Today Pope Francis announced a Jubilee Year of Mercy to start on December 8th
So why was today chosen to launch a year of mercy?
During the 1930’s, a young nun from a poor family in Poland began receiving visions and messages from our Lord, Jesus. Eventually Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska had filled more than 600 pages in her diaries with these divine revelations. Along with the messages that Jesus gave to Sr. Faustina, He also instructed her to paint the famous Divine Mercy image which shows red and white rays of light coming forth from the Sacred Heart of Jesus accompanied by the words ‘Jesus, I trust in You.’ Jesus informed Faustina that this image was to be venerated and used as a reminder of God’s limitless mercy for absolutely everyone.
The miracle that led to St. Faustina’s canonization is obviously attributed to her intercession; however, the recipient of this miracle gave the credit to Jesus who had healed him after St. Faustina put in a “good word” for him. This miracle happened on October 5, 1995, the feast day of St. Faustina (who was then a blessed) to Fr. Ron Pytel. Fr. Ron had permanent heart damage which doctors gave another three years before he would die. While at the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Baltimore, Fr. Ron spent some time in prayer asking that his heart would be healed. Upon venerating a relic of St. Faustina he collapsed. Despite feeling paralyzed, Fr. Ron felt completely at peace. Soon after this incident Fr. Ron visited his cardiologist, and to his surprise, discovered that the priest’s heart had been completely. Five years after being told that he only had three left to live, Fr. Ron joined Pope John Paul II for the canonization of St. Faustina, the first saint of the new millennia.
The Divine Mercy has had an enormous impact on the world since the revelations to St. Faustina. Although there are many ways the Divine Mercy has influenced our lives, I’m going to highlight three big ones.
- The Divine Mercy Image: This beautiful portrait of our Lord is now a common item among many churches and households throughout the world. When Jesus gave this image to St. Faustina, He told her that it is to be venerated. This means that this particular image of Jesus is to be regarded with great respect or, in other words, adored because it is holy (similar to venerating relics of saints). Imagine if we took the initial request to venerate the Divine Mercy image to heart. Our knees might begin to hurt because of how many times we would be genuflecting in front of this picture. That may seem a bit obscure, but when Jesus said that this divinely inspired depiction of Himself is to be venerated, He meant it. So, the next time you come across the image of Divine Mercy maybe bow your head or cross yourself to honor our Redeemer.
- The Divine Mercy Chaplet: The chaplet was given to us as a way to meditate on the passion of Jesus and so we could understand more fully His mercy. Jesus made it easy for us to remember by using the same beads that are used for the rosary. Each prayer is a constant meditation on God’s mercy for His children. When we pray this chaplet we can come to understand that the passion wasn’t just for us, but for the sake of the whole world. “O blood and water which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in you.”
- Divine Mercy Sunday: Instituted by St. John Paul II to be celebrated on the second Sunday of Easter, this special day is one of the biggest ways in which God showers is unlimited mercy upon the world. Specifically, St. Faustina stated in her diary that anyone who participates in the mass and receives the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist on this day is promised by Jesus to gain full remission of their sins and punishments. Jesus is so abundant in mercy that He is willing to remove all the purgatory time we have allotted throughout our lives and wipe our slates completely clean.
This was not a new teaching when it was revealed to St. Faustina about 80 years ago. Divine Mercy is a reminder of what the Church has always taught through scripture and tradition: that God is merciful and willing to forgive us of anything and that we as His children are called to imitate Him. We can easily remember the message of Divine Mercy by following the ABC’s:
- Ask for His Mercy: Go to God. He desires for us to be with Him in heaven so much that He sent His only Son to die for us. Don’t let that mercy go to waste, He wants to give it to you.
- Be merciful: Just as our God is merciful, so should we be. He wants His mercy to flow through us to others. His mercy and forgiveness extends to the entire human race and it is our job to spread this wonderful news.
- Completely trust in Jesus: How can we receive His mercy if we don’t trust in Him to give it to us? That is putting limits on the power and love of God, of which He has none. If Jesus was able to forgive and show mercy to the men who had abandoned Him during His passion, then He is more than willing to show mercy to us when we have sinned. There is nothing we can do that He won’t forgive if we repent.
Jesus I Trust In You!