If you missed my past columns on Divine Mercy Sunday, think of today's column as a very brief makeup session. I'm going to cover the basics of the holy day, and then its up to you to follow up on it and learn more so you'll be prepared when it rolls around next year.
Divine Mercy Sunday is a feast day that is celebrated universally in the Catholic Church, as well as by some Anglicans. It falls the Sunday after Easter, which is also known as St. Thomas Sunday. Although Catholics have observed Divine Mercy Sunday since 1935, it wasn't officially proclaimed a universal feast day of the church until 2000, when Pope John Paul II proclaimed it as such. Because of John Paul II was so instrumental in bringing Divine Mercy Sunday to the attention of Catholics worldwide, the Vatican chose to have him beautified on that day in 2011, and sainted on that day in 2014.
Still, the idea of Divine Mercy Sunday was not “invented” by the Pope or the Vatican, but rather it came from a Polish nun named Sister Faustina Kowalska, who is now a saint in her own right. In turn, she said she reserved divine inspiration from Jesus Christ himself, who asked her to convince the Catholic Church to institute a new feast day. Sister Faustina wrote down these encounters in her diary, and it came to the attention of Pope Pius XI.
Today, Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated at 3pm, the Sunday after Easter, in Catholic Church worldwide. In addition the prayer service itself, there are many individual prayers that are considered to have special merit if they are said on Divine Mercy Sunday. One major example is the faithful who recite "Merciful Jesus, I Trust in you" before the Divine Mercy image. Catholic teaching holds that they will obtain a plenary indulgence that day. On Divine Mercy Sunday, Jesus' heart is said to be open for the whole world and will answer specific prayers that are asked of Him on that day.
That's a very brief overview of why we have Divine Mercy Sunday, and what it means for Catholics. If you already know about this information, great! If not, now you have something to chew on for next year.