At this time of the Feast of the Divine Mercy in Rome during this Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy, the buzz word in Rome at the moment is MERCY.
We are immersed within a Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy with Pope Francis choosing the official reflection of “Merciful like the Father”.
We are also in the midst of Easter Week with the Feast of the Divine Mercy in Rome taking place on Sunday – Divine Mercy Sunday.
So what’s it all about, and will Rome be doing anything special as a result of this double whammy of mercy this week?
Divine Mercy & Catholicism
The recent focus of the Catholic Church on Divine Mercy is nothing new. The Church has always taught through Scripture & Tradition that God is merciful and forgiving, and that we too, must show mercy and forgiveness.
Spreading God’s Mercy is central to Catholicism and at the heart of all Sacraments but especially Confession and the Last Rites.
St Faustina Kowalska
St Faustina Kowalska was born on August 25 1905 in Poland and baptised Helena Kowalska. In her teenage years, she witnessed a vision of Jesus in Suffering who called her to religious life. She thus entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy on August 1 1925 and took the name Sister Mary Faustina.
Sister Mary Faustina was a mystic. Whilst at the convent, she received extraordinary supernatural gifts including revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, the gift of bilocation, the reading of human souls, the gift of prophecy, or the rare gift of mystical engagement and marriage.
At the direction of her spiritual director, she kept a diary of the visions and conversations she had with Jesus in particular. Within these visions, Jesus directed Sr Faustina concerning his Divine Mercy and told her to have a painting made of Jesus which is known as the Image of Divine Mercy. This occured in a vision on February 22, 1931 and is recorded in Sr Faustina’s diary thus:
In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord
Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing,
the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening
of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one
red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord;
my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After
a while Jesus said to me, ‘paint an image according to the pattern
you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.
Later Jesus explained to Sr Faustina that:
The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous;
the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These
two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at
that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the
Cross….Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for
the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him
Within these series of visions, Jesus made many promises of gifts for those who further devotion and understanding of Divine Mercy with many similarities to the visions to St Margaret Mary Alacoque and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In addition to the image of Divine Mercy, Jesus also left Sr Faustina with the words of a prayer to be said – the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and also said that the Second Sunday of Easter would be a Feast of Divine Mercy.
In her Diary, St. Faustina records a special promise given to her by Jesus. He told her to communicate it to the whole world:
My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy (699).
In three places in her Diary, St. Faustina records our Lord’s promises of specific, extraordinary graces:
I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy (1109).
Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment (300).
The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion will obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment (699).
After much investigation, the devotion to Divine Mercy has spread rapidly throughout the world, the Church has sought to promote the devotion by attaching indulgences to its practice, and the Second Sunday of Easter has been officially designated as the Feast of Divine Mercy.
Sr Faustina was also recognised as a saint and was canonised by Pope John Paul II. It was also during this Polish pope’s pontificate that the devotion to the Divine Mercy and the establishment of the Feast in the Liturgical Calendar was made. Pope John Paul II was a strong advocate of Divine Mercy and himself died after the Vigil Mass of Divine Mercy Sunday on April 2 2005.
A full biography of St Faustina can be found by following the link.
Jubilee Year of Mercy
On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on the 8th December 2015, Pope Francis formally opened the Holy Doors of the Basilica of St Peter to mark the beginning of the Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Announced back in April 2015 in the Papal Bull Misericordiae Vultus , the emphasis of this special Jubilee Year is the Mercy of God the Father – Merciful Like The Father (Luke 6:36).
Within that Papal Announcement, Pope Francis said that
the practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a ‘viator’, a pilgrim travelling along the road, making their way to the desired destination. Similarly, to reach the Holy Door in Rome or in any other place in the world, everyone, each according to his or her ability, will have to make a pilgrimage. This will be a sign that mercy is also a goal to reach and requires dedication and sacrifice. May pilgrimage be an impetus to conversion: by crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us…
Eternal City Tours offer a host of specific pilgrimages for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Around the Feast of Divine Mercy, Pope Francis has designated certain special events to take place in Rome as a Jubilee For Those Devoted to the Spirituality of Divine Mercy culminating with a special Papal Mass.
Friday, April 1
From 20:00 to 24:00
Night of Reconciliation
Jubilee Churches open for penance services and confessions
Saturday, April 2
Begninning at 9:00 to 14.00
In the Jubilee churches:
Catechesis on mercy
Pilgrimages to the Holy Doors of the Four Major Basilicas
16:00 Entrance into Saint Peter’s Square
16:30 Testimonies and music
18:00 Prayer Vigil in Saint Peter’s Square with Pope Francis present
Sunday, April 3 (called “Dominica in albis” or Divine Mercy Sunday)
Concelebrated Holy Mass in Saint Peter’s Square with Pope Francis
More information can be learned by following this link.