional title for this solemnity; rather, Divine Mercy is the integral name for this Feast Day. In a similar way, the Octave Day of the Nativity of Our Lord was named by the Church “The Feast of the Mother of God.”
This means that preaching on God’s mercy is also not just an option for the clergy on that day — it is soundly expected. To fail to preach on God’s mercy on that day would mean largely to ignore the prayers, readings and psalms appointed for that day, as well as the title “Divine Mercy Sunday” now given to that day in the Roman Missal.
Clearly, the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday does not compete with, nor endanger the integrity of, the Easter Season. After all, Divine Mercy Sunday is the Octave Day of Easter, a day that celebrates the merciful love of God shining through the whole Easter Triduum and the whole Easter mystery. It is a day of declaration of reparation for all sin, thus the Day of Atonement.
In His revelations to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, Jesus made mention of His desires concerning the Feast of Mercy (Divine Mercy Sunday) on 14 different occasions. The most comprehensive revelation can be found in entry 699 of the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska:
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 graces 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.
According to the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, Jesus Christ made a special promise, which she was to communicate to the whole world:
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. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy (Diary, 699).
In three places in her Diary, St. Faustina records a promise from our Lord of specific, extraordinary graces He will make available through the devout reception of Holy Communion on this Feast Day; truly a “whole ocean of graces” is contained in these promises:
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 (1109).
Whoever approaches the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment (300).
The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion will obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment (699).
Why would our Lord promise to pour out such extraordinary graces on this particular Feast Day? Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD, the director of the John Paul Institute of Divine Mercy and a columnist for this website, explains inThe Promise and the Liturgical Tradition.
To observe Divine Mercy Sunday properly, one thing we must do is go to confession, preferably before that Sunday. Think of this confession as the big annual “spring cleaning” time for your soul. Once your inner house is all cleaned up, you will be ready to receive the Lord Himself in Holy Communion and enthrone Him in the center of your heart as your King!
Going to Confession is not the only way we should prepare ourselves for Divine Mercy Sunday . As Cardinal Francis Macharski, then Archbishop of Cracow, Poland, explains in a 1985 pastoral letter, we are not simply called to ask for God’s mercy with trust. We are also called to be merciful:
“Our own merciful attitude is likewise a preparation. Without deeds of mercy, our devotion would not be real. For Christ does not only reveal the mercy of God, but at the same time He places before people the demand that they conduct themselves in life with love and mercy. Pope John Paul II states that this requirement constitutes the very heart of the Gospel ethos (Rich in Mercy, 3) — it is the commandment of love and the promise: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’ (Mt 5:7). Let it be a mercy that is forgiving and true, and universal, with good words, deeds, and prayer for others!”
Our Lord’s words to St. Faustina about this requirement to be merciful are very strong and leave no room for misinterpretation:
Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy. … 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 or absolve yourself from it (Diary of St. Faustina, 742).
Thus, to fittingly observe the Feast of Mercy, we should:
• Celebrate the Feast on the Sunday after Easter;
• Sincerely repent of all our sins;
• Place our complete trust in Jesus;
• Go to confession, preferably before that Sunday;
• Receive Holy Communion on the day of the Feast;
• Venerate* the Image of The Divine Mercy;
• 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.
Forms of Devotion
Through St. Faustina, the Merciful Savior has given the aching world new channels for the outpouring of His grace. These new channels include the Image of The Divine Mercy, the Feast of Mercy (Divine Mercy Sunday), the Chaplet, the Novena to The Divine Mercy, and prayer at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the Hour of Great Mercy.
Although these means of receiving God’s mercy are new in form, they all proclaim the timeless message of God’s merciful love. They also draw us back to the great Sacrament of Mercy, the Holy Eucharist, where the living Lord, who suffered and died on the Cross and whose Heart was pierced with a lance, pours forth His mercy on all mankind, and grants pardon to all who draw near and honor Him. As Jesus told St. Faustina:
My Heart overflows with great mercy for souls, and especially for poor sinners…[I]t is for them that the Blood and Water flowed from My Heart as from a fount overflowing with mercy. For them I dwell in the tabernacle as King of Mercy. (Diary, 367)
The Image of The Divine Mercy
In 1931, our Lord appeared to St. Faustina in a vision. She saw Jesus clothed in a white garment with His right hand raised in blessing. His left hand was touching His garment in the area of the Heart, from where two large rays came forth, one red and the other pale. She gazed intently at the Lord in silence, her soul filled with awe, but also with great joy. Jesus said to her:
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. 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, 47, 48). 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 (327). I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world (47).
At the request of her spiritual director, St. Faustina asked the Lord about the meaning of the rays in the image. She heard these words in reply:
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 depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him (299). 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 (742).
These words indicate that the Image represents the graces of Divine Mercy poured out upon the world, especially through Baptism and the Eucharist. Many different versions of this image have been painted, but our Lord made it clear that the painting itself is not what is important. When St. Faustina first saw the original image that was being painted under her direction, she wept in disappointment and complained to Jesus: “Who will paint You as beautiful as You are?” (313). In answer, she heard these words:
Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace(313).
So, no matter which version of the image we prefer, we can be assured that it is a vehicle of God’s grace if it is revered with trust in His mercy.
The Hour of Great Mercy
In His revelations to St. Faustina, Our Lord asked for a special prayer and meditation on His Passion each afternoon at the three o’clock hour, the hour that recalls His death on the cross.
At three o’clock, implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion (Diary, 1320). 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. In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world — mercy triumphed over justice. (1572) My daughter, try your best to make the Stations of the Cross in this hour, provided that your duties permit it; and if you are not able to make the Stations of the Cross, then at least step into the chapel for a moment and adore, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, My Heart, which is full of mercy; and should you be unable to step into the chapel, immerse yourself in prayer there where you happen to be, if only for a very brief instant. (1572)
From these detailed instructions, it’s clear that Our Lord wants us to turn our attention to His Passion at the three o’clock hour to whatever degree our duties allow, and He wants us to ask for His mercy.
In Genesis 18:16-32, Abraham begged God to reduce the conditions necessary for Him to be merciful to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Here, Christ Himself offers a reduction of conditions because of the varied demands of our life’s duties, and He begs us to ask, even in the smallest way, for His mercy, so that He will be able to pour His mercy upon us all.
We may not all be able to make the Stations or adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament, but we can all mentally pause for a “brief instant,” think of His total abandonment at the hour of agony, and say a short prayer such as “Jesus, Mercy,” or “Jesus, for the sake of Your Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
This meditation, however brief, on Christ’s Passion brings us face-to-face with the cross, and, as Pope John Paul II writes in Rich in Mercy, “It is in the cross that the revelation of merciful love attains its culmination” (8). God invites us, the Holy Father continues, “to have ‘mercy’ on His only Son, the crucified one” (8). Thus, our reflection on the Passion should lead to a type of love for Our Lord which is “not only an act of solidarity with the suffering Son of man, but also a kind of ‘mercy’ shown by each one of us to the Son of the Eternal Father.”
The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy
How to Recite the Chaplet
The Chaplet of Mercy is recited using ordinary rosary beads of five decades. The Chaplet is preceded by two opening prayers from the Diary of Saint Faustina and followed by a closing prayer.
1. Make the Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
2. Optional Opening Prayers (first bead)
You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us. O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!
3. Our Father (first of 3 beads)
Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.
4. Hail Mary (second of 3 beads)
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.
5. The Apostle’s Creed (third of 3 beads)
I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
6. The Eternal Father (next single bead)
Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
7. On the Ten Small Beads of Each Decade
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
8. Repeat 6 and 7 for the remaining decades
9. Conclude with Holy God
(Repeat three times)
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
10. Optional Closing Prayer
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.
The Divine Mercy Novena of Chaplets
A novena is typically nine days of prayer in preparation of a celebration of a feast day. At the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy Novena is recited perpetually at the Hour of Great Mercy — the three o’clock hour. The Chaplet can be said anytime, but the Lord specifically asked that it be recited as a novena. He promised, “By this Novena (of Chaplets), I will grant every possible grace to souls.”
Jesus asked that the Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena to the Divine Mercy which would begin onGood Friday. He gave St. Faustina an intention to pray for on each day of the Novena, saving for the last day the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent of whom He said:
These souls cause Me more suffering than any others; it was from such souls that My soul felt the most revulsion in the Garden of Olives. It was on their account that I said: ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by.’ The last hope of salvation for them is to flee to My Mercy.
In her diary, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her:
On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy .. On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls.
First Day (Good Friday)
Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me.”
Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy forever and ever. Amen.
Second Day (Holy Saturday)
Today bring to Me the Souls of Priests and Religious, and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind.
Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service, that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard — upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.
Third Day(Easter Sunday)
Today bring to Me all Devout and Faithful Souls, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. These souls brought me consolation on the Way of the Cross. They were a drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness.
Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy, You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It. We beg this grace of You by that most wondrous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely. Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify Your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.
Fourth Day (Easter Monday)
Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me, I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy.
Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.
Fifth Day (Easter Tuesday)
Today bring to Me the Souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion.
Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son’s Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.
Sixth Day (Easter Wednesday)
Today bring to Me the Meek and Humble Souls and the Souls of Little Children, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.
Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart.” Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father’s favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.
Seventh Day (Easter Thursday)
Today bring to Me the Souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death.
Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:
Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.
Eighth Day (Easter Friday)
Today bring to Me the Souls who are in the prison of Purgatory, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice.
Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.
Ninth Day (Easter Saturday)
Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: ‘Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.’ For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy.
Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.
Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska
Sister Faustina was a young, uneducated, nun in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Cracow, Poland during the 1930’s. She came from a very poor family that struggled on their little farm during the years of World War I. She had only three years of very simple education, so hers were the humblest tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or garden. However, she received extraordinary revelations or messages from Our Lord Jesus. Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to record these experiences, which she compiled in notebooks. These notebooks are known today as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and the words contained within are God’s loving message of Divine Mercy.
Though the Divine Mercy message is not new to the teachings of the Church, Sr. Faustina’s Diary sparked a great movement, and a strong and significant focus on the mercy of Christ. Pope John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina in 2000 making her the “first saint of the new millennium.” Speaking of Sr. Faustina and the importance of the message contained in her Diary, the Pope call her “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.”
Today, we continue to rely of Saint Faustina as a constant reminder of the message to trust in Jesus’ endless mercy, and to live life mercifully toward others. We also turn to her in prayer and request her intercession to our merciful Savior on our behalf. At the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, we include the following in our 3 o’clock prayers:
Saint Faustina, You told us that your mission would continue after your death and that you would not forget us. Our Lord also granted you a great privilege, telling you to “distribute graces as you will, to who you will, and when you will.” Relying on this, we ask your intercession for the graces we need, especially for the intentions just mentioned. Help us, above all, to trust in Jesus as you did and thus to glorify His mercy every moment of our lives. Amen
The Biography of St. Maria Faustina
(August 25, 1905 – October 5, 1938)
(An excerpt from Apostle of Divine Mercy, a biography published by the Vatican.)
Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, an apostle of Divine Mercy, belongs today to the group of the most popular and well-known saints of the Church. Through her the Lord Jesus communicates to the world the great message of God’s mercy and reveals the pattern of Christian perfection based on trust in God and on the attitude of mercy toward one’s neighbors.
Sr. Faustina was born on August 25, 1905 in Glogowiec in Poland of a poor and religious family of peasants, the third of ten children. She was baptized with the name Helena in the parish church of Swinice Warckie. From a very tender age she stood out because of her love of prayer, work, obedience, and also her sensitivity to the poor. At the age of seven she had already felt the first stirrings of a religious vocation. Helen made her first Holy Communion at the age of nine, which was very profound moment in her awareness of the presence of the Divine Guest within her soul. She attended school for three years. After finishing school, she wanted to enter the convent but her parents would not give her permission. Being of age at sixteen, Helen left home and went to work as a housekeeper in Aleksandrów, Lodi, and Ostrówek in order to find the means of supporting herself and of helping her parents.
Helen never lost her desire for a religious vocation. After being called during a vision of the Suffering Christ, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy on August 1, 1925, and took the name Sr. Maria Faustina of the Most Blessed Sacrament. She lived in the Congregation for thirteen years in several religious houses. She spent time at Krakow, Plock and Vilnius, where she worked as a cook, gardener, and porter.
Externally nothing revealed her rich mystical interior life. She zealously performed her tasks and faithfully observed the rule of religious life. She was recollected and at the same time very natural, serene, and full of kindness and disinterested love for her neighbor. Although her life was apparently insignificant, monotonous and dull, she hid within herself an extraordinary union with God.
It is the mystery of the Mercy of God which she contemplated in the word of God as well as in the everyday activities of her life that forms the basis of her spirituality. The process of contemplating and getting to know the mystery of God’s mercy helped develop within Sr. Maria Faustina the attitude of child-like trust in God as well as mercy toward her neighbors.
Sister Faustina was a faithful daughter of the Church which she loved like a Mother and the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. Conscious of her role in the Church, she cooperated with God’s mercy in the task of saving lost souls. At the specific request of and following the example of the Lord Jesus, she made a sacrifice of her own life for this very goal. In her spiritual life she also distinguished herself with a love of the Eucharist and a deep devotion to the Mother of Mercy.
The Lord Jesus chose Sr. Maria Faustina as the Apostle and “Secretary” of His Mercy, so that she could tell the world about His great message, which Sr. Faustina recorded in a diary she titled Divine Mercy in My Soul. In the Old Covenant He said to her:
I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart. (Diary 1588)
In an extraordinary way, Sr. Maria Faustina’s work sheds light on the mystery of the Divine Mercy. It delights not only the simple and uneducated people, but also scholars who look upon it as an additional source of theological research. The Diary has been translated into many languages, among others, English, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Hungarian, Czech, and Slovak.
Sr. Maria Faustina, consumed by tuberculosis and by innumerable sufferings which she accepted as a voluntary sacrifice for sinners, died in Krakow at the age of just 33 on October 5, 1938, with a reputation for spiritual maturity and a mystical union with God. The reputation of the holiness of her life grew as did the cult to the Divine Mercy and the graces she obtained from God through her intercession. In the years 1965-67, the Investigative Process into her life and heroic virtues was undertaken in Krakow and in the year 1968, the Beatification Process was initiated in Rome. The latter came to an end in December 1992.
On April 18, 1993 our Holy Father, John Paul II raised St. Faustina to the glory of the altars. She was canonized on April 30, 2000. St. Maria Faustina’s remains rest at the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Krakow-Lagiewniki.
The years Sr. Faustina spent at the convent were filled with extraordinary gifts, such as revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, the gift of bilocation, the reading of human souls, the gift of prophecy, and the rare gift of mystical engagement and marriage.
The living relationship with God, the Blessed Mother, the angels, the saints, the souls in Purgatory — with the entire supernatural world — was as equally real for her as was the world she perceived with her senses. In spite of being so richly endowed with extraordinary graces, Sr. Maria Faustina knew that they do not in fact constitute sanctity. In herDiary she wrote: “Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God.”
The Mission of St. Faustina:
The mission of St. Faustina was recorded in her Diary which she kept at the specific request of the Lord Jesus and her confessors. In it, she recorded faithfully all of the Lord Jesus’ wishes and also described the encounters between her soul and Him.
Secretary of My most profound mystery, know that your task is to write down everything that I make known to you about My mercy, for the benefit of those who by reading these things will be comforted in their souls and will have the courage to approach Me. (Diary 1693)
• Task One — Reminding the world of the truth of our faith revealed in the Holy Scripture about the merciful love of God toward every human being.
• Task Two — Entreating God’s mercy for the whole world and particularly for sinners, among others through the practice of new forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy presented by the Lord Jesus, such as: the veneration of the image of the Divine Mercy with the inscription: “Jesus, I Trust in You,” the feast of the Divine Mercy celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter, chaplet to the Divine Mercy and prayer at the Hour of Mercy (3 pm). The Lord Jesus attached great promises to the above forms of devotion, provided one entrusted one’s life to God and practiced active love of one’s neighbor.
• Task Three — The third task in Sr. Mary Faustina’s mission consists in initiating the apostolic movement of the Divine Mercy which undertakes the task of proclaiming and entreating God’s mercy for the world and strives for Christian perfection, following the precepts laid down by the Blessed Sr. Mary Faustina. The precepts in question require the faithful to display an attitude of child-like trust in God which expresses itself in fulfilling His will, as well as in the attitude of mercy toward one’s neighbors. Today, this movement within the Church involves millions of people throughout the world; it comprises religious congregations, lay institutes, religious, brotherhoods, associations, various communities of apostles of the Divine Mercy, as well as individual people who take up the tasks which the Lord Jesus communicated to them through Sr. Mary Faustina.
History of the Message and Devotion to Divine Mercy
The Message of the Divine Mercy that Sr. Faustina received from the Lord was not only directed toward her personal growth in faith but also toward the good of the people. With the command of our Lord to paint an image according to the pattern that Sr. Faustina had seen, came also a request to have this image venerated, first in the Sisters’ chapel, and then throughout the world. The same is true with the revelations of the Chaplet. The Lord requested that this Chaplet be said not only by Sr. Faustina, but by others:
Encourage souls to say the Chaplet that I have given you.
The same is true of the revelation of the Feast of Mercy.
The Feast of Mercy emerged from my very depths of tenderness. It is my desire that it solemnly be celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the fount of My Mercy.
These requests of the Lord given to Sr. Faustina between 1931 and 1938 can be considered the beginning of the Divine Mercy Message and Devotion in the new forms. Through the efforts of Sr. Faustina’s spiritual directors, Fr. Michael Sopocko, and Fr. Joseph Andrasz, SJ, and others — including the Marians of the Immaculate Conception — this message began to spread throughout the world.
However, it is important to remember that this message of The Divine Mercy, revealed to St. Faustina and to our present generation is not new. It is a powerful reminder of who God is and has been from the very beginning. This truth that God is in His very nature Love and Mercy Itself, is given to us by our Judeo-Christian faith and God’s self-revelation. The veil that has hidden the mystery of God from eternity was lifted by God Himself. In His goodness and love God chose to reveal Himself to us, His creatures, and to make known His eternal plan of salvation. This He had done partly through the Old Testament Patriarchs, Moses and the Prophets, and fully through His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In the person of Jesus Christ, conceived through power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, the unseen God was made visible.
The Old Testament speaks frequently and with great tenderness about God’s mercy. Yet, it was Jesus, who through His words and actions, revealed to us in an extraordinary way, God as a loving Father, rich in mercy and abounding in great kindness and love. In Jesus’ merciful love and care for the poor, the oppressed, the sick and the sinful, and especially in His freely choosing to take upon Himself the punishment for our sins (a truly horrible suffering and death on the Cross), so that all may be freed from destructive consequences and death, He manifested in a superabundant and radical way the greatness of God’s love and mercy for humanity. In His person as God-Man, one in being with the Father, Jesus both reveals and is God’s Love and Mercy Itself.
The good news revealed through Jesus Christ is that God’s love for each person knows no bounds, and no sin or infidelity, no matter how horrible, will separate us from God and His love when we turn to Him in confidence, and seek his mercy. God’s will is our salvation. He has done all on our behalf, but since He made us free, He invites us to choose Him and partake of His divine life. We become partakers of His divine life when we believe in His revealed truth and trust Him, when we love Him and remain true to His word, when we honor Him and seek His Kingdom, when we receive Him in Communion and turn away from sin; when we are mutually caring and forgiving.
Events in the life and mission of St. Faustina
Helena Kowalska was born in Glogowiec, Poland; the third of ten children living off a small farm and her father’s carpentry work.
August 27, 1905
Helana is baptized at St. Casimirís church in Swinice Warckie.
At the age of seven, Helana hears a voice calling her to religious life.
Helena receives first Holy Communion.
Helena begins her primary education, which lasts only two and a half years.
At age 15, Helena begins domestic work to support her large family.
Helena returns home, announces a desire to enter convent; her parents oppose; she works two years to help support her family.
Helena sees a vision of the scourged Christ who calls her to religious life.
Helena goes to Warsaw to search for a convent, and she works to support herself.
Helena is accepted by the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy; one month later she wants to leave for a stricter order.
April 30, 1926
Helena receives habit and her religious name Maria Faustina.
April 3, 1927
Sr. Faustina experiences spiritual dark night during novitiate.
April 16, 1928
On Good Friday, she is engulfed by the flame of Divine Love.
April 30, 1928
Sr. Faustina makes her first profession of temporary vows.
Newly elected Mother General Michaela Moraczewska is source of help and comfort to Sr. Faustina during her religious life.
Easily adaptable, Sr. Faustina is sent to work at various houses.
February 22, 1931
Sr. Faustina sees a vision of Jesus who tells her to paint His image.
May 1, 1933
Sr. Faustina takes her perpetual vows.
May 25, 1933
Sr. Faustina goes to Vilnius where she receives many mystical experiences and is assisted by Fr. Michael Sopocko, a wise spiritual director.
January 2, 1934
Sr. Faustina visits the artist Kazimirowski, who is to paint the image.
March 29, 1934
Sr. Faustina offers herself for sinners, especially those who lack trust.
The painting of Divine Mercy is completed, but Sr. Faustina does not like it.
Beginning of Sr. Faustina’s illness; she begins writing the Diary under obedience.
April 28, 1935
(Feast of Mercy) Divine Mercy image is publicly venerated in Vilnius for the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Redemption: January 8, 1936. Sr. Faustina informs the Bishop that Jesus requests the founding of an order.
May 11, 1936
Sr. Faustina goes to Krakow; guided by Fr. Andrasz SJ; her health deteriorates.
Holy cards with the Divine Mercy image printed for first time.
Sr. Faustina prepares herself for death, and she asks pardon of the Congregation.
October 5, 1938
Sr. Faustina makes final confession, and dies late in the evening.
October 7, 1938
Funeral of Sr. Faustina, burial at the convent cemetery.
Divine Mercy message spreads first among the victims of WWII.
Fr. Joseph Jarzebowski, MIC, brings the Divine Mercy message to the USA and the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception begins to spread the message in Polish.
The Divine Mercy message spreads worldwide through the efforts of the Marians, who publish images and literature in many languages.
March 6, 1959
Holy Office issues a notification banning Divine Mercy devotion.
October 21, 1965
Informative Process of Sr. Faustina’s life and virtues is opened by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow, encouraged by Cardinal Ottaviani, the Prefect of the Holy Office.
Informative Process closes; Cardinal Wojtyla sends acts to Rome, January 31, 1968. The process of Beatification of Sr. Faustina is inaugurated.
April 15, 1978
Prefect of Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declares the Notification ban no longer binding.
October 16, 1978
Cardinal Karol Wojtyla becomes Pope John Paul II.
July 12, 1979
Marians receive an authoritative explanation of the Notification issued by the Prefect for the Doctrine of Faith stating that no impediments exist in the spread of the message and devotion to the Divine Mercy in the forms proposed by Sr. Faustina.
Marians publish critical edition of Sr. Faustina’s Diary in Polish.
November 30, 1980
Pope John Paul II issues encyclical on the Divine Mercy.
<November 22, 1981
Pope John Paul II visits the Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza near Todi, Italy, stating that, “Right from the beginning of my ministry in St. Peter’s See in Rome, I considered this message (of Divine Mercy) my special task.”
Marians publish critical edition of Sr. Faustina’s Diary in English.
April 10, 1991
Pope John Paul II links the encyclical’s message to Sr. Faustina.
March 7, 1992
Decree of Heroic Virtues of Sr. Faustina is promulgated.
Miracle through intercession of Sr. Faustina is accepted.
April 18, 1993
Sr. Faustina beatified in Rome on Second Sunday of Easter.
Second miracle through Bl. Faustina intercession is accepted.
April 30, 2000
Bl. Faustina is canonized in Rome on Divine Mercy Sunday and Divine Mercy Sunday is proclaimed.
May 5, 2000
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issues a Decree proclaiming the Second Sunday of Easter also as Divine Mercy Sunday.
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments listed the Devotion to the Divine Mercy in its Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines .
April 22, 2001
Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated officially for the first time by the universal Church.
May 13, 2001
Congregation For The Clergy issues a document: “Priest of God, you embody the Mystery of Mercy.”
August 18, 2002
John Paul II consecrates the whole world to the Divine Mercy from The Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Krakow-Lagiewniki, the site of St. Faustina’s tomb.
August 21, 2002
Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary issued on Indulgences attached to devotions in honor of Divine Mercy.
The Marian Connection
The Divine Mercy devotion was brought to the USA from Poland by Fr. Joseph Jarzebowski, MIC, a member of the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception. In 1941, hardly three years after the death of Sr. Faustina, The Divine Mercy devotion was brought to the USA from Poland by Fr. Joseph Jarzebowski, MIC, a member of the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Fr. Jarzebowski had at first been skeptical about the great graces received by those who entrusted themselves to The Divine Mercy. But, in the spring of 1940, he vowed that if he were able to safely reach his fellow Marians in America, he would spend the rest of his life spreading the Divine Mercy message and devotion. Before his departure Fr. Michael Sopocko, St. Faustina’s spiritual director, gave Fr. Jarzebowski materials on Divine Mercy that he prepared. With these materials and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Fr. Jarzebowski set out for the journey.
By 1953, some 25 million pieces of Divine Mercy literature had been distributed around the world. After an extraordinary journey from Poland into Lithuania, then across Russia and Siberia to Vladivostok, and from there to Japan, he arrived on American soil a year later. True to his vow, he immediately began distributing information about the message and devotion with the help of the Felician Sisters in Michigan and Connecticut. His Marian confreres soon became intensely involved as well. After several years of this activity, in 1944 Fr. Walter Pelczynski, MIC, established the “Mercy of God Apostolate” on Eden Hill in Stockbridge, MA, now home of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy and the Marian Helpers Center, a modern, religious publishing house that has become the international center for the Divine Mercy message and devotion. By 1953, some 25 million pieces of Divine Mercy literature had been distributed around the world.
Banned by the Church
Then, in 1958 and 1959, Sr. Faustina’s prophecy about the apparent destruction of the Divine Mercy work (Diary, 378) began to be fulfilled. The Holy See, having received erroneous and confusing translations of Diary entries, which it was unable to verify due to existing political conditions, forbade the spreading of the Divine Mercy message and devotion in the forms proposed by Sr. Faustina’s writings.
During the period of the ban, the Marians continued to spread devotion to God’s mercy, but, in obedience to Rome, they based the message and devotion regarding Divine Mercy on Sacred Scripture, the Liturgy, the teachings of the Church, and Our Lady’s revelations at Fatima.
The Lifting of the Ban
Twenty years later (in 1978), the ban was completely lifted, thanks to the intervention of the Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. Through his efforts, an informative process relating to the life and virtues of Sister Faustina was begun in 1965. Its successful outcome led to the inauguration of her Beatification cause in 1968.
In a new “Notification” on April 15, 1978, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, having reviewed many original documents that were not made available to it in 1959, reversed its earlier decision and declared the 1959 prohibition ‘no longer binding.’ Six months later, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II.
Prompted by the pastoral concern of His Excellency, Joseph F. Maguire, Bishop of Springfield, MA, with regard to the resuming of efforts to make the Divine Mercy message and devotion known, the Congregation of Marians asked for an authoritative explanation of the Notification of 1978. On July 12, 1979, they received a reply from the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation, stating that ‘there no longer exists, on the part of this Sacred Congregation, any impediment to the spreading of the devotion to The Divine Mercy in the authentic forms proposed by the religious Sister mentioned above [Sister Faustina Kowalska].
Thus, in 1979 — with the local bishop’s permission — the Marians resumed their work of spreading the Divine Mercy message and devotion in the forms proposed by Sr. Faustina. The response from laity, priests, and bishops all over the world has been overwhelming, and the devotion has grown faster than anyone ever expected.
Pope John Paul II
The Great Mercy Pope
Pope John Paul II, both in his teaching and personal life, strove to live and teach the message of Divine Mercy. As the great Mercy Pope, he wrote an encyclical on Divine Mercy: “The Message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me… which I took with me to the See of Peter and which it in a sense forms the image of this Pontificate.” In his writings and homilies, he has described Divine Mercy as the answer to the world’s problems and the message of the third millennium. He beatified and canonized Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the nun associated with the message, and he did it in Rome and not in Poland to underscore that Divine Mercy is for the whole world.
In 1981, Pope John Paul II published an encyclical letter entitled Rich in Mercy, in which he speaks of Christ as the “incarnation of mercy — the inexhaustible source of mercy.” He goes on to emphasize that “Christ’s messianic program, the program of mercy” must become “the program of His people, the program of the Church. ”
Throughout the encyclical, the Holy Father stresses that the Church — especially in our modern times — has the “right and the duty” to “profess and proclaim God’s mercy,” to “introduce it and make it incarnate” in the lives of all people, and “to call upon the mercy of God,” imploring it for the whole world. (See Rich in Mercy, 12-15.)
A year after publishing Rich in Mercy, the Pope visited the Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza, Italy, during his first pilgrimage outside Rome after the attempt on his life. There he emphasized that spreading the message of mercy was his “special task.”
On April 18, 1993, Pope John Paul II beatified Sr. Faustina at St. Peter’s Square in Rome. It was the first Sunday after Easter — the very day that is to be celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday, according to the Merciful Savior’s revelations to Sr. Faustina. And it was precisely John Paul II who beatified her, the very one who had initiated the Informative Process for her cause in 1965 when he was Archbishop of Krakow, Poland. The event that contributed to her beatification was Maureen Digan’s miraculous healing. Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, a Marian priest, both witnessed the miracle, as well as assisted in the beatification process by serving as Vice Postulator for her cause.
O Faustina… you were chosen by Christ to remind people of this great mystery of Divine Mercy!
>In his homily, The Holy Father said: “I salute you, Sr. Faustina. Beginning today the Church calls you Blessed”.
O Faustina, how extraordinary your life is! Precisely you, the poor and simple daughter of Mazovia, of the Polish people, chosen by Christ to remind people of this great mystery of Divine Mercy! You bore this mystery within yourself, leaving this world after a short life filled with suffering. However, at the same time, this mystery has become a prophetic reminder to the world.
“I feel certain that my mission will not come to an end upon my death, but will begin,” Sr. Faustina wrote in her diary ( Diary, 281). And it truly did! Her mission continues and is yielding astonishing fruit. It is truly marvelous how her devotion to the merciful Jesus is spreading in our contemporary world and gaining so many human hearts! This is undoubtedly a sign of the times — a sign of our 20th century. The balance of this century which is now ending, in addition to the advances which have often surpassed those of preceding eras, presents a deep restlessness and fear of the future. Where, if not in The Divine Mercy, can the world find refuge and the light of hope? Believers understand that perfectly.
On April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina as the first saint of the Great Jubilee Year.
Once again through the efforts of Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, the second miracle, the healing of Fr. Ronald Pytel, was attributed to Bl. Faustina’s intercession. On April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina as the first saint of the Great Jubilee Year. And again, it was on Divine Mercy Sunday. In fact, the Holy Father also announced during his homily that the Second Sunday of Easter would now be celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday throughout the universal Church.
In his homily, the Holy Father said: “Today my joy is truly great in presenting the life and witness of Sr. Faustina Kowalska to the whole Church as a gift of God for our time. By Divine Providence, the life of this humble daughter of Poland was completely linked with the history of the 20th century, the century we have just left behind.”
“In fact, it was between the First and Second World Wars that Christ entrusted His message of mercy to her. Those who remember, who were witnesses and participants in the events of those years and the horrible sufferings they caused for millions of people, know well how necessary was the message of mercy”.
“Jesus told Sr. Faustina:
Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy.” (Diary, 300)
Through the work of the Polish religious, this message has become linked forever to the 20th century, the last of the second millennium and the bridge to the third. It is not a new message but can be considered a gift of special enlightenment that helps us to relive the Gospel of Easter more intensely, to offer it as a ray of light to the men and women of our time.
What will the years ahead bring us? We are not given to know. But the light of Divine Mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through Sr. Faustina’s charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third Millennium. Sr. Faustina’s canonization has a particular eloquence: … by this act I intend today to pass this message on to the new millennium.”
Establishing Divine Mercy Sunday for the Entire Church
When Pope John Paul canonized Sr. Faustina (making her St. Faustina), he also, on the same day, surprised the entire world by establishing Divine Mercy Sunday (the feast day associated with the message) as a feast day for the entire Church. The feast day falls on the Second Sunday of the Easter season. On that day, Pope John Paul II declared, “This is the happiest day of my life.”
Entrusting the World to Divine Mercy
In 2002, the Pope entrusted the whole world to Divine Mercy when he consecrated the International Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, a suburb of Krakow in Poland. This is where St. Faustina’s mortal remains are entombed. The saint lived in a convent nearby. The Pope himself remembers as a young man working in the Solvay Quarry, just a few meters from the present-day Shrine. He also says that he had been thinking about Sr. Faustina for a long time when he wrote his encyclical on Divine Mercy. Further, the Holy Father has frequently quoted from the Diary of St. Faustina and has prayed The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy at the saint’s tomb.
Given all these connections to Divine Mercy and St. Faustina, is it any wonder that Pope John Paul II died on the Vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday (the evening before the feast day), which fell that year on April 3. It is also no surprise that the Great Mercy Pope left us a message for Divine Mercy Sunday, which was read on the feast day by a Vatican official to the faithful in St. Peter’s after a Mass that had been celebrated for the repose of the soul of the Pope.
Repeatedly Pope John Paul II has written and spoken about the need for us to turn to the mercy of God as the answer to the specific problems of our times. He has placed a strong and significant focus on the Divine Mercy message and devotion throughout his pontificate that will carry the Church long after his death.
Trust – Completely Trust in Jesus
Trust in Jesus is the essence of the message of 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. And 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 Savior 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). On the cross, the fountain of My mercy was opened wide by the lance for all souls — no one have I excluded!(1182). 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” (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 (1578).
In the Diary of St. Faustina, we hear Our Lord reminding us that we can depend upon His love … that He alone is worthy of our trust:
I never reject a contrite heart(1485). Sooner would heaven and earth turn into nothingness than would My mercy not embrace a trusting soul (1777).
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).
God is Mercy itself, and we are called to practice the ABC’s of mercy (Ask for His Mercy, Be merciful to others, Completely trust in Jesus). As we do, our trust in Jesus is the vital ingredient. We don’t simply ask for mercy, nor do we simply try to be good to other people. We ask with complete trust, and Our Lord fills us with grace so that we can be merciful as our Heavenly Father is merciful.
I am Love and Mercy itself. When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls(1074).
Through the passion and death of Jesus, an infinite ocean of mercy was made available for all of us. But God, who created us free, will not 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.
Pope John Paul II echoes this scriptural message with a new urgency for our own times: “At no time… especially at a moment as critical as our own — can the Church forget the prayer that is a cry for the mercy of God… The Church has the right and the duty to appeal to the God of mercy ‘with loud cries’ ” (Rich in Mercy, 15).
To St. Faustina, Jesus revealed this same message 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).Beg for mercy for the whole world (570). No soul that has called upon My mercy has ever been disappointed (1541).
Prayer to be Merciful to Others
This prayer gives us a true measure of our mercy, a mirror in which we observe ourselves as merciful Christs. We can make it our morning invocation and our evening examination of conscience .
• Most Holy Trinity! As many times as I breathe, as many times as my heart beats, as many times as my blood pulsates through my body, so many thousand times do I want to glorify Your mercy.
• I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection, O Lord. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.
• Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue.
• Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.
• Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
• Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
• Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.
• Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful Heart of Jesus. I will bear my own suffering in silence. May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me.
• You Yourself command me to exercise the three degrees of mercy. The first: the act of mercy, of whatever kind. The second: the word of mercy — if I cannot carry out a work of mercy, I will assist by my words. The third: prayer — if I cannot show mercy by deeds or words, I can always do so by prayer. My prayer reaches out even there where I cannot reach out physically.
• my Jesus, transform me into Yourself, for You can do all things (163).