Brandon's Notepad

April 5, 2013

Divine Mercy

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This Easter week, I am reminded once again that Divine Mercy Sunday is approaching and that full celebration of this feast is rewarded with a full pardon of temporal punishment of sin. For one reason or another, I end up looking for the details on this topic every year, so I figured it was high time I take some notes. Also, I own a copy of the diary and if I ever get around to actually reading it, I will post the notes here.

The Devotion

This devotion to God’s merciful love originated from apparitions of Jesus to Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who lived in the first half of the 20th century. She kept a record of these visions in her diary. The devotion includes several aspects, including an icon, a chaplet that can be said using an ordinary set of rosary beads, and a novena. All of these are found easily online, so for the sake of brevity, they will not be expounded upon here. It is also noteworthy that a number of Anglicans practice this devotion as well.

Divine Mercy Sunday

Full celebration of this feast day carries with it a plenary indulgence, the conditions for which are outlined in a Decree made by the Apostolic Penitentiary in 2002:

  • Usual conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion, prayers for the Pope’s intentions
  • Complete detachment from affection for sin (including venial sin)
  • A special devotion:
    • Prayers and devotions specifically held in honor of the Divine Mercy of Christ, or
    • Recitation of the Pater Noster and Credo and a devout prayer to the merciful Lord in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament (exposed or reserved)

Meeting the first requirement, the usual conditions for the granting of a plenary indulgence, is an expression of our desire to be one with the Body of Christ, the Church, the Communion of Saints. Complete detachment from the affection for sin means placing one’s entire trust in the Lord and not in worldly securities. This is not the same thing as sorrow for sins already committed (which is covered in sacramental confession above), but is an expression of the will to oppose sin. [And I would personally argue that this is above and beyond a simple pledge to avoid sin, which is also covered in confession as part of the Act of Contrition, for one can still have an affection for a sin and yet refuse to participate in it.] The special devotions are also expressions of the will, the soul begging for mercy from God, an outward sign of inward longing. One popular devotion is the veneration of the Divine Mercy icon, which also finds origin in the visions to Saint Faustina. The novena, said starting on Good Friday, and regular recitation of the chaplet are two ways to prepare oneself for this great feast.

Remember, an indulgence is a remission of temporal punishment for sin (i.e. Purgatory; a full remission in this case) and not an escape from eternal punishment for the unrepentant. Devotions such as these do not add to that which is necessary for salvation, but only provide a way by which one may lead a more holy life in accordance with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The devotion is predicated on sincere repentance, a turning of the heart away from sin and toward God, so unless one amends one’s life and begins to truly practice mercy in imitation of Christ, the act of devotion is deluded if not completely devoid of meaning.


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