ROME, APRIL 11, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Church on April 18 will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, “a perennial invitation to address, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that await humanity,” according to John Paul II.
Preparation for this feast began on Good Friday with the novena to the Divine Mercy.
In May 2000, a decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, established by instruction of John Paul II the feast of the Divine Mercy on the Second Sunday of Easter.
Devotion to the Divine Mercy constitutes an authentic spiritual movement within the Catholic Church, promoted by Faustina Kowalska, who was canonized April 30, 2000.
The Holy Father chose that day to announce a surprise: “Throughout the world, the Second Sunday after Easter will be given the name Divine Mercy Sunday.”
Faustina Kowalska was born in the rural village of Glogowiec on Aug. 25, 1905. At 20, she was admitted to the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw. For the next 13 years, she carried out humble tasks as cook, gardener and porter. She died in Krakow on Oct. 5, 1938.
While living her hidden, humble life, she began to be favored with the mystical experience of consecration to the Divine Mercy. She received visions, revelations, and hidden stigmata and, at the suggestion of her spiritual director, began to write about these experiences in her diary in 1934.
Faustina Kowalska’s life centered on the proclamation of Divine Mercy to every human being. Her spiritual legacy to the Church is devotion to the Divine Mercy, inspired by a vision in which Jesus himself asked that a portrait be painted of him with the inscription “Jesus I trust in you,” which she commissioned to a painter in 1935.
Sister Faustina’s diary, entitled “Divine Mercy in My Soul,” revealed how Our Lord entrusted her with the mission to proclaim to the world once again, the evangelical message of his mercy and to establish new ways of devotion to God in his attribute of Mercy for all, especially those in greatest need.
The essential and fundamental characteristic of devotion to the Divine Mercy is trust in Jesus, a point which the Lord stresses, according to St. Faustina’s diary.
All forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy must stem from trust, according to the revelations given to the Polish nun, whether it is venerating the image of Divine Mercy, or praying the chaplet of Divine Mercy, or observing the hour of great Mercy — 3 in the afternoon, the time that Jesus died on the Cross — or receiving the sacraments on the feast of Divine Mercy.
The devotion revealed to St. Faustina urges the faithful to act daily with a spirit of mercy toward their neighbor, with prayers, words and deeds.