All thanks to a Polish nun whose death we remember today, the Universal Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday on the 2nd Sunday of Easter.
The Divine Mercy devotion is similar in many ways to the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The purpose of this particular devotion is to help those of us who struggle with sin and to help us realize that God is always willing to forgive us, providing that we willingly choose to seek repentance.
It is important to know that you don't have to wait until the 2nd Sunday of Easter each year to pray this particular devotion. In fact, the Divine Mercy chaplet and prayers can be recited every day, traditionally at 3 pm, signifying the time that Jesus died on Good Friday.
When you dig a little deeper and understand the history surrounding the Divine Mercy devotion, you will be introduced to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska and her life story.
St. Faustina, born in Poland, was the third of ten children. Prior to joining the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in 1925, St. Faustina served as a housekeeper in three cities and spent time as a cook, gardener and porter. She had a beautiful spirituality that reflected her deep interior life. Notably, she received messages from Jesus that she wrote down in her diary.
For example, she wrote, “Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection."
St. Faustina died of tuberculosis in Krakow, Poland, on this day in 1938.
Blessed Pope John Paul II, who made her cause for sainthood a priority in his pontificate, gave the Catholic Church a gift by beatifying her in 1993. The late Pope believed so much in her cause that a few years after her canonization in 2000, he visited the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy at Lagiewniki in Poland. He had the chance to speak with members of her community and told them that “the message of divine mercy has always been very close and precious to me."
"It is as though history has written it in the tragic experience of World War II," he continued. "In those difficult years, this message was a particular support and an inexhaustible source of hope, not only for those living in Krakow, but for the entire nation. This was also my personal experience, which I carried with me to the See of Peter and which, in a certain sense, forms the image of this pontificate."