One of the very special graces that the Lord Jesus promised to St. Faustina for the “Feast of Mercy” is a “complete remission of sins and punishments” for those who will receive Holy Communion in the state of grace (several passages mention going to Confession in preparation for this Holy Communion) with “complete trust” in His Divine Mercy. Our Lord equates this “special grace” to being a renewal of the grace of baptism — in other words, our souls are cleansed once again, just as they were at our baptism.
Now, this grace is NOT a sacrament, and we are not being “baptized again,” but our souls are being cleansed again, and this is, indeed a very special grace. But some might ask: how is this any different from obtaining a plenary indulgence? Doesn’t that also remit all the punishments (temporal punishment, that we would need to take care of through penances and/or purgatory)? Yes, a plenary indulgence also cleanses us, but here is the difference:
With a Plenary Indulgence, we must fulfill the following conditions (if we fall short on any of them, we receive a partial indulgence, not a full, or “plenary” one):
- Go to Confession within two weeks before or after the day that we want to receive the indulgence.
- Receive Holy Communion in the state of Sanctifying Grace.
- Perform the indulgenced “work” — Eucharistic Adoration, Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament or with our family, make a pilgrimage, etc. (there are many possibilities).
- Pray for the Holy Father’s intentions (usually an Our Father and Apostles Creed)
- Have Complete Detachment from all of our sins.
Now, the hardest one to do is to be completely detached from our sins, and this is where many of us fall short! So Our Blessed Lord makes things easier for us on Divine Mercy Sunday; you could say that He “lowers the bar” by requiring only:
- Holy Communion in the State of Grace (Confession to prepare us for that).
- Complete Trust in His Infinite Mercy
- Performance of an Act of Mercy — so doing one of the Corporal or Spiritual Works of Mercy on behalf of another person. An easy one: pray for the living and the dead — so pray for someone who you know is in need of Divine Mercy.
But what about now, in this time of the Coronavirus Pandemic, this time of plague in which most Catholics are not allowed to receive the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion? Well, God’s Mercy is not going to be stopped by any government officials who have ordered the churches closed, nor by any prudence or fear of our Shepherds who have restricted access to the sacraments! God’s Mercy, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, is His Love, but turned toward Sinners — and, as St. John tells us, “God is Love”! So the Infinite Love and Mercy of our Divine Savior will not be stifled by restrictions on the public celebrations of Mass or the distribution of Holy Communion — so have that Complete Trust, and make an Act of Spiritual Communion, asking the Lord Jesus to come and to fill your heart and soul with His Grace, Love and Mercy on this great Feast of Divine Mercy!