Catholics have been celebrating the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday ever since John Paul II declared it on April 30, 2000, during the Canonization Mass of St. Faustina Kowalska. 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.” Often referred to as the Pope of Divine Mercy, John Paul II understood it to be “the Easter gift that the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers humanity at the dawn of the Third Millennium.”
The Message of Divine Mercy was shared by Jesus with a young polish sister named Sr. Mary Faustina Kowalska before her death in 1938. In these private revelations Jesus shared with the future saint his message for the world; one of mercy and trust in him. The entirety of the messages of Divine Mercy can be read in St. Faustina’s diaries.
Jesus asked her to write down his words for the whole world so all could come to know his love and mercy and to trust in him. Among some of the things Jesus shared and asked for in his conversations with St. Faustina, were an image of himself (what we now know as the image of Divine Mercy) with the words “Jesus I Trust in You” written on the bottom, and a Feast of Divine Mercy on the low Sunday (1st Sunday) after Easter.
The happiest day of John Paul II’s life
It is no coincidence that another Polish saint-in-the-making would be the one to bring Jesus’s wishes to fulfillment. Pope John Paul II declared Faustina a saint and declared Divine Mercy Sunday on what he described was “the happiest day of his life.”
Some twenty years earlier he had written an encyclical on mercy, Dives in Misericordia, in which he said, “A no less important need in these critical and difficult times impels me to draw attention once again in Christ to the countenance of the Father of Mercies and God of all comfort.”
No doubt, his encyclical on mercy was prophetic as John Paul II even quoted it in his declaration of Divine Mercy Sunday and the indulgences available to the faithful on that day.
“The paschal mystery is the culmination of this revealing and effecting of mercy, which is able to justify man, to restore justice in the sense of that salvific order which God willed from the beginning in man, and through man, in the world.”
It is not surprising that Pope St. John Paul II entered Eternal Life on the Eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, after the vigil had begun and that his last written words were a homily he had wanted to deliver on that special Sunday in a church dedicated to God the Father of mercy. John Paul II was canonized, along with Pope St. John XXIII, on Divine Mercy (April 27) of 2014.
The Plenary Indulgence of Divine Mercy Sunday
As requested by Jesus, John Paul II had the Decree of Indulgence promulgated by the Apostolic Penitentiary officially on June 29, 2002. In part, it says:
And so with provident pastoral sensitivity and in order to impress deeply on the souls of the faithful these precepts and teachings of the Christian faith, the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, moved by the consideration of the Father of Mercy, has willed that the Second Sunday of Easter be dedicated to recalling with special devotion these gifts of grace and gave this Sunday the name, “Divine Mercy Sunday” (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Decree Misericors et Miserator, 5 May 2000).
To ensure that the faithful would observe this day with intense devotion, the Supreme Pontiff himself established that this Sunday be enriched by a plenary indulgence, as will be explained below, so that the faithful might receive in great abundance the gift of the consolation of the Holy Spirit. In this way, they can foster a growing love for God and for their neighbor, and after they have obtained God’s pardon, they in turn might be persuaded to show a prompt pardon to their brothers and sisters.Read More: https://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/decree.htm
Devotion to Divine Mercy
Devotion to Divine Mercy is spreading across the globe. More and more parishes are displaying the image of Divine Mercy as Jesus requested. The recitation of the chaplet of Divine Mercy is becoming more commonplace and understood.
Parishes around the world have begun and are continuing new traditions on Divine Mercy Sunday, fulfilling Jesus’s requests and the conditions for the plenary indulgence. None of this would be possible if it were no for the faith of St. Faustina Kowalska and the the saintly Polish Pope of Divine Mercy, John Paul II. May they pray for us and continue to teach us to say “Jesus, I trust in You!”
To learn how to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, CLICK HERE.