Week of Divine Mercy Sunday

What Is Divine Mercy?

The feast of the Resurrection begins on the first day of the week and continues for eight days, culminating on the Second Sunday of Easter. Since the year 2000, the octave day of Easter is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. But what is Divine Mercy, and why does it matter?

Simply put, the message of Divine Mercy is that God loves all people and therefore offers to forgive our sins, reconciling us to himself. He wants us to put our faith in him, receive his mercy, and share it with others.

This message is as old as the Gospel itself, but it took its modern form from the private revelations made by Jesus to St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who died in 1938.
Jesus proclaimed his mercy to St. Faustina, told her to share it with others, outlined various aspects of the Divine Mercy Devotion, and called for the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday:

My daughter, tell the whole world about my inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. 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 are opened all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no soul fear to draw near to me, even though its sins be as scarlet... The Feast of Mercy emerged from my very depths of tenderness. It is my desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of my mercy.

This might seem like something new, but in fact, Jesus is just calling attention to something that is intrinsic both to the Gospel and to the Second Sunday of Easter itself. St. John Paul II recognized this when, giving the name of Divine Mercy Sunday to this feast, he didn't change any of the Mass prayers or readings. The First Reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, shows the early Christian community showing God's mercy to each other, especially the poor. The Responsorial Psalm includes the repeated refrain, "His mercy endures forever." The Second Reading, from the First Letter of St. John, refers to the Blood and Water that flowed from Christ's side and that are pictured in the Divine Mercy image. And the Gospel reading is the incident when Christ appears a week later to St. Thomas, who sees the Lord's wounded side and receives his mercy.

This devotion isn't just for one Sunday a year, though. Explore the devotion to the Divine Mercy and express your trust in our Lord's mercy this week, during the Easter season, and throughout the year!

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

This collect prayer begins the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Jesus is calling us to "take up battle against spiritual evils." We'll explore fasting itself in a few weeks; during the week of Ash Wednesday, we're going to dig into an important set of weapons the Lord gives us to fight evil: sacramentals.

What's a sacramental? Well, if you attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, you're probably going to receive one on your forehead.