What is Divine Mercy? — By Fr. Rich, O.P.

FrRichWebThese questions and answers are from a blog by Jimmy Akin, published April 4, 2013 from the National Catholic Register. Although this is not an exhaustive list of questions and answers, perhaps it offers enough that those who are curious might be encouraged to search further.

What is Divine Mercy Sunday?
Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter. It is based on the private revelations of St. Faustina Kowalska, which recommended a particular devotion to the Divine Mercy.

When was it made part of the Church’s calendar?
In 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized St. Faustina and, during the ceremony, he declared: “It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.'”

What does the Church do to encourage the celebration of devotion to the Divine Mercy on this day?
Among other things, it offers a plenary indulgence: to ensure that the faithful would observe this day with intense devotion, the Supreme Pontiff [John Paul II] himself established that this Sunday be enriched by a plenary indulgence, as will be explained below, so that the faithful might receive in great abundance the gift of the consolation of the Holy Spirit.

In this way, they can foster a growing love for God and for their neighbor, and after they have obtained God’s pardon, they in turn might be persuaded to show a prompt pardon to their brothers and sisters … a plenary indulgence, granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”).

What is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy?
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a set of prayers used as part of the Divine Mercy devotion. They are usually said using a standard set of Rosary beads, often at 3 p.m. (the time of Jesus’ death) but with a different set of prayers than those used in the Marian Rosary.

How did Jesus empower the apostles to forgive or retain sins?
That part of the text reads: Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” He thus gave them a special empowerment with the Holy Spirit to forgive or retain sins.

How does this relate to the sacrament of confession?
Jesus empowered the apostles (and their successors in ministry) with the Holy Spirit to either forgive or retain (not forgive) sins.

Because they are empowered with God’s Spirit to do this, their administration of forgiveness is efficacious — it really removes sin rather than just being a symbol of forgiveness a person is already thought to have obtained.

Because they are instructed to forgive or retain, they must discern which they are to do. This means that they need to know about the sin and whether we are truly repentant of it. As a result, we must tell them about the sin and our sorrow for it. Hence: confession.