There are a number of points regarding the Novena to Divine Mercy which are worth earnestly reflecting upon as we grow in our understanding and knowledge of the most important Devotion in the history of the Catholic Church. The first of these is the purpose of the Novena. In order to understand the purpose of the Novena, we must firstly understand the reason of the Devotion. The central intention of the Devotion to Divine Mercy is to save every soul from eternal perdition. All the elements of the Devotion are designed with this outcome in mind. The Chaplet, the intercessory prayers, the Feast of Mercy, the Image and the Diary are all focused on bringing souls back to the Fountain of Mercy at which they can be forgiven and healed from the wounds of their sins. The entire devotion is a solemn promise from Jesus that no matter what sins they have committed, they will never be refused forgiveness by Him. In fact He not only promises forgiveness, He also promises healing and all the graces necessary for our earthly life and particularly for the hour of our death.
The Novena is an important part of this Devotion for it provides us with an insight into Heaven and the mercy of God. The first element of this novena is Our Lord’s description of what would happen on each day of the Novena. He told St. Faustina that she would bring a different group of souls to the Fountain of His Mercy every day where He would refresh them and grant them all the graces they would need to endure the hardships of their life. Then He told her that He would bring this group of souls into His Father’s House at with point St. Faustina would plead with the Father, on the strength of the bitter Passion of Jesus, for mercy and graces for these souls. We know from reading the Diary that a sincere and genuine request made to the Father which honours the Passion of Jesus is impossible for God the Father to refuse. This is why the structure of this novena is so important. It shows the goodness and love of the Holy Trinity and Their love for us all, saint and sinner alike.
The second important point of this novena is the nine groups of souls which Jesus requests that St. Faustina bring to Him on each day of the Novena. There are five groups which are pleasing to God and four groups which are displeasing, but which He hopes the prayers of the Novena will transform. The five groups which are pleasing to God are the (1) souls of priests and religious, (2) the souls of devout and faithful souls, (3) meek and humble souls and the souls of children, (4) souls who venerate and glorify the mercy of God and (5) the souls in Purgatory. The four groups which are displeasing to God are (1) the souls of sinners, (2) the souls of pagans, (3) the souls of heretics and schismatics and (4) the lukewarm souls. Even though these souls are described by Jesus as being a source of suffering, it is clear that He hopes that the graces He grants them through this novena will change their heart and bring them back into the love and mercy of God. Even in the Diary, Jesus tells St. Faustina that a multitude of souls were already returning to Him, who might otherwise not have, because of the prayers of this novena.
All of us fall into one or maybe more of these categories. It is possible that the souls of pagans would also be included in the souls of sinners and maybe the souls of priests and religious might also be counted amongst those souls who particularly venerate and glorify God’s mercy. Of course it is impossible for us to know this and maybe it is impossible for us to know which category God places our souls. But if we are honest with ourselves, we will probably recognise a category to which we belong. If we think we belong in one of the groups which displeases God, we know that through this novena, God greatly desires that we are renewed and refreshed and granted new graces so that we can become devout, faithful, humble souls who glorify the mercy of God.
The different groups of this novena also shows us what is pleasing to God in a soul and offers us guidelines for how we must live our life. For example, if we are lukewarm, maybe it’s because we don’t appreciate all the graces which God has granted us during our life. Maybe we don’t believe in the power of prayer or the love of God. Maybe we have attachments to earthly things which cause us to move away from the gifts of Heaven. One of the most important attributes of any Christian is complete honesty with oneself. We should not fool ourselves that the way we are living is “good enough” if we can see by our behaviour that it is out of line with the expectations of Jesus. One of the most beautiful elements of this devotion is the solemn promise of Jesus to forgive without question any souls who makes a request to His infinite mercy. So if we are sinners, or pagans, or heretics or lukewarm souls, we still have tremendous hope in Jesus for He created this devotion for such souls. It is His sincere desire that we benefit from the power of His grace and return to the protection and comfort of His immense love for each and every one of us. Because we are human, it is sometimes hard for us to believe that God could love us and forgive us, for we all know our own sins.
But it is precisely because we are prone to think and feel this way that Jesus established this new Devotion to Divine Mercy. The promises Jesus has made to us through this devotion are astounding. He has set no limits on His mercy or His life-saving grace. He had given us extremely powerful prayers in the form of the Chaplet, the Novena and the intercessory prayers as well as the Feast of Mercy, the Diary of St. Faustina and the intercession of St. Faustina, all of which are designed for the purpose of granting us His mercy. Our hope lies in knowing, believing and trusting that it is God’s sincere desire that we are forgiven, healed and return to a special holy life with Him, for the duration of our earthly life and forever in Heaven.
He told St. Faustina that the loss of a single soul causes Him “bitter grief” because He loved this soul and desired its salvation. All the words of Jesus and the intentions for which He created this novena should bring us immense confidence in the Mercy of God and the promises He has made to us through this devotion. We should allow the grace which He grants us to permeate our souls and transform our hearts so that we can become a channel of His love and mercy. We should not view our responsibilities within this devotion as chores but as an honour what was have been granted the grace to know and understand this incomprehensible and truly profound devotion. We should be so grateful to Jesus and St. Faustina for all the goodness and mercy they have shown us. Jesus told St. Faustina that He would refuse nothing to any soul whom she brought to Him through this novena, so we have a great intercessor in St. Faustina and we should pray continuously to her as we advance in our devotion to Divine Mercy.