The Feast of Divine Mercy and Its Extraordinary Graces
This coming Sunday, March 29, is Divine Mercy Sunday. This feast was instituted by Pope John Paul II in the year 2000, in response to a direct request by the Lord to a Polish nun, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, whom Pope John Paul II canonized that year.
On February 22, 1931, Jesus first appeared to St. Faustina at the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy convent in Plock, Poland.
This is how she describes that vision in her diary: “In the evening, when I was in my cell, I saw the Lord in a white garment. He had one hand raised in blessing and the other was touching his garment at the chest. From the fold in His garment…..there were two large rays: one red and the other pale.” Jesus later told her: “Paint an image according to the pattern you see with the signature Jesus, I trust in You. I desire this image be venerated first in your chapel and then throughout the world.”
The Meaning of the Image
There is a connection between that image and the liturgy of the second Sunday of Easter, the feast of the Divine Mercy. On that day throughout the Church the gospel reading is from St. John about the Risen Christ appearing in the Upper Room and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The rays of blood and water flowing from Our Savior’s pierced heart (not shown in the image) and the scars on His hands and feet recall the events of Good Friday. The pale ray stands for the water which justifies souls, while the red ray stands for the blood, which is the life of souls. It is the sacrament of Baptism and the Sacrament of Reconciliation that purify the soul and the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that most fully nourishes it. Thus, the two rays signify the sacraments and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit of which water is a symbol in Scripture.
The Promises and the Graces
Our Lord promised the grace of eternal salvation to those who venerate this image with complete trust in God and charity for their neighbor: “The soul that venerates this image shall not perish – it shall live forever!”
Here is one of the promises that Our Lord gave to St. Faustina about the feast of Divine Mercy:
“My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter.” Relevance in History
St. Faustina received the message of Divine Mercy between the First and Second World Wars (1930 – 1938). Those who remember and who were witnesses and participants in the events of that time and experienced the horrific sufferings that they caused for millions of people, know just how important it was for all of us to receive the message of Divine Mercy.
Pope Benedict XVI describes what it was like for Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) to live at this time in history. “He lived under two dictatorial regimes, and in contact with poverty, need and violence, he experienced the depths of the power of darkness, which still permeates today’s world.”
Jesus told St. Faustina: “Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy”.
A Gift of Special Enlightenment
This message is just as relevant today as it was at that time. It is not a new message but can be considered a gift of special enlightenment that helps us to relive the Gospel message of Easter more intensely and offer it as a ray of light and hope to the people of our time.
For more information about Divine Mercy and to find devotional items and relevant reading materials, go here.