A Second Baptism
The following is from a lecture by Canon Ignacy Rozycki Doctor of Dogmatic Theology, and a member of the International Theological Commission. He said “Among the external manifestations of the Devotion to The Divine Mercy the Feast of Mercy occupies the first place”. The Lord Jesus made known His will (about this feast) already in the opening revelation concerning this devotion (on February 22, 1931). For the establishment of this Feast, He devoted fourteen revelations. Of Saint Faustina He required that the feast be preceded by a novena of Chaplets to the Divine Mercy.
Jesus also personally dictated to her a very beautiful novena intended however, primarily for her own use. He attached such importance to this feast that in the 43rd revelation He stated: “My Heart rejoices on account of this Feast” (Diary II 319). The Feast of Mercy is to be celebrated on the First Sunday after Easter. The selection of this Sunday, as well as the distinct desire of Jesus that priests preach sermons on this day about Divine Mercy, especially that mercy which God bestows upon us through Christ, all serve to indicate that Jesus sees a strict connection between the paschal mystery of our redemption and this feast: it is designed for the purpose that we contemplate on that day the mystery of Redemption as the greatest revelation of Divine Mercy towards us.
Saint Faustina also took note of the connection between the Feast of Mercy and the mystery of the Redemption when in 1935 she wrote: “I see now that the work of Redemption is bound up with the work of Mercy that the Lord desires” (1,37)… Jesus asks that the Feast of Mercy be preceded by a Novena. From Sister Faustina He required a preparation for its observance by means of a novena consisting of the recitation of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. He gave her orders to set down in writing, and in part He dictated to her, another novena that is inserted in the third notebook of her Diary. It is beautiful and profound but intended for her own use only. But the novena consisting of the recitation of the Chaplet of Mercy and intended for use by the whole world unites within itself the promises of Jesus, on the one hand, to the recitation of this chaplet, and, on the other hand, to the making of the novena (of chaplets) before the Feast of Mercy.
Concerning this novena Jesus said. “By this (the Chaplet) novena I will grant souls all possible graces” (II 197). The words “all possible graces” mean that people making this novena to the Divine Mercy will obtain every sort of divine blessing they ask for regardless of whether they pray for graces for themselves or for others. Jesus demands that the feast be celebrated solemnly, that is, as a liturgical feast of the Church Universal. With regard to the manner of its celebration He expressed two wishes: In the first place, the image of the Divine Mercy is to be ceremoniously blessed on this feast, and on this same Sunday it is to be publicly, that is, liturgically venerated (1, 142; see also 1,18 and 37). Secondly, “On that day priests are to speak to souls about this great and unfathomable Mercy of Mine” (II,40).
Jesus requires then, that the subject of sermons on that day be on His mercy, not only His divine and infinite mercy, but also the unimaginable mercy of His human heart, the evidence of which is, above all, His Passion, for he wants “that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners.” Since there is no other means of drawing graces from the well spring of Mercy but through trust, the sermon should be of the sort that it be capable of stirring up in the hearers an unwavering and fervent attitude of trust in Jesus. The preacher will be able to do justice to this assignment only if he manages to show the faithful the inconceivable love and mercy of Jesus both in His Passion and in the entire work of the Redemption. Thus, the going quickly through the whole work of Redemption from the point of view of the Redemption is the special purpose of this feast.
In sermons preached on this day it is proper also by all means to direct attention to the most singular grace which Jesus attached to the celebration of this feast. Namely; “The soul that will go to confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment” (II.138). *Our Lord does not explicitly say we have to get confession on the Feast itself. (1.130, II.138) St. Faustina herself, made it on the Saturday before Diary II.19 This extraordinary grace promised by Jesus in connection with the Feast of Mercy is something greater by far than a plenary indulgence. A plenary indulgence consists only in the forgiveness of temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven, it is never the forgiveness of sins themselves.The remarkable grace of the Feast of Mercy is also very much akin to the grace of Baptism.
The Sacramental grace of Baptism received by an adult is not only the removal of original sin but is also the forgiveness of all personal sins and any punishment due to them so the soul cleansed on the Feast of Mercy is like the soul of one newly baptised in the promises mentioned, however, Christ joined the forgiveness of all sins and punishment to the Holy communion received on the Feast of Mercy. In other words so far as that matter is concerned He raised it (the Holy Communion on the Feast of Mercy) to the rank of a second Baptism” It is obvious that in order to effect the complete forgiveness of sin and punishment the Holy Communion on the Feast of Mercy must not only be a worthy one, but in fact, must also be the expression of the fulfilment of the basic requirement of the Divine Mercy Devotion. Unworthily received, or not accompanied by trust in the Divine Mercy and by some deed of mercy toward one’s neighbour, it would be a contradiction of the Devotion to the Divine Mercy. Instead of the most singular grace, it would draw divine wrath upon the head of the recipient.
The spiritual good of the faithful demands that they know what great graces they can obtain by the Holy Communion received on the Feast of Mercy, and under what conditions they can obtain them. Jesus did not limit His generosity on the Feast of Mercy exclusively to this most extraordinary grace. On the contrary, Jesus declared that “on that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open; I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who will approach the fount of My mercy … On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened”. Therefore, Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet,” (11,138).
From these words of Christ it is evident that he fervently desires the Feast of Mercy to be an unusually effective refuge for all people, especially sinners incomparably more effective than all the other forms of theDevotion to the Divine Mercy. The incomparable effectiveness of this refuge is manifested in three ways: Firstly, through its universality. All people, even those who hitherto never had devotion to the Divine Mercy (even sinners who repent on the day of the Feast itself) can participate to the fullest extent in all the graces which Jesus prepared for this feast.
Secondly, on this day Jesus not only wishes to shower people with saving graces for eternal life, but also with temporal blessings for this life; and this refers both to individuals as well as to communities of people, since He said: “ Mankind will have no peace until it turns (as to a source of help) to the fount of My mercy” (II.138) Thirdly, all graces and benefits, even in their highest degrees, are this day accessible to everyone so long as they are asked for with great trust. Christ did not attach such an extraordinary abundance of benefits and graces to any other form of the devotion. (This Analysis by Canon Ignacy Rozycki, Doctor of Dogmatic Theology was approved by John Paul II and the Sacred Congregation for the faith.