Up Front and Personal

Divine Mercy Will Strengthen You

By Veronica Szczygiel, Ph.D 

My devotion to Divine Mercy started during the pandemic. Like many people, I felt anxious about all the things I couldn’t control, which, at that time, seemed like everything. One day, I was listening to Drew Mariani on Relevant Radio recite the Divine Mercy chaplet. Then it clicked. Where better to bring my worries than to Jesus’ unfathomable divine mercy? 

The message of Divine Mercy was revealed in great detail to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a young, sickly nun in Poland, in the 1920s and ’30s. Jesus appeared to St. Faustina many times, requesting that she keep a diary of her spiritual life and their interactions, now published as the “Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska.” During this time, Jesus also asked Sister Faustina to help have his portrait painted. In 1934, the artist Eugeniusz Kazimirowski completed the iconic image we know well today. 

St. Faustina’s testimony helps us realize that God is infinitely merciful. Jesus said to her and us, “Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you” (“Diary,” 1488). He wants us to fully and wholly trust him: “[D]o not be afraid of what will happen to you. I will give you nothing beyond your strength” (“Diary,” 1491). Total trust in God allows for the fulfillment of his will in our lives. 

In 2000, on the same day St. Pope John Paul II canonized St. Faustina, he decreed that Divine Mercy Sunday be officially added to the Church calendar and celebrated on the Sunday after Easter, just as Jesus had requested. 

Many parishes in Brooklyn and Queens hold special events. For instance, my parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Greenpoint often has a procession and 3 p.m. devotions. The Divine Mercy Parish in Brooklyn holds a special Mass and catered lunch at St. Cecilia’s. You can explore local church offerings in your area through their websites and parish bulletins. Or, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can drive about two and a half hours north to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, to visit the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy. 

We can also incorporate Divine Mercy into our daily lives. We can start by praying the Divine Mercy chaplet, especially at 3 p.m., the hour of Jesus’ death and when the gates of his mercy open wide. We should also practice mercy by being kind, understanding, and forgiving to others, especially those who have hurt us. It’s not easy, but as Jesus told St. Faustina, “Strive for meekness and humility; be merciful to others, as I am to you; and, when you feel your strength failing, if you come to the fountain of mercy to fortify your soul, you will not grow weary on your journey” (“Diary,” 1486). 

Veronica Szczygiel, Ph.D., is the assistant director of online learning of the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University.