This Sunday (April 8) the Church celebrates the feast of Divine Mercy. It does so because Christ, in revelations to a young Polish nun in the 1930s, requested that the Church proclaim the first Sunday after Easter the feast of Mercy. While the Church has always taught that God is merciful and forgiving, the Divine Mercy message urges all to a deeper understanding of that mercy, an understanding that God’s love is available to all, even the worst sinners. But many years were to pass before the feast was proclaimed, and it might not have happened at all were it not for the crucial intervention of a Polish bishop. It’s an astonishing story and you can learn all about it – and the importance of Divine Mercy to the Church today – from FORMED.
In The Second Greatest Story Ever Told, an audio presentation, Father Michael Gaitley tells about Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, the humble Polish nun whom Christ asked to be “the secretary of My Mercy” – to record his message to the world – and Bishop Karol Wojtyla, who urged the Vatican to reconsider a ban it had once placed on her writings, in large part because of shoddy translations. After being provided more accurate material, the Vatican changed its mind and lifted the ban early in 1978. Five months later, in October of 1978, Bishop Wojtyla was elected pope and proclaiming the message of Divine Mercy became central to his papacy. (How central? Father Gaitley tells us that on April 30, 2000, at a banquet following the canonization of St. Faustina, Pope John Paul declared: “Today is the happiest day of my life.”)
If you prefer video, you have two good choices, Ocean of Mercy and The Face of Mercy. The first is more historical, looking at the role of Divine Mercy in the lives of three now famous Poles: Karol Wojtyla, Sister Faustina, and Father Maximilian Kolbe. The other, The Face of Mercy, is narrated by actor Jim Caviezel. In addition to telling of Sister Faustina and John Paul, this film shows the face of Divine Mercy in lives today, including a former professional football player who now lives the message of Divine Mercy by caring for the homeless in New York and a Rwandan woman who says the message of Divine Mercy helped her forgive the murderers of her family.