How it came about
This devotion came about as a result of visions of Jesus to a Polish nun called Sr. Faustina in which Jesus called for the world to return to His mercy. As she writes in her diary, "In the evening when I was in my cell I saw the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in the gesture of blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From beneath the garment there were emanating two large rays - one red, the other pale. After a while Jesus said to me ' Paint an image according to the pattern you see with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and then throughout the world. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. (47,48) The two rays denote the Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for Water which makes the soul righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonised Heart was opened by a lance on the cross.'"(299)
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Jesus, through Sr. Faustina, gave to the world the opportunity to be saved by His Divine Mercy as he taught her the prayer known as 'The Chaplet of Divine Mercy'. In this prayer we offer to the Father the 'Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity' of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, His Divine Person and His Humanity. We are uniting ourselves to Jesus' sacrifice, offered on the cross for the salvation of the world. However, when we say the words ' we offer You, Your dearly beloved Son' we are appealing to the love that God the Father lavishes upon His Son and through Him all mankind. In many revelations to her, Jesus showed the value of prayer and also conveyed to us the promises attached to it. 'It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the Chaplet' (1541) adding 'if it... be compatible with My will '(1731).
There are special promises given to those who pray this chaplet at the hour of death, and also the dying. Jesus said, ' At the hour of death I will defend as My own glory every soul that will say this chaplet'; or when others say it for a dying person, the indulgence is the same. When this chaplet is said by the beside of a dying person, God's anger is placated, unfathomable mercy envelops the soul (811). Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. 'Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet once, he wodul receive grace from My infinite mercy' (687) 'By saying the chaplet, you are bringing humankind closer to Me'( 929).
How to pray the Chaplet
Using a Rosary:
In the beginning - pray the Our Father, Hail Mary and Apostles' Creed;
On the large beads - Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for my sins and those of the whole world;
On the small beads - For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world (3 times);
At the end - Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world (3 times).
Establishment of the Feast
During the course of Jesus’ revelations to Sr. Faustina on the Divine mercy, He asked on many occasions that a feast day be dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast should be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. The feast was celebrated in Poland and within Vatican City but was spread to the universal church by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonisation of Sr. Faustina on 30 April 2000. In a decree dated 23 May 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that ‘throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will face in years to come.’
From her diary, Sr. Faustina tells us - On one occasion I heard these words: ‘My daughter, tell the whole world about my inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls and especially poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon the souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flows are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. It is my desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter (699).’