Ciao. My name is Crystal and I am the Religious Education Director at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Denver. I want to share with you something that is very near and dear to my heart: Divine Mercy.

I had never heard of Divine Mercy until a few years ago when my mother-in-law was visiting from Italy. She gave me a pamphlet about Saint Maria Faustina and her visions of hell. This pamphlet was in Italian so I had to ask my husband to translate it for me. As he was reading, I was mesmerized and set out to learn more about this nun and her writings. I didn’t know where to begin and, as often times happens to me, God showed me the way. About the same time, a couple of books had been donated to the Religious Education program and, among those donated books, was a copy of Saint Faustina’s Diary. I took the diary home and began to read. I could not put it down. I read it from cover to cover and bought my own copy and just about everything else I could get my hands on about Saint Faustina and Divine Mercy. As you can imagine, I have quite a collection. In the pages of that diary, I found the limitless love and mercy God has for each of us, especially those most unworthy of His mercy. Now, I already know God is merciful and that His love is limitless. After all, His only Son died on the cross for all of us, but there is something about the words Jesus instructed Saint Faustina to write that is awe-inspiring. I fell in love with Divine Mercy.

 

A Brief History

Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska was born in Poland in August 1905 to a poor family. She had only a third grade education when she became a nun. Mother Superior of the convent where she lived said, “She [Saint Faustina] was no one special with no discernible qualities.” In fact, the other nuns living with her often ridiculed her and labeled her as lazy. No one knew that Jesus had chosen Saint Faustina to be His secretary and that He would appear to her and instruct her to keep a diary that would bring His Divine Mercy to a very troubled world. Saint Faustina recorded her mission in that diary, wrote down all of our Lord’s wishes, and described the encounters between her soul and Him. Consumed by tuberculosis and innumerable sufferings, which she offered for poor sinners, Saint Faustina died in Cracow at the age of 33 on October 5, 1938.

Even before her death, devotion to Divine Mercy began to spread and became a refuge for those caught up in World War II. In 1941, a priest brought Divine Mercy to the United States; but, as was foretold in Saint Faustina’s diary in 1959, the Church banned devotion to Divine Mercy. Twenty years later however, the ban was lifted thanks in large part to the Archbishop of Cracow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who later became Saint Pope John Paul II, also known as the Divine Mercy Pope. Saint Pope John Paul II would canonize Saint Faustina on April 30, 2000. That day just happened to be the second Sunday of Easter. He announced that the second Sunday of Easter would be celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday throughout the universal church. Divine Mercy is now celebrated on the Sunday after Easter as our Lord requested.

Receiving Graces

I believe that our Lord, in His great mercy, is giving us yet another opportunity to reconcile with Him. Divine Mercy Sunday is that opportunity. Jesus promises that those of us who participate on that day will receive great graces and forgiveness of sins. To prepare ourselves for Divine Mercy we must do the following:

  1. Repent for all our sins and make a good Confession before that Sunday. Review your sins and express true sorrow for those sins, hatred of those sins, and a firm resolution not to sin again. A great way to accomplish this is to review the Ten Commandments. Remember, actual sin is the sin we ourselves commit. There are two kinds of actual sin, venial and mortal. Venial sins are those sins that we sometimes commit without thought. An example would be a white lie. A mortal sin is very serious and should be confessed immediately. A mortal sin involves the knowledge that one is about to commit a serious sin, one has sufficient understanding of what is about to happen, and one has the freedom of will and acts of one’s own accord. Next, we go into the confessional or face-to-face with a priest and confess those sins we have committed. Another thing to remember is that Jesus is present during Confession. Once sins have been confessed and an act of contrition is made, the priest will grant absolution (forgiveness) and give penance. Penance is an act which we do after leaving the confessional to show God we are truly sorry for our sins and that we will make every effort not to sin again.
     
  2. Receive Holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday. This must be a worthy Communion, meaning a good Confession has taken place prior to receiving Jesus. It is also accompanied by complete trust in Divine Mercy.
     
  3. Venerate the image of the Divine Mercy. Our Lord appeared to Saint Faustina in a vision clothed in a white garment with His right hand raised in blessing. His left hand was touching His garment near His heart, from which two large rays came forth, one red and the other white. Our Lord said to Faustina, “Paint an image according to the pattern you see here with the signature: Jesus, I trust in you. I promise the soul that will venerate this image will not perish” (Diary 47, 48). Saint Faustina then asked what the two rays meant. Jesus replied, “The white beam represents the water that cleanses and purifies the soul, the red, the blood that gives new life to souls” (Diary 299).  To venerate simply means to perform some act or make some gesture of deep religious respect toward the object because of the person it represents – in this case, our most merciful Savior.
     
  4. Be merciful to others through actions, words, and prayers. Our Lord’s promise to us on the feast of Divine Mercy is that He will grant complete forgiveness of sin and punishment. His exact words are, “The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion will obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment” (Diary 699).

 

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

Jesus also requested that we pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which can be prayed on regular rosary beads. This is a powerful chaplet! Saint Faustina once had a vision of an angel sent by God to punish a certain city. She began to pray for mercy, but her prayers were powerless. Suddenly, she saw the Holy Trinity and felt the power of Jesus’ grace within her. At the same time, she found herself pleading with God for mercy with words she heard internally: “Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and the Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” (Diary 474-476). As she continued to pray this prayer, the angel became powerless and could not carry out the deserved punishment. In fact, Jesus asks us to pray this chaplet and meditate on His passion at 3:00pm each day. Jesus said, “This is the hour of great mercy, in this hour I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request on Me in virtue of My Passion” (Diary 1320).

 

 

Conclusion

All that is required of us to obtain God’s great mercy is to want it, to ask for it, and above all, to trust in His Divine Mercy. Jesus waits for us! We should not ever be afraid to approach Jesus and ask for His mercy. No matter what we’ve done, He is willing to forgive us if only we ask for it with a pure heart. Many parishes are celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday with the recitation of the Chaplet, Mass, and Confession. Here at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we will sing the Chaplet at 6:30am on Sunday April 28th followed by our 7:00am Mass. It is my hope that all will take advantage of God’s love and mercy by attending a celebration. I ask God to bless you and keep you always in His constant care and protection. Thank you.

– Crystal Peccia, DRE