The Great Promise of Divine Mercy Sunday

Eastertime

It is a wonderful time of year.  Spring is here and the opening day of baseball. The weather is becoming nicer and the days longer. Lent has given way to Easter, and the Octave of Easter gives way on the following Sunday to “Divine Mercy Sunday.” It is another great reason to love the season.  But, what is so great about Divine Mercy Sunday?

The Promise

Divine Mercy Sunday may be the greatest day of the year because of the immeasurable amount of grace Jesus promised to pour forth on this day.  In the private revelation accepted publicly by the Church, Jesus made a specific promise to Saint Faustina about Divine Mercy Sunday:

“On that day . . . The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” (Diary, 699)

Conditions

Christ wanted to draw our attention to the immense importance of these two sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion.  So much so, that Christ’s promise amounts to offering the graces of a complete pardon, or essentially a second baptism!

Jesus reiterated these conditions and promise of a complete pardon at least two other times to her. (Diary, 300 & 1109)  The “oceans of grace” available to us on Divine Mercy Sunday can make us anew and give us a fresh start again.  We simply have to make a good Confession (such as the Saturday before) and stay in a state of grace up to receiving Holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday or the vigil Mass.  Jesus requested we also do works of mercy whether deed, word, or prayer.

Opposition

But, the devotion was not always so. Initially, the Vatican had received erroneous and confusing translations of Sister Faustina’s Diary, and in 1959, censured the devotion and banned her writing.  The ban would last 20 years, seemingly fulfilling a prophetic writing in the Diary that her work would “be as though utterly undone.”

In 1965, Karol Wojtyla, the Archbishop of Krakow at the time, commissioned one of Poland’s leading theologians, Fr. Ignacy Rozycki, to prepare a critical analysis of the Diary.  Then, on April 15, 1978 , after receiving Fr. Rozycki’s analysis and a better translation of the Diary, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith lifted the ban.

The Congregation’s Nihil Obstat stated: “there no longer exists, on the part of the Congregation, any impediment to the spreading of the devotion to The Divine Mercy in the authentic forms proposed by the Religious Sister [Faustina].”  Years later, on April 30, 2000, Karol Wojtyla, then Pope John Paul II, canonized Sister Faustina Kowalska and established the first Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.

Theandric Christ

It had been assumed that such an overly generous and merciful grace as the remission of all sins and punishment would be impossible. Yet, any doubt was overcome and the Catholic Church universally embraced the message of Divine Mercy.

As St. Thomas Aquinas points out: “Christ’s passion was not merely sufficient but a superabundant atonement for the sins of the human race.” (III.48.2) Since Christ is the divine Son who took on human flesh, all of his actions were “theandric;” that is, they were divine actions manifested in a human body.  Consequently, all of His humanly actions were of infinite value and merit, and more than enough to satisfy divine justice for all of humanity.

This is why St. Pope John Paul, who had been thinking about Saint Faustina for a long time when he wrote Dives in Misericordia (“Rich in Mercy”), could say: “This constitutes even a “superabundance” of justice, for the sins of man are “compensated for” by the sacrifice of the Man-God.” (DM, 7)  Christ’s superabundance of grace leaves at our disposal an ocean of divine mercy greater than any sin.

Blood and Water

This is how Christ can promise us on Divine Mercy Sunday a complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.  Just as Eve was drawn from Adam’s side while he fell into a “deep sleep,” so too, Christ’s Bride, the Church, was drawn from the blood and water that came from Christ’s side in His crucifixion.

In the Divine Mercy image, red and white light is issuing from Jesus’ heart, symbolizing the blood and water of the sacraments for Holy Communion and Baptism.  One of the main prayers Jesus taught Saint Faustina was “O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus, as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You.”  Jesus is asking us to trust in the sacraments of the Church.  The power of the Holy Spirit can make us new creations in Christ, particularly if we partake regularly in Confession and Holy Communion.  Why not take advantage of Christ’s great promise this Divine Mercy Sunday?

Brian Kranick

By

Brian Kranick is a freelance writer focusing on all things Catholic. In addition to other studies, he has a master's degree in Systematic Theology from Christendom College.  He has spent years working as an analyst in the Intelligence Community, and currently resides with his wife and three children in the Pacific Northwest.  He is the author of the blog: sacramentallife.com.

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  • Holly Williams

    Isn’t the promise pretty much the same thing as a Plenary Indulgence?

  • Shawn Albert

    Exactly. That’s what I don’t get. What is so special about this “promise”?

    There is nothing new or extraordinary in it at all. In fact, it’s more of an insult to claim that such a special grace, which is available at any time somehow came to be restricted to only one day a year because of some private revelation which has many problematic things contained in it. That being one of the more obvious.

  • Christopher

    You are both wrong. While Divine Mercy Sunday does give a Plenary Indulgence there is something more special about this Plenary Indulgence than the other ones. What makes the other Plenary Indulgences difficult to get is not performing the works or going to confession or even saying prayers for the Pope. What makes them difficult to get is the criteria of not being attached to any venial sins. Divine Mercy does not have the criteria of not being attached to venial sins which makes it very special indeed! Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. This is why it’s call Divine Mercy!

  • Antonia

    Excellent answer, and very succinct!

  • John J

    Shawn, this promise grants the gift of actually returning a person to the state of baptismal innocence, as if you had the soul of a baby. It is beyond a plenary indulgence in that, if received in its fullness, the recipient knows what it feels like to never have committed a sin in his or her life. Not even a venial sin. I know because it happened to me at the national Divine Mercy shrine in Stockbridge MA. about ten years ago. It cannot be described in words, except that one is overcome with love for God as well as everyone around you. It has never happened to me again. If you read St. Faustina’s book, “Divine Mercy in My Soul,” you will not find anything problematic at all.
    God Bless!

  • desireemadden

    With all due respect.If JP2 sought to establish it as a forever feast that’s one reason to pay attention.Secondly get out of legalism and offer your heart to understand its not one more thing to do or not enough Grace elsewhere.It is about PRAISING HIS MERCY and Praying for the Whole world who is sin sick and needs the Repentance of individual as well as collectively.Its not a have too its a get too.
    And so much more…” dont be unbelieving but believe,ye hard of hearts”

  • Shawn Albert

    With all due respect, I would ask what you mean by telling me to ‘get out of legalism’ but since you have just declared yourself to be engaged in legalism I won’t bother.

    The teaching of the Catholic Church is what matters. Anything which contradicts it is not from God. This idea that there is something more than a plenary indulgence is a contradiction to Church teaching.

    Nowhere in the entire history of the Catholic Church has it taught that there was any way to remove all spiritual and temporal debt for sin except by gaining a plenary indulgence, or by Baptism, as would be the case when someone was baptized as an adult. End of story. Full Stop.

    That isn’t “legalism”. That is the plain and simple truth, unless of course you intend to declare Christ, His Apostles, 260+ Popes, thousands of saints, and millions upon millions of ordinary Catholic who have or are living out the Catholic Faith of being guilty of “legalism”.

  • Teresita Rivera

    That’s true. It is hard to know that one is totally detached from any sin. The Divine Mercy indulgence is like a second baptism.

  • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

    Romans 9:16 “So then, everything depends, not on what we humans want or do, but only on God’s mercy.” Reference: Good News Bible (pg. 941) – (Catholic Study Edition)

  • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

    “Born Again” – (new baptism) – 1 Peter 1:23-25.

  • Robert Allard

    Hi Christopher, Because this day is set aside from any other day where the Divine Floodgates are wide-open, the indulgence and the promise are the same. Anyone who tries to discount the Plenary Indulgence has forgotten this fact. And don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have to be in a perfect state of grace to receive that, particular, promise from Jesus for the total forgiveness of sins and punishment; when Jesus said “go and sin no more” He means it. And, furthermore, Jesus said to be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect. When Jesus says go to Confession, He means for us to make a good and complete Confession and to “go and sin no more”. To tell people that they don’t have to remain in a perfect state of grace, is going against everything that Jesus preached, to us, in the Gospels, and is cheating people out of a life-changing encounter with the Mercy of God. It is important that we do our very best to try to remain in a perfect state of grace. I experienced this, first hand, in an event that Jesus wanted me to experience on my first Feast of Mercy in 1996. You can read about it here: http://www.divinemercysunda

  • Eskimo man

    Yes.

  • Eskimo man

    Everything depends on God full stop. But we do have to want Him, and do something to gain His Divine Mercy.

  • Eskimo man

    What happened to giving reverence to the Divine Mercy picture?

  • Christopher

    Hi Robert. I appreciate your comment. However, I think you put words in my mouth and then commented on those alleged words. I don’t think my reply discounted the Plenary Indulgence process. I did not say to people that they don’t have to be in a perfect state of grace to receive a Plenary Indulgence. I think I said, in fact, that the requirements for a Plenary Indulgence included the nedessity of being in a perfect state of grace as you said. What I did say was Divine Mercy Sunday had different considerations regarding its process. As said by other blogger here, Divine Mercy is like a new baptism.

    While I am not a Theologian here is what Dr. Robert Stackpole STD said about this issue.

    “Simply put: They are NOT the same thing!

    The main difference, of course, is that an “indulgence” is something offered to the faithful by the Church, as the keeper of the keys of the kingdom, with authority to “bind and loose” (see Mt 16:17-19). The special graces of Mercy Sunday, on the other hand, were promised directly by our Lord, through a prophetic revelation given to St. Faustina (see Diary of St. Faustina, 699). The Church has not officially ruled that this particular promise was an authentic supernatural revelation (and no Catholic is required to believe it as a matter of faith), but the Church has discerned, in various ways, that there is nothing that violates Catholic doctrine in this promise.

    Briefly, here are the other main differences between the “special graces” promised by Jesus for Divine Mercy Sunday, and the plenary indulgence offered by the Church for special devotions to The Divine Mercy on Mercy Sunday:

    1) The special graces that our Lord promised for Mercy Sunday come solely through the reception of Holy Communion on that day, in a state of grace, with trust in The Divine Mercy. Any plenary indulgence granted by the Church, on the other hand, involves the fulfilment of a number of conditions, including prayer for the pope’s intentions, confession and Holy Eucharist, and the carrying out of the special indulgenced work (in this case: participating in public devotions to The Divine Mercy on Mercy Sunday itself).

    2) The special graces promised by our Lord for Mercy Sunday can be received by a soul in a state of grace, but with imperfect love for God, and imperfect contrition for sin—as long as the soul merely trusts in the Mercy of God, and clings to Him because of His promised benefits. A plenary indulgence, however, can only be obtained through the performance of an indulgenced work as an expression of pure love for God. If the intentions of one’s indulgenced work are not pure (say, the work is done in part out of fear of hell or purgatory, and loathing for oneself — or the desire to impress one’s friends and relatives! — rather than purely out of love for God) then the indulgence obtained will be only partial, not plenary.”

    I hope this make it clearer for you! God Bless!

  • BajaBert

    Hi Robert. It sounds like you are up on the requirements so please clarify something for me, it would be greatly appreciated. I went to confession a few days before Easter Sunday. (I believe it was on a Wednesday). I went to the church on the Saturday BEFORE Divine Mercy Sunday to go to confession (with no serious sins), however there was only ONE of the three parish priests hearing confessions and there was an extremely long line of people. There was only about 40 minutes left of the allotted hour for confessions and it soon became clear that I would not get in “under the wire”. I was not certain if my Easter confession would count for compliance, so I left it in the Lord’s hands, made my Act of Contrition, and left the church. I received the Eucharist on DM Sunday with the hope of qualifying for the special graces. But I’m not sure if this was sufficient. What do you think? Let me add there is an opportunity for me to go to Confession tomorrow (Monday), but I don’t know if that would qualify. Sometimes it drives me crazy trying to get a clear answer that leaves me at peace regarding indulgences and the like. Thanks for any light you can extend. Pax et tibi!

  • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

    ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK!

  • John J

    Thanks for your comment Shawn. I just want to point out something I forgot to say because your concerns are so well stated.! Yes caution is called for in these forgiveness//indulgence matters. However, I forgot to say that my experience occurred over a four or five minute span beginning as I exited the confessional at the facility in Stockbridge. It lasted over 24 hours. As a traditional Mass Catholic, I am not attracted to much that has come out of the Novus Ordo church. However, please remember that JPII established the Feast of Mercy as per the request of Our Lord to Sister, now St. Faustina. I think that’s important. But I am interested in reading the website you recommended. Peace, and thanks, John J.

  • Christopher

    Robert, with all due respect am I to believe you over someone who has a Doctor of Sacred Theology? You keep stating your position “don’t let anyone lead you to believe…..”, but if you read what he wrote he explains the issue to you in detail and with clarity. So it seems you are wrong with confidence. Your argument to counter the doctors argument seems based on feelings rather than facts, reason or logic. A person with a (Latin: Sacrae Theologiae Doctor [STD]; formerly Professor of Sacred Theology, Sacrae Theologiae Professor [STP]) has the final theological degree in the pontifical university system of the Roman Catholic Church! That degree is equivalent to a Ph.d which why he has doctor in front of his name. It probably took him eight years or more of study of just these kind of questions and you discount his opinion? That’s like saying I don’t care if the medical doctor says I have diabetes and hypertension I am not taking the medication he prescribes because I feel fine. And if you feel fine I don’t care what the doctor says you don’t need to take medicine either for those problems and then you refer them to your website on the issue. How does a reasonable person respond to that?
    Theology, like medicine, is complicated as you can see. It has expects just like medical experts. If I may, I advise you to have some humility of thought and consider you might be wrong on this issue just because someone with more knowledge and education than you has a different, more researched opinion than yourself.

  • Eskimo man

    What about repent and penance?

  • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

    Confessing sins and asking forgiveness/pardon from God is very important to turning back to God and the promise of salvation offered by the sacrifice of Jesus. Penance is an action performed to show penitence and as reparation for sin.

  • Robert Allard

    I know Dr. Stackpole and he is very brilliant. Jesus, personally, gave me to know that we should strive to be in a perfect state of grace. What good would it do to not encourage everyone to do their very best when, Jesus, Himself told us to be perfect? I want everyone to do their best and receive all of those graces.

  • Christopher

    I know you are a good guy. And I understand that you feel “Jesus, personally gave me to know…” this personal experience so with that you feel you are speaking on His behalf. However, please realize for any practicing Catholic such experiences must be approved by the Catholic Church to be believed. Moreover, even when such experiences are approved by the Church, the Magisterium of the Church must always be believed over any such experiences. “He who listens to you listens to me”, remember Lk 10:16?
    With that said, a Catholic priest theologian speaks for the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and they are to be believed over your private revelation. Otherwise everyone would claim they had your kind of experience to get people to follow what they say.

    So as the Dr. explained to you, “The special graces promised by our Lord for Mercy Sunday can be received by a soul in a state of grace, but with imperfect love for God, and imperfect contrition for sin—as long as the soul merely trusts in the Mercy of God, and clings to Him because of His promised benefits….”. Divine Mercy is an amazing grace indeed!

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