Our late beloved Pope John Paul the Great introduced the Christian Faithful to the devotion to Jesus called “Divine Mercy” in the Year of our Lord 2000.
In a proclamation that year, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments declared the Sunday following Easter Sunday as “Divine Mercy Sunday,” and in 2002 the Holy See announced an indulgence would be associated with this devotion. This was the highest endorsement of a private revelation the Church can give, as private revelations are not binding on the faithful.
We should not be surprised that Jesus would choose to reveal Himself as “Divine Mercy” because mercy was, in fact, what His Incarnation was all about. He came to earth to rescue humanity from the darkness of our own sin at great cost to Himself, and for the sake of justice He supplied Himself as the Lamb for the final Passover that freed us from the slavery of that sin. What a merciful and benevolent King we have!
The devotion to Divine Mercy is based on the revelations of our Lord to Sister Faustina (Helena Kowalska) of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Cracow, Poland. During her life she was blessed with visions of our Lord and Savior, Who Himself instructed her in the Divine Mercy devotion, and gave her visions of heaven and hell with the aim of saving as many souls as possible. Our Lord instructed St. Faustina to have an image made of Him, with red and white rays emanating from His Sacred Heart, and the words “Jesus, I trust in You” engraved below.
The devotion is based on something called “private revelation.” So what's that? The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines “private revelation” thus:
Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations” (CCC #67).
The Divine Mercy devotion and the associated revelation to St. Faustina have been tested by the Church and found to be beneficial to the faithful, especially because they focus on Jesus Christ and His Infinite Mercy as a way to draw closer to Him.
For me, two aspects of this devotion are most powerful: the “Hour of Mercy” and the inscription on the image (“Jesus, I trust in You”). In her Diary, St. Faustina records the Lord's instructions for prayers during the 3PM hour. He tells St. Faustina to “immerse yourself in My Mercy” during that hour, the very hour He died on the Cross. For me, every 3PM reminds me of my own deficiency, and His great mercy and love. Wherever I am at or near 3PM each day, for a moment, I softly whisper a “Thank You” to Him, and follow it with the words of the Divine Mercy inscriptio, Iesu, in Te Confido.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His mercy endures forever!” (Ps 118:24).
Mickey Addison is a career military officer, and has been a catechist at the parish level since 2000. He and his wife have been married for 19 years and they have two children. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was previously published on the Rosary Army’s website and is used by permission.