What is Divine Mercy?
The message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread.
The Divine Mercy Message
The message of mercy is that God loves us “all of us” no matter how great our sins. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy. It is a message we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC.
A — Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
B — Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
C — Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.
The Divine Mercy Devotion
Devotion to The Divine Mercy involves a total commitment to God as Mercy. It is a decision to trust completely in Him, to accept His mercy with thanksgiving, and to be merciful as He is merciful.
The devotional practices proposed in the diary of Saint Faustina and set forth in website are completely in accordance with the teachings of the Church and are firmly rooted in the Gospel message of our Merciful Savior. Properly understood and implemented, they will help us grow as genuine followers of Christ.
“Lip Service” or Merciful Heart
There are two scriptural verses that we should keep in mind as we involve ourselves in these devotional practices:
1. “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Is 29:13);
2. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7).
Which of these would you and I like to hear the Lord say about us?
It’s an ironic and somewhat frightening fact that many of the most religious people of Christ’s time (people who were actively practicing their religion and eagerly awaiting the promised Messiah) were not able to recognize Him when He came.
The Pharisees, to whom Christ was speaking in the first quotation above, were very devoted to the prayers, rules, and rituals of their religion; but over the years, these outer observances had become so important in themselves that their real meaning had been lost.
The Pharisees performed all the prescribed sacrifices, said all the right prayers, fasted regularly, and talked a lot of about God, but none of it had touched their hearts. As a result, they had no relationship with God, they were not living the way He wanted them to live, and they were not prepared for the coming of Jesus.
When we look at the image of the Merciful Savior, or pause for prayer at three o’clock, or pray the Chaplet — are these things drawing us closer to the real sacramental life of the Church and allowing Jesus to transform our hearts? Or have they just become religious habits? In our daily lives are we growing more and more as people of mercy?Or are we just giving “lip service” to God’s mercy?
Living the Message of Mercy
The devotional practices revealed through Saint Faustina were given to us as “vessels of mercy” through which God’s love can be poured out upon the world, but they are not sufficient unto themselves. It’s not enough for us to hang The Divine Mercy image in our homes, pray the Chaplet every day at three o’clock, and receive Holy Communion on the first Sunday after Easter. We also have to show mercy to our neighbors. Putting mercy into action is not an option of the Divine Mercy Devotion; it’s a requirement!
Our Lord strongly speaks about this to Saint Faustina:
I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse yourself from it (Diary, 742).
Like the Gospel command, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” this demand that we show mercy to our neighbors “always and everywhere” seems impossible to fulfill. But the Lord assures us that it is possible. “When a soul approaches Me with trust,” He explains, “I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls” (Diary, 1074).
How do we “radiate” God’s mercy to others? By our actions, our words, and our prayers. “In these three degrees,” he tells Saint Faustina, “is contained the fullness of mercy” (Diary 742). We have all been called to this threefold practice of mercy, but we are not all called in the same way. We need to ask the Lord, who understands our individual personalities and situation, to help us recognize the various ways we can each show His mercy in our daily lives.
Asking for the Lord’s mercy, trusting in His mercy, and sincerely trying to live His mercy in our lives, we can assured that we will never hear Him say of us, “Their hearts are far from Me,” but rather that wonderful promise, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
It is our hope that you will continue to read and reread the information on this website and make the prayers, attitudes, and practices presented a real part of your life, so that you may come to trust completely in God and live each day immersed in His merciful love — thus fulfilling the Lord’s command to let your life “shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in Heaven” (Mt 5:16).
Works of Mercy
Be Merciful Even As Your Father Is Merciful (Lk 6:36)
Jesus Christ taught that man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but that he is also called to practice mercy toward others. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Mt 5:7)
The Church sees in these words a call to action, and she tries to practice mercy. “Man attains to the merciful love of God, His mercy, to the extent that he himself is interiorly transformed in the spirit of that love towards his neighbor.” (Pope John Paul II, Rich in Mercy, 14)
The Church teaches us to be merciful in various ways:
The Corporal Works of Mercy
1. Feed the hungry.
2. Give drink to the thirsty.
3. Clothe the naked.
4. Shelter the homeless.
5. Comfort the imprisoned.
6. Visit the sick.
7. Bury the dead.
The Spiritual Works of Mercy
1. Admonish sinners.
2. Instruct the uninformed.
3. Counsel the doubtful.
4. Comfort the sorrowful.
5. Be patient with those in error.
6. Forgive offenses.
7. Pray for the living and the dead.
THE DIVINE MERCY: Image and Chaplet
History of the Message and Devotion
The story of the origin and dissemination of the Divine Mercy message and devotion throughout the world makes for great reading — extraordinary visions and revelations, miraculous answers to prayer, a dramatic escape from war-torn Poland, a temporary ban by the Church, and strong support from Pope John Paul II, who may well go down in history as the “Mercy Pope.”
THE DIVINE MERCY IMAGE
In 1931, Our Lord appeared to a young Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska, in a vision. She saw Jesus clothed in a white garment with His right hand raised in blessing. His left hand was touching His garment in the area of the heart, from which two large rays came forth, one red and the other pale. She gazed intently at the Lord in silence, her soul filled with awe, but also with great joy. Jesus said to her:
Paint an image according to the pattern you see with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. ” I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory (Diary, 47, 48). ” I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: Jesus I trust in You (Diary, 327). “I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world (Diary, 47).
At the request of her spiritual director, Saint Faustina asked the Lord about the meaning of the rays in the image. She heard these words in reply:
The two rays denote Blood and Water. 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 tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross ” Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him (Diary, 299) ” By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works (Diary, 742).
Many different versions of this image have been painted, but Our Lord made it clear that the painting itself is not what is important. When Saint Faustina first saw the original image that was being painted under her direction, she wept in disappointment and complained to Jesus: “Who will paint You as beautiful as You are?” (Diary, 313)
In answer she heard these words:
Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace (Diary, 313).
So, no matter which version of the image we prefer, we can be assured that it is a vehicle of God’s grace if it is revered with trust in His mercy.
There are many prayers invoking the Mercy of God. However, the two main prayers of the Divine Mercy Message and Devotion are the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy and the Divine Mercy Novena. Both are prayed daily at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA. Continue reading this page for details on each prayer.
THE CHAPLET OF THE DIVINE MERCY
In 1935, Saint Faustina received a vision of an angel sent by God to chastise a certain city. She began to pray for mercy, but her prayers were powerless. Suddenly she saw the Holy Trinity and felt the power of Jesus’ grace within her. At the same time, she found herself pleading with God for mercy with words she heard interiorly:
Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world; for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world (Diary, 476).
As she continued saying this inspired prayer, the angel became helpless and could not carry out the deserved punishment (see Diary, 474, 475).
The next day, as she was entering the chapel, she again heard this interior voice, instructing her how to recite the prayer that our Lord later called “the Chaplet.” From then on, she recited this form of prayer almost constantly, offering it especially for the dying. In subsequent revelations, the Lord made it clear that the Chaplet was not just for her, but for the whole world. He also attached extraordinary promises to its recitation.
Encourage souls to say the Chaplet which I have given you (Diary, 1541). Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death (Diary, 687). When they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the Merciful Savior (Diary, 1541). Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy (Diary, 687). I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy (Diary, 687). Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will (Diary, 1731).
Prayed on ordinary rosary beads, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is an intercessory prayer that extends the offering of the Eucharist, so it is especially appropriate to use it after having received Holy Communion at Holy Mass. It may be said at any time, but our Lord specifically told Saint Faustina to recite it during the nine days before the Feast of Mercy (the first Sunday after Easter). He then added: By this Novena, [of Chaplets] I will grant every possible grace to souls (Diary, 796).
It is likewise appropriate to pray the Chaplet during the “Hour of Great Mercy” three o’clock each afternoon (recalling the time of Christ’s death on the cross). In His revelations to Saint Faustina, Our Lord asked for a special remembrance of His Passion at that hour.
THE NOVENA TO THE DIVINE MERCY
On Good Friday, 1937, Jesus requested that Saint Faustina make a special novena before the Feast of Mercy, from Good Friday through the following Saturday. He, Himself, dictated the intentions for each day. By means of a specific prayer, she was to bring to His Heart a different group of souls each day and thus immerse them in the ocean of His mercy, begging the Father — on the strength of Jesus’ Passion — for graces for them.
Unlike the novena of Chaplets, which Our Lord clearly wants everyone to use, this second novena seems to have been intended primarily for Saint Faustina’s personal use. This can be seen from Our Lord’s instructions, which address her with the word “you” in the singular.
But, since Saint Faustina was commanded to write it down, Our Lord must have intended the novena to be used by others, too. Once published, it immediately became very popular, and people prayed the novena, not only in preparation for the Feast of Mercy, but at other times as well.
The wide range of intentions, which do not include personal needs, makes the great popularity of this novena all the more astounding. In this novena we truly make the Lord’s intentions our own — a beautiful expression of the Church’s privilege and duty, as the Bride of the Lord, to be the intercessor at Christ’s side on the throne of mercy.
Divine Mercy Novena
I fly to Your Mercy, Compassionate God, Who alone are good. Although my misery is great and my offenses are many, I trust in Your Mercy because You are the God of Mercy, and it has never been heard of in all ages, nor do Heaven or Earth remember, that a soul trusting in Your Mercy has been disappointed.
(State your intentions)
Jesus, Friend of a lonely heart, You are my haven.
You are my peace.
You are my salvation.
You are my serenity in moments of struggle and amidst an ocean of doubts.