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The Divine Mercy is a Christian devotion to the endless merciful love of God towards all people. The devotion is due to the apparitions of Jesus received by saint Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), who is known as the Secretary of Mercy (Diary 965, 1160, 1605, 1693).
Faustina Kowalska reported a number of apparitions, visions and conversations with Jesus which she wrote in her diary, later published as the book Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul. The three main themes of the devotion are to ask for and obtain the mercy of God, to trust in Christ's abundant mercy, and finally to show mercy to others and act as a conduit for God's mercy towards them.
There are five main forms of this devotion, to which Jesus has attached promises: the miraculous Divine Mercy image with the inscription Jesus, I trust in you; the Divine Mercy Sunday which gives the forgiveness of all sins and punishments; the powerful Chaplet of Divine Mercy appealing to the passion of Christ; the hour of mercy, that is 3 p.m., when Jesus died; and the spreading of the mercy to the whole humanity, as it is the preparation for the end of world.
|“||Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God.|
— Words attributed to Jesus by Faustina in her diary.
The primary focus of the Divine Mercy devotion is the merciful love of God and the desire to let that love and mercy flow through one's own heart towards those in need of it. As he dedicated the Shrine of Divine Mercy, Pope John Paul II referred to this when he said: "Apart from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind".
As in the prayers that form the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, there are three main themes to the Divine Mercy devotion: to ask for and obtain the mercy of God, to trust in Christ's abundant mercy, and finally to show mercy to others and act as a conduit for God's mercy towards them.
The first and second elements relate to the signature "Jesus I trust in You" on the Divine Mercy image and Faustina stated that on April 28, 1935, the day the first Divine Mercy Sunday was celebrated, Jesus told her: "Every soul believing and trusting in My Mercy will obtain it".
The third component is reflected in the statement "Call upon My mercy on behalf of sinners" attributed to Jesus in Faustina's diary (Notebook I, items 186-187). This statement is followed in the diary by a specific short prayer: "O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You." which Faustina also recommended for the Hour of Divine Mercy. In her diary (Notebook II, item 742) Faustina wrote that Jesus told her: "I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me." and that he explained that there are three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first-by deed, the second-by word, the third-by prayer.
The Divine Mercy devotion views mercy as the key element in the plan of God for salvation and emphasizes the belief that it was through mercy that God gave his only son for the redemption of mankind, after the fall of Adam. The opening prayer for Divine Mercy Sunday Mass refers to this and begins: "Heavenly Father and God of Mercy, We no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for He is alive and has become the Lord of Life".
The chaplet is associated with the paintings of the image as in Faustina's diary. The most widely used is a Polish image painted by Adolf Hyla. Hyla painted the image in thanksgiving for having survived World War II.
In the image, Jesus stands with one hand outstretched in blessing, the other clutching the side wounded by the spear, from which proceed beams of falling light, red and white in colour. An explanation of these colors was given to Saint Faustina by Jesus himself saying, "The two rays represent blood and water." These colors of the rays refer to the "blood and water" referenced in the Gospel of John, (John 19:34) and which is also mentioned in the optional prayer of the Chaplet. The words “Jesus I Trust in Thee” usually accompany the image, (“Jezu Ufam Tobie” in Polish).
The original Divine Mercy image was painted by Eugene Kazimierowski in Vilnius, Lithuania under St. Faustina's direction. However, according to her diary, she cried upon seeing that the finished picture was not as beautiful as the vision she had received, but Jesus comforted her saying, "Not in the beauty of the colour, nor of the brush is the greatness of this image, but in My grace." The picture was widely used during the early years of the devotion, and is still in circulation within the movement, but the Hyla image remains one of the most reproduced renderings.
Though the origins of the chaplet and its use of rosary beads are distinctly Catholic in nature, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy can be said by non - Roman Catholics as well. Rosary beads are, indeed, used to say the prayer.
As a complement to the Divine Mercy Chaplet, a prayer can be said at 3p.m. This is the hour of Jesus' death as he died in the ninth hour.
"You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O fount of life, unfathomable Divine Mercy,envelop the whole world and empty yourself out upon us."
"O blood and water which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in you."
Jesus, King of mercy, I trust in you!"
The Chaplet may be said alone or as part of a Novena. Faustina wrote that in her visions Jesus instructed her that the Feast of the Divine Mercy (the Sunday after Easter) be preceded by a Divine Mercy Novena which would begin on Good Friday and conclude on Divine Mercy Sunday.
In her diary Faustina wrote that Jesus specified three o'clock each afternoon as the hour at which mercy was best received, and asked her to pray the Chaplet of Mercy and venerate the Divine Mercy image at that hour. On October 10, 1937, in her diary (Notebook V, item 1320) Faustina attributed the following statement to Jesus:
As often as you hear the clock strike the third hour immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it, invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners, for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul.
In an entry in her diary, Faustina stated that anyone who participates in the Mass and receives the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist on this day is assured by Jesus of full remission of their sins and punishments.
A number of Marian churches and shrines have been dedicated to Divine Mercy. One of the most important is the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, when also the Divine Mercy image was exhibited for the first time.
The worldwide center of the devotion is Divine Mercy Sanctuary (Kraków), commonly known as Łagiewniki. This is the resting place of saint Faustina Kowalska and it houses the most popular version of the Divine Mercy image (by Adolf Hyła).
The Divine Mercy Sanctuary (Płock) is the place where Saint Faustina had the first vision of the Divine Mercy image. The Divine Mercy Sanctuary (Białystok) has the remains of blessed Michał Sopoćko, the spiritual director of saint Faustina Kowalska and the Apostle of Divine Mercy. Głogowiec, Łęczyca County as well as nearby Świnice Warckie (central Poland) are the places of birth and childhood as well as baptism and first communion of saint Faustina Kowalska.
The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Marilao, Bulacan is the major church dedicated to Divine Mercy in the Philippines. The Divine Mercy Shrine in El Salvador City, Philippines, has a 50-foot (15-meters) statue of Merciful Jesus.
A number of Christian orders and institutions are devoted to the Divine Mercy. The John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy is managed by the Congregation of Marian Fathers, which takes an active role in promoting the Divine Mercy message.
The Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, to which saint Faustina Kowalska belonged, and the Congregation of Sisters of Merciful Jesus, established by blessed Michał Sopoćko on the request of Jesus given to Faustina, have also very important role in spreading the devotion.
Two new religious communities – The Sisters of Jesus’ Merciful Passion and The Littlest Sons of the Sweetest Heart of Mary – are being raised up in Michigan through The Servants of Jesus of The Divine Mercy, a Lay Association of the Christian Faithful that has grown under the guidance of Archbishop Allen Vigneron.