Celebrated the Sunday after Easter Sunday, the Feast of Divine Mercy sometimes goes unnoticed because it follows many Holy Week activities. What is even less known is the Novena to Divine Mercy which starts on Good Friday. What with the procession, the Stations of the Cross and the Good Friday rites, the Novena to Divine Mercy is oftentimes forgotten. The more popular prayers of Divine Mercy are the Chaplet and Three o’clock Prayer.
If you read the Diary of St. Faustina, however, you will discover the importance the Lord Jesus gives to the Novena to Divine Mercy and the celebration of the feast. It was the Lord Himself who told St. Faustina of His desire for a feast of the Divine Mercy. This is found in several portions of the Diary. Here is an example:
I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open… The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and (remission of) punishment… The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depth of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter.
The Lord’s desire has been heeded and the Universal Church now celebrates liturgically the Feast of Divine Mercy.
The Novena to Divine Mercy, however, is something that is better done by us individually. While priests can certainly propagate and encourage it, it is up to us individuals to say the Novena. What should inspire us is that the Novena to Divine Mercy was dictated by the Lord Himself to St. Faustina. You would be surprised at the brevity of the text to be said everyday. It can easily be added to one’s usual daily prayers and recollections. Here, you pray each day for a different set of souls (sinners, the religious, devout souls, pagans, heretics, children, apostles of Divine Mercy, souls in purgatory, lukewarm persons).
One point to be emphasized is that the devotion to Divine Mercy does not just consist of prayers to be said. Here is what the Lord said to St. 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…I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first – by deeds; the second – by words; the third – by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me… Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy but there must also be acts of mercy… even the strongest faith is of no avail without works.
When we pray and spread the devotion to the Divine Mercy, we can be assured that we are following the Lord’s desires. At the end of our life, Jesus the Divine Mercy will be waiting for us with open arms and a Merciful Heart.
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