The Revelations of Our Lord
to St. Faustina
According to the doctrine of the Church we must distinguish
between those matters communicated by God through the prophets, the
apostles and the other sacred writers, and found in Sacred Scripture
and Sacred Tradition, and the private revelations or apparitions He
grants to individuals. These latter are given for our guidance,
usually refer also to things in Public Revelation which must be
believed, but in and of themselves are not of the faith. The
revelations given to St. Faustina are private revelations about the
Divine Mercy. As with most approved private
revelations, much is simply the repetition in a new way of the
perennial truths of the Catholic Faith. Other elements have a prophetic
content, or make promises or requests, which depend entirely on the
credibility of the witness, Sister Faustina.
A private revelation could obtain no higher degree of human
credibility, the standard of reason applied by the Church, as one in which the mystic is canonized and the requests are
acted upon by the Holy See. No one today disputes the devotion to
the Sacred Heart, for example, which is now well-founded in
Tradition, even though the impetus for its specific theological development was
a private revelation. The same is true of the Mercy Devotion. The
Pope in his prophetic office has sounded many of the same warnings
as St. Faustina, as he has of Our Lady of Fátima. Nonetheless,
may be imprudent or unreasonable to not accept the specific promises
and warnings of St. Faustina, given the authentication of her life
and message by the Church, it is not contrary to the faith. The conscience
of each must nonetheless judge, avoiding both blind credulity and
incredulity. As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, "Virtue is in the
middle." Or, as St. Paul says, "Test all things, retain what is
good" (1 Thes. 5:21).
The Feast of Mercy
One of the requests of Our Lord which the Church has acted upon
is the Feast of Mercy. On 30 April 2000, at the
Canonization of Sr. Faustina, the Pope responded to this request by establishing on the Sunday after Easter a Feast dedicated
to the Divine Mercy. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the
Discipline of the Sacraments officially notified the world's Bishops
of this decree on 23 May 2000. Today, the liturgical
calendar, or Ordo, of all dioceses in the world now reflect that the Sunday
after the Solemnity of Easter is the "Second Sunday of Easter
or Divine Mercy Sunday".
Some confusion exists over the fact
that this day is not officially called "The Feast of
Mercy". Feast can be understood in two senses, as a liturgical
class, or as a general way for referring to all special days
regardless of their liturgical class.
According to the first sense, liturgical class, Mercy Sunday
is a Solemnity, the highest possible liturgical class (solemnity,
feast, memorial, optional memorial). Beginning with Easter
Sunday, the Solemnity of Solemnities, the Church celebrates an
octave (8 days) of the Resurrection. This practice
goes back to the Old Covenant and the Jewish practice of celebrating
feasts, such as Unleavened Bread (of which Passover is a part),
for eight days. Each day of the Octave is a Solemnity, in
essence an extension of Easter Sunday. The principal prayers of
the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours are those of Easter
Sunday. This octave concludes with the Gospel account of Easter
night, in which Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Penance, that
is, of His Divine Mercy.
According to the general sense of feast, it is legitimate
to refer to Divine Mercy Sunday as the Feast of Mercy, even
though it is a Solemnity. A feast is the celebration of
a saint or a special day. Regardless of liturgical class, we refer
to a saint's day as his or her feast day. Thus, it is
appropriate here, too, to speak of the Feast of Mercy, or Easter, or
Pentecost, all of which are Solemnities.
According to St. Faustina, Our Lord
promises to those who go to confession and communion on this
day, the remission of the guilt
and the punishment of sins.
On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy.
The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and
punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.
(Diary of Sr. Faustina, 699)
Many take this to mean that they must go to Confession ON Mercy
Sunday. This is not true. To receive the benefits of the Promise one
must be in the state of grace. The Lord does not promise the
absolution of grave sin on Mercy Sunday, but points us to the Sacrament
of Penance. To receive the grace we should be disposed. This is done
by a confession near the time of Mercy Sunday. According to the
Cardinal of Krakow, the confession which a Catholic makes during
preparation for Easter is sufficient. Priests do not have to provide
confession on Mercy Sunday so that Catholics can satisfy this
condition. Since it is a
Sunday the condition of Communion can be easily satisfied (including
at the Saturday Vigil Mass). Our Communion, as our Confession,
should be especially devout.
Some refer to this grace as a Plenary Indulgence. While the effect is
the same, complete remission of sin
and the punishment due to it, it is not granted by the Church but by
a promise of the Lord. Also, the conditions are fewer, only Confession and
Communion. While the Lord also asks for veneration of His Image on
Mercy Sunday, as well as acts of mercy, these do not appear to be
essential to the Promise, though they certainly could manifest the disposition,
or lack of disposition, of the person seeking it. The receipt of the
grace is not magic, but necessarily involves the opening of our
hearts to mercy. This is best done by deeds, words and thoughts of
mercy towards others. That, too, takes God's grace, but we can surely
expect the actual graces to be merciful available to us on Mercy
Sunday, if we but trust. The message clearly states the
Lord's willingness for the greatest generosity on this day. We do
what our circumstances permit us, and trust in God. This is true
also of those whose circumstances do not permit them to get to
Communion on that day, such as the infirm and the home-bound. God
does not ask the impossible.
I want the image solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it.
The Holy See has not obliged anything in this
regard. Indeed, whatever a parish does beyond the liturgical celebration
of the Divine Mercy is regulated by the bishop and the pastor.
However, there are several ways that a willing pastor can facilitate
the public veneration of the Image of the Divine Mercy.
1. A parish which has just acquired the
Image of the Divine Mercy for public veneration should have it
blessed according to the rite for the “Blessing of an Image of
Our Lord” (Book of Blessings, 1263-1276). Every parish should
have this ritual book. This rite, however, may not be used within
the Mass. Such a solemn blessing would be conferred only once on
a particular Image.
2. A previously
blessed image can be displayed in the Sanctuary during Mass. There
is already in the rubrics the provision for incensing an image
during the incensations of the Mass.
3. A previously
blessed image can be left in the sanctuary for veneration by the
faithful throughout the Feast of Mercy.
4. A previously
blessed image can be used in processions, be the object of
veneration during a communal recitation of the Chaplet of Mercy,
or other devotions as the parish may celebrate during the Feast of
Similar things can be done in the home also,
privately venerating the Image, by the use of devotional candles,
by a public display of the Image, family prayer,
etc… These images should also be blessed. However, they do not
receive the solemn blessing of an image used for “public
veneration” (#1 above), just the simply blessing ordinarily
given to religious objects (Book of Blessing 1442ff). This
could even be done communally, if the pastor is willing.
For more questions and answers, please see the FAQ of the
Marians of the Immaculate Conception, who are responsible for
promoting the Divine Mercy throughout the world.
See also EWTN's Divine Mercy mini-site: