Theology of the Feast of Divine Mercy
"This needs to be celebrated!"
... The Feast of Mercy has its roots deeply planted in the Old and New Testament and in the early Church Tradition. It is a feast with three distinct dimensions, each emphasizing an aspect of the paschal mystery that needs to be brought out more clearly and appropriated by the faithful: merciful love, atonement, and covenant.
The Feast of Mercy is a Celebration and a Summation of God's Merciful Love.
The Triduum of Holy Week, along with the entire Easter season, focuses on various aspects of the paschal mystery. Holy Thursday celebrates the Mass of the Chrism and the evening Mass of the Mandatum - the washing of the feet of the disciples, ordination to the priesthood, the institution of the Eucharist, and the last discourse of Our Lord promising the sending of the Holy Spirit
Good Friday commemorates the passion and death of Jesus on the cross.
The Easter vigil, the pinnacle of the paschal mystery, celebrates the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Redeemer who is our light and salvation, bringing us new life by water and the Holy Spirit. The Easter season continues this celebration, leading to the Ascension of the Lord and to Pentecost - the fulfillment of the promise to send the Holy Spirit.
The Feast of Mercy focuses on God's mercy as an event! It focuses on God's continuing action of mercy, culminating in His loving plan to have mercy on all! This Feast is a summation of the event to His mercy active in our lives now. It is because of His mercy that we have forgiveness of sin and new life as children of God. This needs to be celebrated!
The Feast of Mercy is a Day of Atonement
The Feast of Mercy is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Day of Atonement. It is a day of forgiveness of sins for those who approach the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is an annual celebration like the Day of Atonement - all sins and punishment are washed away in His infinite mercy. The focus of this paschal event is on God's mercy for us sinners and His free gift to those who turn to Him with trust.
Our Easter liturgy had fulfilled the major feasts of the Old Testament - Passover and Pentecost - and was only missing the Day of Atonement. This Feast of Mercy now completes the needed fulfillment of Old Testament feasts.
The Feast of Mercy is the Covenant of Mercy
The octave day has its roots in the Old Testament and New Testament as the Day of Covenant. On the eighth day after His birth, a male child was circumcised as a sign of the covenant and given His name
In the early church the newly baptized, newly born in Christ, wore white robes until the Sunday in White (Dominica in Albis) the octave day of Easter, symbolizing their innocence. The Feast of Mercy once again celebrates the white innocence we receive by the Covenant of Mercy. St. Augustine calls these days "days of mercy and pardon"
... Like the covenant of Sinai we, too, prepare for the Feast by purification from our sins and by the sprinkling of blood and proclaiming of the law - but this time we are cleansed by the precious blood of the Lord and the Proclamation of His mercy.
On the octave day of Easter we, too, ratify the Covenant of Mercy, reaffirming not only our Baptism, already renewed at the Easter vigil, but also the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation and Eucharist.
,,, The Feast of Mercy is the octave day of the Resurrection, which strikes the resonant chord of Easter, developing the meaning and richness of the paschal mystery and applying it in a new and deeper way. It resonates with all of nature, sounding anew the grace of the resurrection,
The Feast of Mercy - the Desire of the Lord
As we have seen, the reasons for establishing the Feast of Mercy are strong and clear in themselves ... But, in our times, there is an additional reason that makes the need for the Feast of Mercy ever more urgent... In a series of reported revelations to Saint Faustina Kowalska, Our Lord specifically and repeatedly asked that the Feast of Mercy be established on the octave day of Easter.
... The idea of this special celebration of God's mercy on the Sunday after Easter is not a new or radical idea stemming simply from private revelation. Our Lord, through Saint Faustina, is simply reemphasizing what was strongly urged by Saint Thomas the Apostle in the earliest liturgical document in existence, the "Apostolic Constitutions." There we read: "After eight days (following the feast of Easter) let there be another feast observed with honor, the eighth day itself on which He gave me, Thomas, who was hard of belief, full assurance, by showing me the print of the nails, and the wound made in His side by the spear."
One of the greatest Doctors of the Church, St. Gregory of Nazianzen, also supports this Feast, declaring that the Octave day of Easter is even a greater Feast than Easter though it takes nothing whatever away from the greatness of the Day of the Resurrection itself. Easter Sunday is the boundary between death and life (a creation). But its eighth day, the Octave, is the fulfillment of what Easter is all about - perfect life in eternity (a second creation, more admirable and more sublime than the first).
Easter Sunday represents our creation in the life of Grace through faith in the Risen Savior. The Octave Sunday of Easter represents the fulfillment of that "creation in grace." Thus it is, as St. Augustine says, "The most privileged octave-day" and certainly merits the title "Feast of The Divine Mercy."
We now have the key to understanding the Image of The Divine Mercy with its rays signifying the Blood and Water that flowed from Christ's pierced side with the inscription (Jesus, I Trust In You), and to Our Lord's insistence that this image be specially venerated on the first Sunday after Easter
... We can also see these rays as simultaneously symbolizing the Holy Spirit, whom Christ breathed into the Disciples during the same Octave-day appearance. On the strength of that Holy Breath, all sins are forgiven and "at-ONE-ment" with the Father is accomplished. Here, God in Christ is reconciling the world to Himself... And here the Church, the newly-born Body of Christ, is commissioned to be the instrument of reconciliation down through the ages.
This is Christ's GREAT PROMISE of complete pardon of sin and punishment on the Feast of Mercy through the reception of the Sacraments (which is a participation of Christ's death to sin and rising to divine life).1
Chaplet of Divine Mercy
by Val Conlon
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a truly special and holy prayer because it was created by Jesus for mankind. He revealed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to a Polish nun called St. Faustina through a series of visions and inner locutions in 1935, while she was living in Vilnius, Lithuania. Between 1935-1938, Jesus demonstrated to her the unlimited power of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy through a number of extraordinary miracles and events. Although known as a prayer for the sick and dying, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is not restricted to any set of intentions or petitions. Jesus showed St.Faustina the power of the Chaplet by teaching her that the Chaplet even had the power to change the weather conditions in the area where she lived. (Diary 1197) He did this to demonstrate the boundless power of this new prayer. Jesus explained to her that He would grant unimaginable graces to those who prayed the Chaplet even once. (Diary 1731)2
Community and Resources
The Last Apparition
Medjugorie is a profound grace given to us since June 1981. The authenticity of the message of conversion, reconciliation, and mercy has been uniquely reaffirmed by the Blessed Mother in the unlikely little village of Medjugorie, where she appeared to six young people, and is still appearing to three daily. According to the visionaries,"the Mother of Jesus is bringing an urgent plea from Her Son to mankind to turn away from a world terminally ill with the disease of sin and to be reconciled with God".
In the message of September 25, 1992. Mary explained to us how Satan is trying to destroy the plans of Heaven: "Dear children, Today, also, I wish to tell you I am with you on these restless days in which Satan wants to destroy everything which I and my Son, Jesus, are building up. In a special way he wishes to destroy your souls. He wishes to guide you as far away as possible from Christian life, as well as from the Commandments, to which the Church is calling you, so you may live them. Satan wishes to destroy everything that is holy in you and around you. Therefore, little children, pray, pray, pray in order to be able to comprehend all which God is giving you through my coming."
On October 25, 1992, she warned us that Satan is strong and wishes to make as many as possible his own. She pleaded for us to trust in her, and, she said she is here to help and guide us. Mary, also, hinted that these apparitions will soon be ending; when this happens, events foretold will unfold rapidly. We are told by the visionaries that "These are the last apparitions on earth and when they cease they will cease everywhere."
We are told that when these apparitions cease, three warning will come to the world and then the 'visible sign' will be given. After the visible sign appears, "those who are still alive will have little time for conversion."
Mary pleaded, "Those separated from God are My Children ... I grieve for them, because they do not know what awaits them if they do not turn back to God."3
'I am wounded by love'
What, I ask, is more wonderful than the beauty of God? What thought is more pleasing and wonderful than God’s majesty? What desire is as urgent and overpowering as the desire implanted by God in a soul that is completely purified of sin and cries out in its love: I am wounded by love? The radiance of divine beauty is altogether beyond the power of words to describe.
- Saint Basil the Great