On April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II proclaimed that the Sunday following Easter was to be known as Divine Mercy Sunday. This celebration began with revelations by our Lord to a Polish religious, Sr. Faustina Kowalska, to establish a day dedicated to emphasize God’s overwhelming mercy for His people.
Divine Mercy Sunday is not a new feast established to celebrate St. Faustina’s revelations. Indeed, it is not primarily 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.”
By giving our lives to The Divine Mercy – to Jesus Christ Himself – we become instruments of His mercy to others, and so we can live out the command of the Lord: “Be merciful even as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36). Through revelation to Sister Faustina, Our Lord gave us special means of drawing on His mercy: an Image of The Divine Mercy, a Feast of Mercy (celebrated the Sunday following Easter), a novena, and prayer at the 3:00 o’clock hour – the hour of His death. These special means are in addition to (not in place of) the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation, as well as the other channels of graces that God gives us through His Church.
It is central to the gospel of Jesus Christ that we look to the Father for His mercy. But I fear that too often, we Catholics too easily identify with the tax collector in the back of the temple praying, “Be merciful to me, a sinner.” (Lk 18:13) Or that of St. Peter, “Depart from me, Lord, because I am a sinful man.” (Lk 5:8) Do we believe in His overwhelming mercy for us or does our own sinfulness drive us to feel that we are unworthy or must somehow earn his forgiveness? Can we take to heart the word God spoken to us, “Come now, let us settle the matter. Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like (white) wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) What God most wants of us is to turn to Him with trust. And the first act of trust is: receive His mercy. We trust Him because He is God, and He loves us and cares for us. His mercy is always available to us no matter what we have done.
On this Feast of Divine Mercy, we are all encouraged to confess ourselves in the Sacrament of Reconciliation within the next week, to take Holy Communion, and thereby receive full pardon of our sins. In the revelation to Sr. Faustina, Jesus emphasized over and over again that no person should be afraid to come to Him, regardless of the sin that person has committed. His Mercy is greater than any of our sins.
In the back of the church you will find prayer cards which we encourage you to take and pray this day.