We continue in the octave of Easter. A single day is not enough to celebrate this great solemnity. The Church gives us eight days and then an entire Easter season to rejoice in the Risen Lord. Alleluia! This final day of the octave has been designated Divine Mercy Sunday.
Sister (now Saint) Maria Faustina Kowalska, a young uneducated nun, lived in Poland from 1905 until her death in 1938. Baptized Helena, she was the third of ten children. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy just prior to her 20th birthday. She had only three years of formal education at the time. During her thirteen years in the convent, she worked as a cook, gardener and porter.
At the same time, Sr. Faustina heard an inner voice speaking to her. She wrote down the messages which she said were given to her by Jesus into her notebooks. The compilation of notebooks was eventually published as The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska (Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul). The content of these notebooks centered on God’s Divine Mercy. Sr. Faustina described how Jesus gave her the task of “Secretary” of His Divine Mercy.
According to the Divine Mercy website (thedivinemercy.org):
The years Sr. Faustina spent at the convent were filled with extraordinary gifts, such as revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, the gift of bilocation, the reading of human souls, the gift of prophecy, and the rare gift of mystical engagement and marriage.
At the time of her canonization in the year 2000 by Pope (now Saint) John Paul II, he also declared the Sunday after Easter Divine Mercy Sunday for the Universal Church. Sr. Faustina described Jesus speaking to her about this day in her dairy:
On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. 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 grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. (Diary of Saint Faustina, 699)
I realize we are living under some very unusual conditions at this time in history with the coronavirus pandemic. I suggest that we all intend now to make a sacramental confession as soon as possible when we are able to see a priest personally. Sacraments are administered person to person and not remotely by phone, by TV or by the internet. These are only stop-gap solutions. In the meantime, continue to pray the act of contrition as perfectly as possible each day.
There is a very important spiritual lesson for us here: time and opportunity will run out for all of us. We will not live forever. If we want to experience God’s Divine Mercy, we have first to admit our guilt and acknowledge our sins to Him through the instrument of the priest—as Jesus instructed His apostles (see Jn. 20:23).
Place your trust where we can have absolute certainty of God’s Divine Mercy: Jesus, I trust in Thee!
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska