“This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of My tender mercies. Every soul believing and trusting in My mercy will obtain it.”
On Sunday 28th April 1935, the very first ‘Feast of Mercy’ with public veneration of the Divine Mercy Image and a homily on the subject of mercy, was celebrated by Blessed Fr Michael Sopocko in Vilnius, and it was attended by St Faustina. This was in direct response to the desires of the Merciful Lord, Who, in His revelations to St Faustina, had explicitly requested such a feast, asking that it be celebrated throughout the Church.
On Sunday 30th April 2000, that request found it’s fulfilment when St John Paul II canonised St Faustina and decreed that henceforth, the second Sunday after Easter would be known as Divine Mercy Sunday, to be celebrated throughout the Catholic Church. A few years later, St John Paul would die on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday (that anniversary having fallen yesterday, 2nd April), having just been present at the Vigil Mass for the feast day; he would also be beatified and then canonised on Divine Mercy Sunday a few years later.
It is extraordinary for the Lord to make a request such as the one concerning the Feast of Mercy, as revealed to St Faustina – that revelation, of course, later receiving the full approval of the Catholic Church so that Catholics may believe in the revelations, although they are not bound to do so. Perhaps more extraordinary still is that, hearing the request, the Church acceded to it and instituted the Feast. By the grace of God, and as foretold by St Faustina, that is precisely what happened.
And so today, we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy, or Divine Mercy Sunday, throughout the Catholic Church.
This particular Feast of Mercy is a unique one, falling as it does within the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, called for by our present Holy Father, Pope Francis – a Pope who has shown the way of mercy throughout his Pontificate, by the grace of God.
For the last nine days, numerous souls have prayed a Novena in honour of the Divine Mercy and now today, at numerous locations across the world, the faithful will gather to celebrate this Feast of Mercy and to venerate the Image of Divine Mercy revealed to St Faustina; to listen to Priests preach on the mercy of God; to pray for mercy for all the world; and all of this will culminate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And in doing so, they will be granted the fruits of the promise of the Merciful Lord –
“The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.”
This promise has been described as being like ‘a second Baptism’ and it is a quite extraordinary promise from the Merciful Lord – such is His desire that we adore His infinite mercy. He reminds us, too, that while this is the Time of Mercy, it will be followed by the time of Justice, and that we must all pass through one of those two doors.
Today, I think of and pray for all those souls throughout the world who are devoted to the Divine Mercy and who work in whatever way they can, large or small, to promote the work of mercy by means of their deeds, words and prayers – may the Lord, Who is Mercy Incarnate, bless every one of those souls. I also think and pray for all those souls who are still to embrace the mercy of God, asking the Lord to bless each of them and to grant them whatever mercy and graces they may need to do so, and with full confidence that He will indeed do so.
And in a special way, I think today of all the Priests throughout the Church who promote the message of Mercy; Our Holy Father, who does so in so many different ways, and all those Priests working quietly and namelessly in the vineyards of the Lord for the good of souls; may the Merciful Lord, Who has begun this good work in them, bring it to completion.
Jesus, we TRUST in You.