“… After eight days [after the Feast of Easter] let there be another feast observed with honor, the eighth day itself on which He [Jesus] gave me Thomas, who was hard of belief, full assurance, by showing me the print of the nails, and the wound made in His side by the spear.”
St. Thomas the Apostle, writing in The Apostolic Constitutions (Book 5, Chapter 19)
In 1931, Sister Faustina (now a canonized saint) received a vision of Our Lord. Jesus was clothed in a white robe and His right hand was making a blessing while the left was touching His heart. From that point, two large rays of light were emitted. One was red and the other was pale. St. Faustina stared at Jesus with awe and with great joy. Our Lord then said asked her to paint the image of Him that she saw with the text “Jesus, I trust in You” at the bottom. A promise was made that those who venerate this image would not perish and they would also have victory over their enemies, especially at the hour of death. What followed over the next several years were extensive apparitions from Jesus on Divine Mercy. One request from Our Lord was to establish a feast the first Sunday after Easter, “Yes the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy, and I demand the worship of My mercy through the solemn celebration of the Feast and through the veneration of the image which is painted. By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works” (742). On this day, a remarkable event would take place. Our Lord said that “the soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy” (Diary 1109). In other words, a plenary indulgence may be obtained on the Feast of Divine Mercy. Just imagine. All of your sins that would have led to a lengthy time of expiation in Purgatory can be forgiven. You can skip Purgatory and go straight to Heaven, assuming that you don’t sin from that point onwards. All of your sins up to that point will be forgiven. For those interested in self improvement, this is a great thing to do. An even better thing to do with this indulgence is to transfer it to someone else, more specifically, someone in Purgatory. A partial indulgence given to a holy soul in Purgatory remits part of their sin, shortening their time there by a particular amount (depending on the nature of the indulgence). A plenary indulgence for a holy soul completely remits all of their sins and they immediately enter Heaven. So, instead of applying the plenary indulgence from the Feast of Divine Mercy to yourself, give it to a suffering saint. In order to make a plenary indulgence, three conditions must be met: go to confession, receive communion, and pray for the intentions of the Pope (usually an Our Father and Hail Mary). There is one catch, though. There can be no sin committed, not even a venial one, while attempting to make this indulgence. Doing so would turn the indulgence into a partial one. It’s difficult to make a plenary indulgence. This is why it’s a good idea to perform the conditions close to each other. It may have been a long time since your last confession but this shouldn’t prevent you from receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our Lord Jesus said, “The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet…. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy” (699). Helping a soul in Purgatory has other benefits. When we pray for them and lessen their time there, they in gratitude will pray for us. Padre Pio said that “if one knew what we may obtain from God by the intercession of the Holy Souls, they would not be so much abandoned.”If our prayers will free a holy soul, they will pray unceasingly in Heaven for our salvation. So on the first Sunday after Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, offer your plenary indulgence for a suffering saint and your future eternal life will be secured.