The time of God’s abundant mercy is at hand, Alleluia! All Catholics have the most amazing opportunity today, Divine Mercy Sunday, not only to receive the complete forgiveness of their sins, but also the full remission of temporal punishment for these sins! Furthermore, we can choose to assign this indulgence to a deceased friend or loved one rather than claiming it for ourselves. What a wonderful gift we can give them!

What Do I Have to Do to Receive this Indulgence?
(see this post for more information about indulgences)
To receive the plenary indulgence available on Divine Mercy Sunday, you must fulfill these conditions:

  • Sacramental confession within about 20 days before or after
  • Receive the Eucharist
  • A prayer for the intentions of the Pope
  • In any church or chapel take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy
    or
    in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament pray the Our Father and the Creed, adding a prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”)

You must be in the state of grace, at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed. This means that you must not have committed a mortal sin without going to confession. For a plenary Indulgence, it is further required that all attachment to sin — including venial sin — be absent.

Indulgences can always be applied either to yourself or to the souls of the deceased.

What Does the Catechism Say About Indulgences?
Let’s hear from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) about indulgences:

1471 The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance.

What is an indulgence?

“An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.” 

“An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.” The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead. 

1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain. 

1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.” 

1478 An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity. 

1479 Since the faithful departed now being purified are also members of the same communion of saints, one way we can help them is to obtain indulgences for them, so that the temporal punishments due for their sins may be remitted.

1496 The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:

– reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;

– reconciliation with the Church;

– remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;

– remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;

– peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;

– an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.

 

All Catholics are invited to receive the amazing grace of a plenary indulgence on Divine Mercy Sunday. EWTN states the clear benefit very simply:

A plenary indulgence means that by the merits of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, the full remission of the temporal punishment due to sacramentally forgiven sins is obtained. The person becomes as if just baptized and would fly immediately to heaven if he died in that instant.

 

I can’t emphasize enough how wonderful this opportunity is that Mother Church offers us! Not only will we receive the forgiveness of our sins by approaching the Fountain of Mercy at this time, as we do whenever we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, be we ALSO receive the full remission of the temporal punishment due us as a result of our sins! This means we would go DIRECTLY to heaven if we were to die at that moment, just like the Saints!

A Little History Regarding this Indult
A Polish nun in the 1930’s, Maria Faustina Kowalska, experienced years of private revelations from Our Lord which are documented in her Diary: Divine Mercy in my Soul. By virtue of a Decree issued on May 5, 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II established the Sunday after Easter Sunday as Divine Mercy Sunday. and granted a plenary indulgence in his Audience on June 13, 2002 to all who approach the Fountain of Mercy on this day. He canonized Saint Faustina a month earlier on April 30, 2000.

More information on Divine Mercy Sunday and the plenary indulgence from EWTN:

During the course of Jesus’ revelations to Saint Faustina on the Divine Mercy He asked on numerous occasions that a feast day be dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. The liturgical texts of that day, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, concern the institution of the Sacrament of Penance, the Tribunal of the Divine Mercy, and are thus already suited to the request of Our Lord.

This Feast, which had already been granted to the nation of Poland and been celebrated within Vatican City, was granted to the Universal Church by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization 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 experience in the years to come.”

These papal acts represent the highest endorsement that the Church can give to a private revelation, an act of  papal infallibility proclaiming the certain sanctity of the mystic, and the granting of a universal feast, as requested by Our Lord to St. Faustina.

Concerning the Feast of Mercy Jesus said:
Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. (Diary 300)

I want the image solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it. (Diary 341)

This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. (Diary 420)

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 for poor sinners. On that 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. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. [our emphasis]

On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow 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 of 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. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary 699)

Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it. (Diary 742)

I want to grant complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy. (Diary 1109)

As you can see the Lord’s desire for the Feast includes the solemn, public  veneration of the Image of Divine Mercy by the Church, as well as personal acts of veneration and mercy. The great promise for the individual soul is that a devotional act of sacramental penance and Communion will obtain for that soul the plenitude of the divine mercy on the Feast.

The Cardinal of Krakow, Cardinal Macharski, whose diocese is the center of the spread of the devotion and the sponsor of the Cause of Sr. Faustina, has written that we should use Lent as preparation for the Feast and confess even before Holy Week! So, it is clear that the confessional requirement does not have to be met on the Feast itself. That would be an impossible burden for the clergy if it did. The Communion requirement is easily met that day, however, since it is a day of obligation, being Sunday. We would only need confession again, if received earlier in Lenten or Easter Season, if we were in the state of mortal sin on the Feast.

 

Let us give thanks to God for his abundant Mercy! Let us approach him in confidence today to receive the complete remission of our sins and the associated temporal punishment for these sins. Let us confidently and gratefully receive the gift of his Inconceivable Mercy. Jesus I trust in You. Alleluia!