The Incredible Gift of Divine Mercy
I walked into the Perpetual Adoration Chapel and browsed the library behind it. Most of the time, I wanted a specific devotion to assist my mind in meditation while praying in silence during my hour with Jesus. Immediately, my eye caught a colorful tri-fold about St. Faustina Kowalska’s Christological apparition known as the Divine Mercy Image.
It was the year 2001, and I hadn’t yet heard much of this prayer, but I was drawn to read the pamphlet and decided to sit in the chapel with it. Captivated by St. Faustina’s visions of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, I carried a strong sense within my soul that every word written was true. I had no way of proving it, of course, but from that moment onward, I became a devotee of the Divine Mercy and learned more about how I could honor Jesus through this practice.
First, I prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet daily, trying to center that prayer around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the customary recommendation. Next, I tackled the lengthy tome of St. Faustina’s diary and made notes where certain phrases or locutions struck me. One night I will never forget was a confirmation that praying the chaplet can save souls.
Histoy of Divine Mercy
St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish religious sister, received apparitions and locutions from Jesus and was subsequently instructed by her spiritual director to record everything she saw and heard in a diary. Out of obedience, she did. At one point, she saw the image of Divine Mercy, which Jesus told her was to be publicly known and venerated.
Jesus promised that, whoever would venerate this image would be preserved from eternal damnation. In it, two rays extended from the Heart of Jesus – one white and one red. The colors symbolized the blood and water that gushed from Jesus’ side at the Crucifixion. He also requested the words, “JESUS I TRUST IN YOU” be written on the painting.
From there, several devotions to the Divine Mercy evolved, including the recitation of the Divine Mercy chaplet, participating in the Divine Mercy novena, praying for souls during the 3 o’clock hours, practicing the Works of Mercy, and commemorating Jesus’ mercy on the Sunday following Easter, officially known as Divine Mercy Sunday.
The Power of Divine Mercy
On an ordinary Friday, I was riding in my then-boyfriend’s car as we headed to visit his mom. The time approached 10 o’clock, and the road on which we drove was not well lit, though heavy traffic was common. We passed an intersection and heard a terrible screech and scraping of metal. I saw sparks from my periphery.
Ryan did not hesitate to turn the car around. He knew what happened, though I was confused. “There’s been an accident,” he said. We were the first to arrive on scene. I’d never before witnessed anything so brutal as what I saw that night: a crushed motorcycle laying on its side, a man with no helmet, motionless in a nearby ditch, and a woman so mangled and disfigured (but still breathing) about a hundred feet ahead of us.
A crowd formed around me as I got out of the vehicle. These were curious bystanders, not serious or concerned citizens. Without thinking of anything at all, the words “pray the Divine Mercy chaplet for her soul” clearly came to mind. I knew it was from God, and I returned to the car to privately pray for the woman I didn’t know.
About a week later, I attended the Mass for All Souls and remembered the woman dying on the side of the road. I learned beforehand that she was the mother of Ryan’s younger brother’s best friend, and she had died in the hospital, but her husband had lived. I wrote her name in the Book of Life and offered Mass for her. She weighed heavily on my heart.
After receiving Holy Communion, I saw an image of the woman in my mind’s eye. She was radiant, exuding an ethereal glow, and smiling. She simply said to me, “Thank you.” I knew the Divine Mercy chaplet was instrumental in her salvation somehow, though I wasn’t certain what it all meant. From then on, I prayed the chaplet daily.
Why We Should Celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday
As with any indulgence, the full participation in Divine Mercy Sunday includes reception of the Holy Eucharist (in a state of grace) and attending the Sacrament of Penance within the week preceding or following Divine Mercy Sunday. A plenary indulgence applies to the penitent who also recites prayers related to this Feast.
“Misery attracts [God’s] mercy” is often attributed to St. Faustina, and variations of this message have come from other saints. Considering the power of a soul who humbly approaches Jesus with full contrition for one’s sins, Divine Mercy Sunday is an incredible gift we should all embrace with gratitude.
Not only can we obtain mercy for ourselves through the indulgences offered, but we can also pray continuously for the souls who are suffering without intercession. There are a vast number to whom we can provide consolation through our sincere prayers for their salvation.
The more we approach Jesus’ mercy with confidence that His love for us overrides even the gravest sins for which we are remorseful, the greater the grace we receive.