The Importance of the Feast of Mercy
The first revelation of Jesus in His message of Divine Mercy to St. Faustina on 22nd February 1931 was to say how much He desired mankind to avail of the infinite mercy of God on earth and this was why He was establishing the Feast of His Mercy. So, the Feast of Mercy was the first revelation in the message of Divine Mercy and is considered the first and most important element of the whole devotion.
Jesus devoted fourteen revelations in all, more than He devoted to any other element of this devotion because of the importance of the extraordinary graces He desired to give to all souls on this holy day.
In fact, He attached such importance to the Feast of Mercy that in the 43rd revelation, He stated, “I desire that My mercy be worshiped, and I am giving mankind the last hope of salvation; that is, recourse to My mercy. My Heart rejoices in this Feast”. (Diary 998)
First Sunday After Easter
Jesus said it was to be celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. The selection of this day was to indicate that Jesus shows a special close connection between the paschal mystery of our redemption, and the Feast of Mercy and it is partly designed so that we contemplate, on this day, the mystery of our Redemption as the greatest act of Divine Mercy toward mankind.
Saint Faustina also noted this, when in 1935 she wrote: "I see now that the work of Redemption is bound up with this work of Divine Mercy that the Lord desires". (Diary 89)
Celebration of the Feast
With regard to the manner of its celebration, Jesus expressed a number of wishes. Firstly, that the Image of Divine Mercy to be ceremoniously blessed and publicly venerated on the Feast of Mercy. (Diary 49, 341)
Jesus requires not only that the subject of sermons on the Feast of Mercy be on His divine and infinite mercy, but also the unimaginable mercy of His human heart, which is shown above all, in His Passion and death on the cross for He wants that the Feast of Mercy to “a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners”. (Diary 699)
The priest will be able to do justice to this assignment, only if he manages to show the faithful the inconceivable love and mercy of Jesus, both in His Passion and in the entire work of Redemption.
A Second Baptism
Jesus said, "The soul that will go to confession in preparation for this day and receive Holy Communion on the day, shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment" (Diary 699) What exactly does this mean? Canon Rozycki, who was appointed by the Pope John Paul II to analyse the promises of Our Lord in the revelations of Divine Mercy states, “The extraordinary grace promised by Jesus in connection with the Feast of Mercy is something greater by far than a plenary indulgence. A plenary indulgence consists only in the forgiveness of temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven; it is never the forgiveness of sins themselves”.
He also went on to say, “The remarkable grace promised by our Lord on the Feast of Mercy is the same as a second Baptism. Now the Sacramental grace of Baptism if received by an adult, is not only the removal of original sin from their soul, but also the removal of all personal sins committed since birth, and any punishment due to them”.
So the soul who receives this special grace on the Feast of Mercy is the same as an adult who is baptised for the first time and receives the grace of having their soul cleansed through the sacrament of Baptism.
Confession in Preparation
According to Canon Rozycki, this grace takes place when you receive Holy Communion on the Feast of Mercy, provided that you have made a good confession in preparation and that your soul is in a state of grace.
But it is obvious that in order to receive this extraordinary grace, the confession you make in preparation for the Feast of Mercy must not only be a good one, but in fact, must also be the expression of the fulfilment of the basic requirement of the Divine Mercy devotion. You must have full trust in God’s mercy, you must have repentance, you must make atonement where necessary and you must forgive all others who have offended you.
If confession is just some kind of performance and not accompanied by trust in God’s Mercy, repentance, atonement, and forgiveness, instead of drawing Divine Mercy, could draw Divine Wrath upon the head of the participant, because it would then be a complete contradiction of Devotion to the Divine Mercy.
Telling Others about the Feast
Jesus requests also from us, that if we know what great graces are offered on the Feast of Mercy and the conditions they can be obtained under, then there is an onus on us to make this known, to the best of our ability, and to seek to provide for the spiritual good of others.
Jesus said, “I yearn for souls, My daughter. On the day of My feast, the Feast of Mercy, you will go through the whole world and bring fainting souls to the spring of my mercy. I shall heal and strengthen them”. (Diary 206)
Jesus said, "On this day the very depths of My tender mercy are open; I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who will approach the fount of My mercy on this day. On this day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened. Therefore, Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet" (Diary 699)
The Feast of Mercy is the most important day of the year within the devotion to Divine Mercy. Jesus offers us extraordinary graces on this special holy day, a new feast day within the church. It is akin to a second baptism and a complete cleansing of our souls, a grace we will probably never fully comprehend. We must take seriously the conditions for receiving the graces offered to us on the Feast of Mercy and make every effort to meet the requirements for receiving these unfathomable graces on the Feast of Mercy. We must remember that the Feast of Mercy is a gift from God to mankind and He wishes everyone to avail of His mercy so that all will be saved. We should be immensely grateful to Jesus for the kindness and goodness He shows us on this truly unique and special Feast of God’s infinite mercy.
Introduction to the Chaplet of Mercy
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a truly special and holy prayer because it was created by Jesus for mankind. He revealed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to a Polish nun called St. Faustina through a series of visions and inner locutions in 1935, while she was living in Vilnius, Lithuania. Between 1935-1938, Jesus demonstrated to her the unlimited power of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy through a number of extraordinary miracles and events. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is not restricted to any set of intentions or petitions. Jesus showed St.Faustina the power of the Chaplet by teaching her that the Chaplet even had the power to change the weather conditions in the area where she lived. (Diary 1197) It is reasonable to believe that He did this to demonstrate the boundless power of this new prayer. Jesus explained to her that He would grant unimaginable graces to those who prayed the Chaplet once their petition was compatible with His Divine Will. (Diary 1731)
Even though it is absolutely true that the power of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is not restricted in any way, it is also true that it does have a central purpose within the Devotion to Divine Mercy. This main purpose is to save dying sinners. In the sections of the Diary where St.Faustina records her experiences of praying the Chaplet, the vast majority of these entries reference occasions where she was requested by Jesus to pray the Chaplet for a dying sinner. Jesus revealed to her that praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for a dying soul appeases the Just Anger of God and allows Him to defend the soul against the Divine Justice of God as the soul dies. It was though this revelation which Jesus chose to make known this new prayer to the world. (Diary 811)
Jesus introduced the Chaplet of Divine Mercy through a vision granted to St. Faustina. In the vision, St. Faustina saw the Angel of Divine Wrath who was ready to send the just punishments of God to a specific country. St. Faustina deliberately does not mention this country but it is clear that she was aware of how the activities of this country incurred the Divine Justice of God. St. Faustina records that she was brought before the Holy Trinity at which time she began to plead for mercy for mankind with a prayer she heard interiorly, a prayer she had never heard before. She observed that as she was praying this special prayer, the Angel of Divine Wrath was unable to carry out his task of sending the just punishments of God to earth. The following day, as she entered the Chapel, Jesus spoke to her and explained that the main purpose of Chaplet of Divine Mercy is to appease the Just Anger of the Holy Trinity.
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a fascinating prayer and how Jesus chose to reveal it to us is even more fascinating. On the one hand, Jesus shows us the terrifying power of the Just Anger of God. It is a warning to us that this aspect of God is a reality and we should never become complacent about sin or our earthly journey to Heaven. But more than that, it is a symbol of God’s inextinguishable desire to forgive us and heal us of the wounds of our sins. It is a true sign of God’s Mercy for He gives the sinner a means to disarm His Justice and seek mercy when he doesn’t deserve it. This prayer offers us an insight into the incomprehensible workings of the mercy of God. Our sins rightly deserve to be punished but God has chosen to give us a prayer which will prevent Him from punishing us and ask Him to forgive us and to heal us. In human terms, it is completely out of sync with our natural inclination towards strict justice and our unwillingness to forgive those who have offended us.
But the Chaplet shows us that this is not the case with God. It shows us that through this prayer, we can obtain mercy for ourselves, our family and friends, our communities, our country and even the whole world. It also offers us an incomparable means to pray for our personal intensions in a way which, in the past, was probably restricted to the prayers of the great saints like Padre Pio, St. Anthony and St. Theresa of Avila.
The Chaplet offers God a gift that is so holy and so sacred that no human offering could ever compare. It is an offering of the perfect love of Jesus. Some priests have even likened this prayer to Holy Mass, insofar as, at Mass, we also offer God the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus to the Father in atonement for the sins of mankind. Obviously, the fundamental difference between Mass and the Chaplet is that we don’t physically receive the Eucharist every time we pray the Chaplet, but the offering is similar, and it is a spiritual communion, as oppose to a physical communion. The paragraphs in the Diary which refer to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy clearly demonstrate that this prayer maybe the most powerful prayer that has ever existed, with the exception of the Mass and the Holy Rosary.
But there are more reasons why Jesus gave this Chaplet to mankind other than just a powerful means to seek forgiveness and seek answers to our everyday prayers. It is predominantly to be used for the salvation of souls, but it is also a symbol of the second coming of Jesus. Jesus has revealed that through the recitation of the Chaplet, we can save souls who are not even in the same country as us or whom we never met. We are simply praying for the salvation of any soul who is dying. That is why Jesus asked that a new religious order be founded who would continuously pray the Chaplet for the souls of dying sinners, because it will offer a continuous defence for any souls who might be dying unprepared in any part of the world.
This fact shows that Jesus plans, through this devotion, to save every soul. But the Chaplet is also a symbol of the second coming of Jesus. He told St. Faustina that the Chaplet was a “sign for the end times” and He also told her that “a spark” (Pope John Paul II) would come from Poland to prepare the world for the second coming of Christ, which is Judgement Day. (Diary 848, 1732) He implored St. Faustina to tell the world about the Chaplet of Divine Mercy so that they could obtain mercy before this day. But hidden in these messages is His message to us, for He knew that we would all read the Diary in the future. Jesus is revealing to us that this devotion is to prepare the world for Judgement Day and it is through the Chaplet, He wishes that an incalculable number of souls might be saved before this appointed time.
Some would have us believe that the world we live in is the greatest period of time which has ever existed but this is a secular view. From a Christian perspective the levels of sin in the world is incomparable with any other time. Our natural resources are depleting rapidly and most of the world don’t have access to clean water or air. It is estimated that approximately 500,000 children, young girls and women have been kidnapped by the world’s mafia’s for sex trafficking. The Prolife movement estimate that since the 1960s approximately 80 million people have been aborted and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight to this atrocity. Approximately 4 billion people live on less than $1 per day, with millions more dying every year due to preventable illnesses. The world’s armies continue to build and test nuclear bombs and dozens of countries have experienced the terrors of war in the past 20 years. This is the heartbreaking reality of the modern world.
Even in western society, where the Church has all but been fully removed from active participation in society, an incalculable number of people are suffering from illnesses like depression and similar problems and there is a large inequality between the rich and the poor. Adding to this is the unrestricted onslaught of the world’s media to use our sexuality to market products and distort the true value of human sexuality. It also raises to the throne of mankind the supremacy of celebrities which indirectly causes untold sufferings in the hearts of ordinary people making them feel inadequate and inferior. The relentless marketing of products and of the ‘perfect human being’ is raising people’s levels of desire to unreachable and insatiable heights which in turn leads to unnecessary levels of unhappiness both with the person, marriages and families.
Without doubt, Jesus revealed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to mankind to give them a means to combat these evils through their prayers. He revealed the power of the Chaplet to us so that we could know that it has no restriction other than that our petitions must be in line with the Divine Will of Jesus. But also, it is to save the souls of those who are willingly or unwittingly adding to this destruction. But it is clear that Jesus will’s that their souls should be saved. Although we can all play our part by volunteering for charities, writing letters of complaint to TV stations and making donations, over and above that we can play a spiritual role by praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy continuously for the souls of the dying, which is what Jesus desires we do.
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy, while being a simple prayer is structure, is anything but a simple prayer in nature. Jesus has made a number of beautiful promises to those who would pray the Chaplet in the spirit in which it was created, but even if these promises did not exist, we should still be generous enough to incorporate the continuous recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy into every moment of our lives, so that our prayers become a continuous petition to God for mercy for every dying soul and all of mankind. It is to this level of holiness that Jesus is calling us through this new devotion to Divine Mercy. It is not simply good enough to pray the Chaplet and attend the Feast of Mercy. We must become inspired by this devotion and it’s calling must transform us so that we will be counted as an apostle of Divine Mercy, like St. Faustina.