The various devotions to the Divine Mercy are most often practiced between Good Friday and Divine Mercy Sunday, but they can be prayed at any time of the year. What is Divine Mercy Sunday, how did the feast come to be celebrated, what devotions does the Catholic Church encourage the faithful to practice in honor of the Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ, and to whom were these devotions revealed?
Divine Mercy Sunday:
The Feast of Divine Mercy, celebrated on the Octave of Easter (the Sunday after Easter Sunday), is a relatively new addition to the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Celebrating the Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ, as revealed by Christ Himself to Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, this feast was extended to the entire Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II on April 30, 2000, the day that he canonized Saint Faustina.
Known as the Apostle of the Divine Mercy, Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Most Blessed Sacrament was a Polish nun who receive frequent revelations and visits from Christ from 1931 until her death in 1938. The Divine Mercy Novena, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and the 3 O'Clock devotions were revealed by Christ to Saint Faustina.
The Divine Mercy Novena:
Christ revealed the prayers for the Divine Mercy Novena, a nine-day prayer, to Saint Faustina and asked her to recite the novena starting on Good Friday and ending on Divine Mercy Sunday. The novena can recited at any time of the year, however, and it is often accompanied by the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
The Divine Mercy Chaplet:
The Divine Mercy Chaplet was revealed by Our Lord to Saint Faustina. On Good Friday 1937, Christ appeared to Saint Maria Faustina and asked her to recite this chaplet for nine days, starting on Good Friday and ending on Divine Mercy Sunday.
While the chaplet is most often recited during those nine days (in conjunction with the Divine Mercy Novena), it can be prayed at any time of the year, and Saint Maria Faustina herself recited it almost unceasingly. A standard rosary can be used to recite the chaplet.
The 3 O'Clock Devotion:
Saint Faustina recorded these words of Our Lord in her diary: "At 3 O’clock, implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy for the whole world. I will allow you to enter into My mortal sorrow. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion."
From this has come the practice of reciting the Divine Mercy Chaplet every day at 3 P.M.
Indulgences Attached to the Divine Mercy Devotions:
A plenary indulgence (the forgiveness of all temporal punishment resulting from sins that have already been confessed) is granted on Divine Mercy Sunday to all of the faithful who go to Confession, receive Holy Communion, pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, and "in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honour of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. 'Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!')."
A partial indulgence (the remission of some temporal punishment from sin) is granted on Divine Mercy Sunday to the faithful "who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus a legitimately approved invocation."