Background of the Divine Mercy Devotion

 


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From the diary of a young Polish nun, a special devotion
began spreading throughout the world in the 1930s. The
message is nothing new, but is a reminder of what the
Church has always taught through scripture and tradition:
that God is merciful and forgiving and that we, too, must
show mercy and forgiveness. But in the Divine Mercy
devotion, the message takes on a powerful new focus,
calling people to a deeper understanding that God’s love is
unlimited and available to everyone — especially the
greatest sinners.

The message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy
is based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, an
uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual
director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the
revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before
her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had
begun to spread.

The message of mercy is that God loves us — all of us —
no matter how great our sins. He wants us to recognize that
His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon
Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to
others. Thus, all will come to share His joy. It is a message
we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC.

A — Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach
Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and
asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon
the whole world.

B — Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy
and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to
extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does
to us.

C — Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know
that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our
trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will
receive.

The Divine Mercy Devotion

Devotion to The Divine Mercy involves a total commitment to
God as Mercy. It is a decision to trust completely in Him, to
accept His mercy with thanksgiving, and to be merciful as
He is merciful.

The devotional practices proposed in the diary of Saint
Faustina and set forth in this website are completely in
accordance with the teachings of the Church and are firmly
rooted in the Gospel message of our Merciful Savior.
Properly understood and implemented, they will help us
grow as genuine followers of Christ.

Merciful Heart

There are two scriptural verses that we should keep in mind
as we involve ourselves in these devotional practices:

1. "This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are
far from me" (Is 29:13);

2. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Mt
5:7).

It's an ironic and somewhat frightening fact that many of the
most religious people of Christ's time (people who were
actively practicing their religion and eagerly awaiting the
promised Messiah) were not able to recognize Him when
He came.

The Pharisees, to whom Christ was speaking in the first
quotation above, were very devoted to the prayers, rules,
and rituals of their religion; but over the years, these outer
observances had become so important in themselves that
their real meaning had been lost. The Pharisees performed
all the prescribed sacrifices, said all the right prayers, fasted
regularly, and talked a lot of about God, but none of it had
touched their hearts. As a result, they had no relationship
with God, they were not living the way He wanted them to
live, and they were not prepared for the coming of Jesus.

When we look at the image of the Merciful Savior, or pause
for prayer at three o'clock, or pray the Chaplet — are these
things drawing us closer to the real sacramental life of the
Church and allowing Jesus to transform our hearts? Or have
they just become religious habits? In our daily lives are we
growing more and more as people of mercy? Or are we just
giving "lip service" to God's mercy?

Living the Message of Mercy

The devotional practices revealed through Saint Faustina
were given to us as "vessels of mercy" through which God's
love can be poured out upon the world, but they are not
sufficient unto themselves. It's not enough for us to hang The
Divine Mercy image in our homes, pray the Chaplet every
day at three o'clock, and receive Holy Communion on the
first Sunday after Easter. We also have to show mercy to our
neighbors. Putting mercy into action is not an option of the
Divine Mercy Devotion; it's a requirement!

Our Lord strongly speaks about this to Saint
Faustina:

I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of
love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always
and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to
excuse yourself from it (Diary, 742).

Like the gospel command, "Be merciful, just as your Father
is merciful," this demand that we show mercy to our
neighbors "always and everywhere" seems impossible to
fulfill. But the Lord assures us that it is possible. "When a
soul approaches Me with trust," He explains, "I fill it with such
an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within
itself, but radiates them to other souls" (Diary, 1074).

How do we "radiate" God's mercy to others? By our actions,
our words, and our prayers. "In these three degrees," he tells
Sister Faustina, "is contained the fullness of mercy" (Diary
742). We have all been called to this threefold practice of
mercy, but we are not all called in the same way. We need to
ask the Lord, who understands our individual personalities
and situation, to help us recognize the various ways we can
each show His mercy in our daily lives.

By asking for the Lord's mercy, trusting in His mercy, and
sincerely trying to live His mercy in our lives, we can assure
that we will never hear Him say of us, "Their hearts are far
from Me," but rather that wonderful promise, "Blessed are
the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

It is our hope that you will continue to read and reread the
information on this website and make the prayers, attitudes,
and practices presented a real part of your life, so that you
may come to trust completely in God and live each day
immersed in His merciful love — thus fulfilling the Lord's
command to let your life "shine before people, so that they
will see the good things you do and praise your Father in
Heaven" (Mt 5:16).

 

 

Diary, Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul (c) 1987 Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception, Stockbridge, MA 01263. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
 


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