Preparation for Feast of Mercy
by Val Conlon
The Feast of Mercy was first introduced to the church as a solemn feast day on Low Sunday in Lithuania and Poland in 1996, but was not formally recognised as a Feast Day until the Canonisation of St. Faustina in 2000 and Pope John Paul II inauguration of the first Sunday after Easter as the Feast of Mercy.
On Low Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter, people all over the world, will celebrate the Feast of Mercy. From St. Faustina’s Diary, it is clear that this day, is a day chosen by Christ as a day of extraordinary graces, a complete outpouring of His mercy upon all who approach Him with great trust and faith. Jesus told St. Faustina, “My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and 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 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. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. 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”. (Diary 699)
To properly celebrate this great feast, we need to prepare well. In his 1985 Lenten Pastoral Letter, Cardinal Macharski, points out that all of Lent should be a preparation for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, the Crucified and Risen Christ, who is Mercy Incarnate. This great mystery of our Redemption, which the Cardinal calls “an act of the Merciful love of God,” is celebrated not only during Holy Week and on Easter Sunday but throughout the Easter season and especially on the Octave Day of Easter, which we call Divine Mercy Sunday or “The Feast of Mercy”.
Cardinal Macharski urges us to use Lent to prepare ourselves for this great feast day, placing more and more trust in the mercy of God and putting mercy into practice through deeds of mercy. In addition to receiving reconciliation and communion on this day, it is evident from the Diary of St. Faustina that Jesus requires other preparations as well.
Some of these conditions for the Feast of Mercy are that it should be preceded by a Novena of Chaplets to the Divine Mercy beginning on Good Friday. St. Faustina wrote, “Novena to Divine Mercy which Jesus instructed me to write down and make before the Feast of Mercy. It begins on Good Friday”. (Diary 1209) Making this Novena before the Feast of Mercy is now a custom of the Devotion to Divine Mercy. Jesus told St. Faustina, I desire that during these nine days you bring souls to the fountain of My mercy, that they may draw there from strength and refreshment and whatever grace they need in the hardships of life, and especially at the hour of death”. (Diary 1209)
Confession and Holy Communion on the Feast of Mercy – If confession is not possible on the day, it should be as close to the day as possible. St. Faustina made it on the Saturday before the Feast. Communion, as always, should be a worthy one and must be accompanied by complete trust in Divine Mercy. Jesus told St. Faustina, 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”. (Diary 699)
But most importantly, that an act of Mercy should take place in our lives, as part of our preparation for the feast. We should be merciful to others in our words, deeds and prayers. In the Diary, St. Faustina records that Jesus said, I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbour: the first — by deed, the second — by word, the third— by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. (Diary 742)
Merciful Word – Forgiving and comforting.
Merciful Deed – Any of the corporal works of mercy
Merciful Prayer – Prayers for Mercy for someone in need.
During the Celebration of the Feast of Mercy
The Image of the Divine Mercy should be ceremoniously blessed and publically venerated in the church on the Feast of Mercy. The Image should be publicly venerated and exposed to all taking part in the celebration. To achieve this, the Image could be left in a position that all can see and say “Jesus I Trust in You”. This can be carried out during the celebration like the kissing of the cross on Good Friday, or as people leave the Church, if numbers prevent it during the Ceremony. Jesus told St. Faustina, “I want this Image to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy”. (Diary 49)
The sermon given by the priest on the Feast of Mercy, should be on Divine Mercy, that is the mercy which God the Father bestows on us through Jesus Christ, His son. That we contemplate, on this day, the Mystery of Redemption as the greatest revelation of Divine Mercy towards us. Jesus revealed to St. Faustina, “Tell My priests that hardened sinners will repent on hearing their words when they speak about My unfathomable mercy, about the compassion I have for them in My Heart. To priests who proclaim and extol My mercy, I will give wondrous power; I will anoint their words and touch the hearts of those to whom they will speak” (Diary 1521) Ask of my faithful servant that, on this day, he tell the whole world of My great mercy; that whoever approaches the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete remission of sins and punishment. Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy. (Diary 300)
During the Feast of Mercy, we must be mindful of the graces being bestowed on us by God. Our veneration of the Image of Mercy and the words of the priest, should help confirm us within this new devotion to Divine Mercy. We should take the time to prepare well for the Feast of Mercy and to be grateful to God for such generosity, kindness and mercy to mankind. In this way, we will come to appreciate the immense gift which God offers us on the feast of Mercy and through the devotion to His Divine Mercy.