By Colleen Pressprich
Divine Mercy Sunday is always celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. This makes it a moveable feast within the Church’s liturgical year since Easter also shifts.
On Divine Mercy Sunday we, as a Church, focus on the incredible mercy of Christ, on the wonder that is His dying and rising for us even though we do not deserve it. It is an opportunity to focus on what mercy means and how we are called to live it out in our own lives.
Where did the feast come from?
In 1931 a young sister in Poland named Faustina began having visions of Jesus. In her diary, she recorded her conversations with the Lord, most of which centered around the great need the world has for the Lord’s love and mercy. Tied to this was a call to trust in Jesus more and more.
Faustina received an image of Christ with two rays emanating from His heart- one blue and one red for the water and blood that poured from His side. Underneath was the message “Jesus, I trust in You.” Today this image is known as the Divine Mercy Jesus.
Jesus also asked Faustina for a feast in honor of His mercy. This feast was instituted for the universal Church (meaning all Catholics throughout the world celebrate it) by Pope Saint John Paul II in 2000, at the same time that Saint Faustina was canonized.
How can you celebrate it as a family?
There are many wonderful ways to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday as a family.
Learn about mercy
Mercy is extending kindness to those who don’t deserve it as well as forgiving those who deserve discipline. If this is a new feast for your family, a great way to start is by spending some time talking about what mercy is and what it looks like in the world today.
Read a biography or color a picture
It’s a wonderful day to read a biography about Saint Faustina or color a picture of her. Learning more about her life can help us understand why Jesus chose her for this important message and the way we should respond to it.
Make a small pilgrimage
If you aren’t lucky enough to live near the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA, you can always make a pilgrimage locally. Many parishes display a Divine Mercy image for this feast day. See if you can find one near you. Spend some time in the quiet of the church and look at it. What catches your children’s eyes? What does it make them think about?
Pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet
This is my favorite way to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. The Divine Mercy Chaplet, given to St. Faustina by Christ, is prayed on rosary beads but takes about half the time. You can find directions online. The Marian Brothers have recorded versions as well on the Shrine’s website. This beautiful set of prayers begs the Lord’s mercy down upon us and our whole world.
Colleen Pressprich is the author of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children. She is a former missionary and former Montessori teacher who seeks to use the lessons learned in the mission field and the classroom to help grow the domestic church.