Divine Mercy devotion centers on trust in Jesus

A procession of children placed flowers in vases in front of an image of the Divine Mercy April 8 at St. Patrick Church. Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the second Sunday of Easter. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Catholics who share a strong devotion to Divine Mercy Sunday have a simple mantra — “Jesus I trust in you.”

Divine Mercy Sunday, celebrated on the second Sunday of Easter, was officially added to the church’s calendar in 2000 by St. John Paul II. 

The Polish pope was a long-time devotee of the Divine Mercy devotions of St. Faustina Kowalska, whom he beatified in 1993 and canonized in 2000.

Since then, numerous parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville have started hosting annual Divine Mercy celebrations to mark the feast day.

Doreen DeGeare, one of the organizers of St. Patrick Church’s Divine Mercy celebration, said her life has been transformed by her devotion to the Divine Mercy.

“The message of Divine Mercy is literally that God loves you,” she said in a phone interview last week. “I’ve had hardship in the last few years and it takes the focus off that. I say. ‘Jesus, I trust in you.’ ”

That simple phrase, she said, has become a constant prayer on her lips, one that has strengthened her faith and relationship with God.

Deacon Gary Fowler, a permanent deacon at St. Paul Church, said the message of Jesus’ Divine

Mercy is straightforward: “God loves us, all of us, and he wants us to recognize his great mercy.”

“His mercy is greater than our sins. He wants us to receive his mercy and let it flow out to all his people,” Deacon Fowler said in an interview last week.

Divine Mercy celebrations typically include praying of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy,  the sacrament of reconciliation, eucharistic adoration, rosary, Benediction and veneration of the Divine Mercy image. The image of Divine Mercy, pictured on page one, is based on a vision described by St. Faustina.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is prayed with the help of rosary beads and includes the repetition of the prayer, “For the sake of his sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

Some parishes and individuals also pray a Divine Mercy Novena leading up to the feast day.

Carol Masters, one of the organizers of the Divine Mercy Sunday celebrations at St. Paul, said she developed a love of the Divine Mercy prayers in the 1990s when she lived in West Virginia.

“Knowing how he died for us, he wants us to know there is nothing more powerful than his mercy. Even the most hardened sinner has access to that mercy,” she said.

Masters said her devotion to the Divine Mercy has brought “great peace” in her life.

“Jesus leads us to where we are and wants us to know how much he loves us. I think those words ‘Jesus, I trust in you’ are so powerful,” she said.

Much of the tradition of the Divine Mercy devotion and prayers stem from the diary of St. Faustina. In the 1930s, Jesus appeared to the Polish nun on numerous occasions and asked her to “tell the whole world about my inconceivable mercy.”

In his homily April 8 at an outdoor Mass in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said there are several “closed doors” that must be opened in order to experience God’s love and to understand that God’s mercy “is not simply one of his qualities among others, but the very beating of his heart,” according to an April 9 story from Catholic News Service.

One of those “closed doors,” he said, is remaining resigned to one’s sins.

“In discouragement, we give up on mercy,” he said.

Through the sacrament of reconciliation, Christians are reminded that “it isn’t true that everything remains the way it was,” and absolution allows them “to go forward from forgiveness to forgiveness.”

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