It was at that point that Jesus asked her to recreate this image with the words "Jesus I trust in You" included. He said also that the soul that would venerate this Image shall not perish! After this vision, among others St. Faustina recorded in her journal all her interactions and in 1933 she met Fr. Michal Sopocko who had her psychologically tested to which she passed. From this point on the message of Divine Mercy spread, yet not without controversy.
The controversy is surrounded in the point that Jesus offered on Divine Mercy Sunday the forgiveness of all temporal punishment and all negative effect from sin if the participant simply participated in Reconciliation and received the Holy Eucharist on Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter). This is more powerful than even a Partial or even Plenary Indulgence and as some Cardinals worried, undermined the Sacraments. Some even worried that the graces of Mercy offered on Divine Mercy Sunday were so powerful that they were equivalent to a second baptism.
As a quick theology note, all apparitions (private revelations) are investigated and as logic dictates, approved visions cannot contradict or undermine the already given dogma Jesus left us in God's final public revelation (Jesus Christ walking and teaching on earth). We must be very discerning of visions or spirits because as Paul says, "If even an Angel [in all it's splendor from Heaven] comes preaching a different Gospel" not to give ear as it could lead souls to Hell (Gal 1:8). The devil is crafty, even deceitful, and can mimic God's power but is limited in the sense that Satan cannot use God's infinitely creative powers, nor stand blessed objects. Just think, while Jesus Himself was tempted in the desert, Satan himself used scripture to try to trick Jesus into sin, should we expect different?
In response Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani tries to convince Pope John XXIII to ban devotion to Divine Mercy. On March 6th of 1959 the Holy Office sent out a notice banning devotion to the image of Divine Mercy as well as any related writings including St. Faustinas diary. Then in 1965 Archbishop of Krakow Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II) asked that the case on Sr. Faustina be reopened. Finally on April 15th, 1978 The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith rescinded the ban issued 19 years prior and the message of Divine Mercy was spread once again!
As a huge surprise Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Poland was elected Pontiff (Pope John Paul II) and it was under his service to the Church as Vicar of Christ that Sr. Faustina was canonized, and the feast of Divine Mercy became part of the Roman Calendar as it is today.
The message of Divine Mercy is simple, it is the message that God above all things has great care for each and every one of us and His Mercy is great! We love with a worldly love and give mercy with a worldly mercy but God's love and mercy, indeed all His thoughts are far above our broken ways. Often times when we consider God's Justice we think of being slapped with a ruler but God's Justice is of the sort that makes us wish to be in relationship with Him rather then simply fear punishment. When we are furthest from Him it is the easiest to be lured by Satan's trickery whispering in our ears how unworthy we are or what a hypocrite we might be like, as Satan often has us presume, all the other followers of Jesus. Ultimately we realize that we all in the Church strive to live like Jesus, no matter how saintly or sinful our brothers and sisters in Christ and in Church may seem to be.
Lastly, for a bit of perspective, as recounted in Revelation and from the lips of our Blessed Lord quite clearly there is real need to fear Hell and in point of fact that there will be souls residing there. This message of Divine Mercy does not mean that we do not need to make an effort in relationship with God. Those of whom knew the Gospel and rejected God's mercy outright and also rejected the notion of mercy towards others will find themselves in the great pain of being separated from God eternally. If we should simply resign ourselves to God's Mercy and be merciful to others we will be a long way in a redeeming relationship with God.
So, this Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday and I heartily encourage you to go to Reconciliation (within 8 days of this Sunday) and receive the Holy Eucharist this Sunday in order to receive the benefits afforded this day by Jesus Christ. In fact there is a great opportunity at our parish this Sunday which includes Reconciliation, a Holy Hour, Holy Mass, and so much more! I also encourage you to learn more about the Divine Mercy Chaplet as well as read St. Faustina's diary which is a great read!
Lastly I have a helpful tool for remembering what Divine Mercy is all about, it's as simple as A,B,C!
If you have any questions about Divine Mercy please feel free to comment below, I will try to answer as many questions as I can!
I write this with thanks and acknowledgements to Dr. Taylor Marshall
Husband & father of four, graduate from Quincy University and currently a grad student at Franciscan University. Director of Faith Formation & Youth Ministry for All Saints Parish since 2011.