(Image taken from News.VA Official Vatican Network)
Pope Francis on his second anniversary in March 2015, declared a jubilee year of Mercy to be interpreted as a powerful signal of his commitment to reforming the Church. Holy Years, or Jubilees, are normally held every 25 years. He intended to call this extraordinary Holy Year to focus on the Church’s mission, “to be a witness of mercy in the world.” It is no coincidence that Pope Francis decided to announce this Holy Year at a ceremony dedicated to confession, the sacrament of forgiveness and mercy. Pope Francis January 11th, 2015
“There is so much need of mercy today, and it is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it into different social environments. Go forth! We are living in the age of mercy, this is the age of mercy.”
It is also no coincidence that he is making it official today, the day before Divine Mercy Sunday. The jubilee year will begin on December 8 and run until November 20, 2016. December 8 is one of the holiest dates in the Catholic calendar as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and is also the date on which the Vatican II Council closed in 1965. Cardinal Kasper says,
the Holy Year is a “genial initiative and a prophetic voice” because mercy “corresponds to the signs of the times today”. God’s mercy, he says, is central to the message of Jesus himself so the Pope is placing it at the centre of our discussions, reflections and prayer for this coming year so that we can recognize “the real face of God” which is often misunderstood as a punishing, insidious, even violent God. Secondly, the cardinal says, we are all sinners and need to be merciful to our neighbours and learn how to apologise for our failures…
DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
In the year 2000, at the canonization of St. Faustina, Pope John Paul II established Divine Mercy Sunday on the second Sunday of Easter. He stated, “it as the answer to the world’s problems and the message for the third millennium.” He also said this day is the happiest day of my life. It is no wonder that he died on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday.
The messages that Jesus gave to St. Faustina to write in her diary is not new to the teachings of the Catholic Church. They just focus strongly on the mercy of Christ to the Church and his followers. We continue to turn to her for intercession and to remember the messages given to her. This feast is not only a day in particular for worshipping God in His mystery of mercy, but also a time of grace for all people. The Lord Jesus said: “I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls and especially for poor sinners” (Diary,699). “Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation, that is, recourse to My Mercy. If they do not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity” (cf. Diary, 965, 998).
The greatness of this feast will be measured by the measure of extraordinary promises that the Lord attached to this feast: Jesus said “…. Whoever approached the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete remission of sins and punishment” (Diary, 300), and also, “On this day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My Mercy.…… Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet” (Diary,699).
Jesus requested to St. Faustina, in 1931, His will regarding the painting of the Image and a Divine Mercy Devotion: “I desire that there be a Feast of Mercy. I want this image, which you will paint with a brush, to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy” (Diary, 49).
All of St. Faustina’s messages from Jesus in her diary are approved and supported by the Catholic Church. In 2002, the Pope entrusted the whole world to Divine Mercy. He consecrated the International Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, a suburb of Krakow in Poland where St. Faustina’s mortal remains are entombed.
Learning about St. Faustina http://www.marypages.com/FaustinaEng.htm
Hopefully, your Church will have a celebration dedicated to Divine Mercy Sunday that you can attend. The services are usually at the 3pm hour the hours considered to be Jesus’ death. There is a plenary indulgence offered to all who attend. You can learn the details to obtain one here http://www.divinemercysunday.com/plenary_indulgence.htm
Definition of a plenary indulgence:
A partial indulgence removes part of the temporal punishment due for sins. A plenary indulgence removes all of it. This punishment may come either in this life, in the form of various sufferings or in the next life, in purgatory.