For those unfamiliar with it, the Divine Mercy is a beautiful devotion consisting of several elements to unite our prayers with Jesus’ offering on the Cross. One of those elements is a Novena (nine days of prayer) beginning today, Good Friday. Here's a quick summary:
On February 22, 1931, St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun, saw an apparition of our Lord. He was clothed in a white garment, one hand raised in blessing, and the other slightly parting the garment at his chest. Two large rays, one red and the other pale, emanated from his heart. The Lord directed her to, “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature, ‘Jesus, I trust in You.’ I desire that this image be venerated. . .throughout the world” When asked to explain the image, our Lord responded, “The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. . .These two rays issued from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross.”
“Jesus, I trust in You.” Trust, the absolute conviction that Jesus’ heart is filled with mercy for us, is a striking feature of the devotion. Faustina reported the Lord saying, “The graces of my mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is – trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. . . I am sad when souls ask for little, when they narrow their hearts.”To implore God’s mercy, Jesus imparted a prayer to Faustina. It has become known as the Chaplet of Divine Mercy:
First of all, you will say one Our Father and Hail Mary and the I Believe in God. Then on the Our Father beads you will say the following words: “Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.” On the Hail Mary beads you will say the following words: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.” In conclusion, three times you will recite these words: “Holy God, Holy Might One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
The chaplet recalls the great truths that we are a priestly people (1 Peter 2:9) and that Jesus’ sacrifice is the most precious offering we can bring before the Father, the reason for all the grace that flows to us. With this central truth in mind, we listen to the promise made to Faustina: “My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given to you. It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet. When hardened sinners say it, I will fill their souls with peace, and the hour of their death will be a happy one.”
Jesus further instructed Faustina to immerse herself in prayer for his mercy from 3 to 4 p.m. daily – the hour of his death:
Invoke [My mercy’s] omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners . . . it was the hour of grace for the whole world . . . try your best to make the stations of the Cross in this hour . . . and if you are not able . . . immerse yourself in prayer there where you happen to be, if only for a brief instant.
Jesus also told Faustina that he wanted the Sunday following Easter to be a celebration of Divine Mercy. He promised, “Whoever will go to confession and Holy Communion on that day will receive complete forgiveness of sin and punishment.” In preparation, he requested that Faustina make a yearly novena, nine days of prayer to begin on Good Friday and finish on the Saturday before the feast. “On each day you will bring to My Heart a different group of souls, and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy:”
1. All humanity, especially sinners
2. Priests and religious
3. Devout and faithful souls
4. Non-Christians and atheists
5. Christians not united to the Church
6. The meek and humble, and children
7. Those who glorify and love Jesus’ mercy
8. Souls in purgatory
9. Those who are lukewarm
Like the Solemn Intercessions of Good Friday, these intentions invite us to participate in Jesus’ intercession.
As a matter of private revelation the Church can never make the Divine Mercy Devotion incumbent upon her people. I doubt anyone reading this however would dispute it as a singular way to enter into the intercession Jesus made through his Passion. John Paul II was devoted to it. In the year 2000 he invited the entire Church to turn anew to God’s mercy by establishing the Second Sunday of the Easter season as Divine Mercy Sunday and attaching a plenary indulgence to its celebration – but more on that later.
 Kowalska, Mary Faustina, Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, (Stockbridge, Massachusetts: Marians of the Immaculate Conception, 1996), p.24.
 Ibid, p.139.
 Ibid, p.561.
 Ibid, p.207-208.
 Ibid, p.547.
 Ibid, p.558
 Ibid, p.435. The intentions for each of the nine days are discussed in detail on pp.436-442.