The message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun. In obedience to her spiritual director, she wrote a Diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations that she received about the mercy of Jesus.
On February 22, 1931, Jesus appeared to St. Faustina and told her, “Paint an Image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I Trust in You!. I desire that this Image be venerated, first in your chapel, and then throughout the world.” (Diary 47). A local artist in Vilnius painted this Image under St. Faustina’s supervision. It is called the Vilnius Image.
In this Image of The Divine Mercy, we see the resurrected Jesus standing with His hand pointed to His heart. From it red and pale rays emanate. They represent His blood and water and they symbolize His merciful sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism. The words “Jesus, I Trust in You!” are at the bottom.
Jesus appeared to St. Faustina, as He did to the apostles in the Upper Room, as the risen Christ who bears the great message of divine mercy and entrusts its ministry to them. Jesus said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Jn. 20: 21-23).
Saint John Paul II said in his homily at the canonization of St. Faustina on April 30, 2000:
Before speaking these words, Jesus shows His hands and His side. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in His heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity. From that heart St. Faustina will see two rays of light shining from that heart and illuminating the world: “The two rays,” Jesus Himself explained to her one day, “represent blood and water.” (Diary 299).
Blood and water! We immediately think of the testimony given by the Evangelist John, who, when a solider on Calvary pierced Christ’s side with his spear, sees blood and water flowing from it. (Cf. Jn. 19:34). Moreover, if the blood recalls the sacrifice of the Cross and the gift of the Eucharist, the water, in Johannine symbolism, represents not only Baptism but also the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Cf. Jn. 3:5; 4:14; 7:37-39).
Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the heart of Christ crucified, “My daughter, say that I am love and mercy personified,” Jesus will ask St. Faustina, (Diary, p. 374), the Pope continued. Christ pours out this mercy on humanity though the sending of the Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person-Love. And is not mercy love’s “second name” (cf. Rich in Mercy in misericordia, n. 7), understood in its deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the burden of any need and, especially, in its immense capacity for forgiveness?
Jesus told St. Faustina that “when you go to Confession, to this fountain of my mercy, the blood and water which came forth from my heart always flows down upon your soul and ennoble it.” (Diary 1602). However, Jesus taught us that man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but is also called to practice mercy towards others. He said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Mt. 5: 7). He also showed us the many paths of mercy, which not only forgives sins but reaches out to all human needs. Jesus bent over every kind of human poverty, material and spiritual.
He continued in his homily that merciful and compassionate love must inspire humanity today, if it is to face the crisis of the meaning of life, the challenges of the most diverse needs and, especially, the duty to defend the dignity of every human person. Thus the message of divine mercy is also implicitly a message about the value of every human being. Each person is precious in God’s eyes; Christ gave His life for each one; to everyone the Father gives His Spirit and offers intimacy. The Pope said:
This consoling message is addressed above all to those who, afflicted by a particularly harsh trial or crushed by the weight of the sins they committed, have lost all confidence in life and are tempted to give in to despair. To them the gentle face of Christ is offered; those rays from His heart touch them and shine upon them, warm them, show them the way and fill them with hope. How many souls have been consoled by the prayer “Jesus, I trust in you,” which Providence intimated through St. Faustina! This simple act of abandonment to Jesus dispels the thickest clouds and lets a ray of light penetrate every life. “Jesus, I trust in you.”
Saint John Paul II entrusted the world to the Divine Mercy when he dedicated a shrine erected in a suburb of Krakow on August 18, 2002. During his homily the Pope preached, “In this shrine, I wish solemnly to entrust the world to Divine Mercy. I do so with the burning desire that the message of God’s merciful love, proclaimed here through St. Faustina, may be made known to all the peoples of the earth and fill their hearts with hope.”
“How greatly today’s world needs God’s mercy! In every continent, from the depth of human suffering, a cry of mercy seems to rise up,” he exclaimed.
“Where hatred and the thirst for revenge dominate, where war brings suffering and death to the innocent, there the grace of mercy is needed in order to settle human minds and hearts and to bring about peace,” the Pope continued.
“Wherever respect for life and human dignity are lacking, there is need of God’s merciful love, in whose light we see the inexpressible value of every human being,” he added. “Mercy is needed in order to ensure that every injustice in the world will come to an end in the splendor of truth.”
At the end, the Pope quoted Jesus’ words as recorded in St. Faustina’s diary: “From here, there must go forth ‘the spark which will prepare the world for his final coming.’” (Diary 1732)
“This spark needs to be lighted by the grace of God,” the Holy Father stressed. “This fire of mercy needs to be passed on to the world. In the mercy of God the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness!”
Saint John Paul II canonized St. Faustina, promoted the Divine Mercy Devotion and declared the Sunday after Easter to be Divine Mercy Sunday. He also signed a special Papal Blessing for “all the faithful worldwide who join in offering the Divine Mercy Chaplet . . . for mothers, that they not abort their offspring; for infants in danger of being put to death in the womb; for a change of heart of providers of abortions and of their collaborators; for human victims of stem cell research, genetic manipulation, cloning and euthanasia; and for all entrusted with the government of peoples, that they may promote the Culture of Life, so as to put an end to the Culture of Death.”
Saint John Paul II died on the Vigil of the Feast of the Divine Mercy on April 2, 2005. He wrote his last message to the world on Divine Mercy Sunday. The Pope wrote:
To humanity, which at times seems to be lost and dominated by the power of evil, egoism and fear, the risen Lord offers as a gift his love that forgives, reconciles and reopens the spirit to hope.
It is love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much need the world has to understand and accept Divine Mercy! Lord, who with your death and resurrection reveal the love of the Father, we believe in you and with confidence repeat to you today: “Jesus, I trust in you, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
Protection from Punishments through the Chaplet and Image of Divine Mercy
St. Faustina suffered greatly for the sins of abortion. She said that she did this “in order to offer reparation to God for the souls murdered in the wombs of wicked mothers.” (Diary 1276). When she prayed the Chaplet of Mercy for the first time, the angel of God’s justice for the sin of abortion became helpless and could not carry out the deserved punishment. (Diary 474, 475)
Jesus told her, “I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Hear. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so; My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy. (Diary 848,1146,1160,1588). These rays shield souls from the wrath of My Father. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him.” (Diary 299). I will save those cities and houses in which this Image will be found. (Fr. Sopocko).
Jesus told St. Faustina, “I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world.” (Diary 47). “I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory.” (Diary 48). “By means of this Image I shall be granting many graces to souls; so let every soul have access to it.” (Diary 570). “I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: ‘Jesus, I Trust in You.’ ” (Diary 327)
Jesus also told St. Faustina, “I will likewise protect the persons who will honor and trust in My Mercy. (Fr. Sopocko) Say the Chaplet I have taught you, and the storm will cease.” (Diary 1731). “Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy“. (Diary 699)
Jesus revealed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to St. Faustina. He said, “I desire to grant unimaginable graces to souls who trust in My mercy. . . . Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.”
Works of Mercy
Jesus told St. Faustina, “Before the Day of Justice, I am sending the Day of Mercy… ” (Diary 1588) “I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of [sinners]. But woe to them if they do not recognize this time of My visitation. . . .” (Diary 1160). “While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy. . . .” (Diary 848). “He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice.” (Diary 1146).
As Jesus is merciful, so too must we be merciful and so we must practice the works of mercy – the spiritual and corporal works of mercy – such as visiting the sick and imprisoned, consoling the sorrowful and praying for the living and the dead. Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25 that we will be judged by our works of mercy because “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Jesus also told St. Faustina, “I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. Your are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it.” (Diary 742). He wants us to be merciful in word, prayer and deed.
St. Faustina said, “For there are three ways of performing an act of mercy: the merciful word, by forgiving and by comforting; secondly, if you can offer no word, then pray – that too is mercy; and thirdly, deeds of mercy. And when the Last Day comes, we shall be judged from this, and on this basis we shall receive the eternal verdict.” (Diary 1158).
Jesus told St. Faustina, “Write this for many souls who are often worried because they do not have the material means with which to carry out an act of mercy. Yet spiritual mercy, which requires neither permissions or storehouses, is much more meritorious and is within the grasp of every soul. If a soul does not exercise mercy somehow or other, it will not obtain My mercy on the day of judgment. . . . Oh, if only souls knew how to gather eternal treasures for themselves, they would not be judged, for they would forestall My judgement with their mercy.” (Diary 1317).
Jesus told St. Faustina to spread His devotion.
“Do whatever is within your power to spread devotion to My mercy. I will make up for what you lack. Tell aching mankind to snuggle close to My merciful Heart, and I will fill it with peace.” (Diary 1074). Jesus promised, “Souls who spread the honor of My mercy I shield through their entire life as a tender mother her infant, and at the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but the Merciful Savior.” (Diary 1075).
Jesus told St. Faustina, “Mankind will not have peace until it turns to The Fount of My Mercy. (Diary 699). These rays shield souls from the wrath of my father. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him. (Diary 299). I will save those cities and houses in which this Image will be found. I will likewise protect the persons who will honor and trust in My Mercy.” (Father Sopoko’s Diary).
In his last book Saint John Paul II wrote, “The limit imposed upon evil is ultimately Divine Mercy.”