In the early 20th century, a Polish nun named Sister Faustina Kowalska claimed to have received visions and messages from Jesus Christ himself, in which He revealed to her the concept of Divine Mercy. This revelation eventually led to the establishment of Divine Mercy Sunday, a special day in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church dedicated to the celebration of God’s infinite mercy. Jesus said to Faustina: “I want the first Sunday after Easter to be the Feast of Mercy. I want the Feast of Mercy to be a refuge and sanctuary for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the depths of My mercy are open; I pour out a whole sea of graces on souls that approach the fount of My mercy. Any soul that makes its Confession and receives Holy Communion will have its sins and its punishment completely remitted. On that day are open all the Divine floodgates through which graces flow” (Diary of St. Faustina 299 & 699). These and similar words are repeated in the Diary at least 14 times. Cardinal Franciszek Macharski was the first one to make it part of the liturgical calendar of the Archdiocese of Krakow (1985) and, later, some Polish bishops instituted the feast in their dioceses. In 1995, at the request of the Polish Episcopal Conference, Holy Father John Paul II instituted the feast in all dioceses in Poland. On the day of Sister Faustina’s canonization, April 30th 2000, the Pope instituted the feast for the whole Church.
Sister Faustina’s life was one of extraordinary piety and devotion to God. Born in 1905 in the small town of Glogowiec, Poland, she felt a strong calling to religious life from a young age. In 1925, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw and began a life of prayer, penance, and service to the poor.
It was during her novitiate that Sister Faustina began to experience visions of Jesus, who appeared to her as the merciful Savior, offering forgiveness and compassion to all who sought him. Jesus revealed to Sister Faustina the depths of his love and mercy, and urged her to share this message with the world.
Through a series of visions and messages, Jesus instructed Sister Faustina to promote devotion to the Divine Mercy, particularly through the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the establishment of a feast day in honor of his mercy. He also revealed to her an image of himself as the Divine Mercy, with rays of red and white light emanating from his heart.
Sister Faustina spent the rest of her life promoting devotion to the Divine Mercy and spreading the message of Jesus’ love and mercy to others. She died in 1938 at the age of 33, but her legacy lives on through her writings, which included a diary chronicling her mystical experiences and conversations with Jesus.
In 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Sister Faustina and established Divine Mercy Sunday as a universal feast day in the Catholic Church. This day, which falls on the Sunday after Easter, is a time for Catholics to reflect on the merciful love of God and to seek forgiveness and redemption for their sins.
The celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday includes participation in the Holy Mass, recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and veneration of the image of the Divine Mercy. It is a day of great joy and hope, a reminder of God’s unfathomable love and mercy for all of humanity.
One may ask why we need a reminder of Divine Mercy. St. John Paul II wrote in his encyclical letter Dives in Misericordia that “the present-day mentality, more perhaps than that of people in the past, seems opposed to a God of mercy, and in fact tends to exclude from life and to remove from the human heart the very idea of mercy. The word and the concept of “mercy” seem to cause uneasiness in man, who, thanks to the enormous development of science and technology, never before known in history, has become the master of the earth and has subdued and dominated it. This dominion over the earth, sometimes understood in a one – sided and superficial way, seems to have no room for mercy.”
Present times are times of free market and competition. So the key word is: success. The praise of success comes at us from all sides, it is ubiquitous. This, of course, shapes our lives, the way we think, evaluate ourselves and others. That is why mercy is pushed to the margins of our lives, detached from our heart. And yet a life dedicated only to success is an inhuman life. A life in which charity is merely a form of philanthropy, a luxury that a person can only afford after success, is not a Christian life.
In view of such a situation, the world, and therefore each of us, needs to renew the mystery of the merciful God. We need to experience God’s mercy, because only those who have experienced mercy can share it with others and abide in God’s merciful love. Only when we are able to believe in God’s mercy with all our hearts, will we be able to restore the proper, central place in our lives to the attitude of mercy.
In an increasingly competitive climate, the very notion of fairness is changing. We understand justice more and more impersonally and formally: it is compliance with the applicable law. Such an understanding of justice does not include mercy. On the contrary, mercy begins to be understood as a departure from the principles of justice. The biblical concept of justice, however, is different. The biblical ideal of justice focuses on man, not law. God is first of all just, and mercy is His justice. Then the man who is merciful is considered righteous. A hardened man can in no way be considered righteous, even if he fulfills all the provisions of the law. In the Bible, mercy is the heart of justice. Only mercy is fair to man.
In conclusion, the revelation of Divine Mercy to Sister Faustina Kowalska is a powerful testament to the unending love and compassion of God for all people. Through her experiences, Sister Faustina was able to share the message of God’s mercy with the world, and her legacy lives on through the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday in the Catholic Church. This day serves as a reminder to all of us that no matter how far we may have strayed from God, his mercy is always available to us if we seek it with a contrite heart.