“Say unceasingly the Chaplet that I have taught you. Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this Chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite Mercy. I desire that the whole world know My infinite Mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My Mercy.”
Perhaps one of the most interesting phrases in the quotation above is this one – ‘the Chaplet that I have taught you’. The Merciful Lord so desired that we pray for mercy that He took the trouble to teach Saint Faustina precisely what to pray and how to pray. The request was very specific and the form of the prayer was equally specific.
Unlike many other devotions, this particular one was given to us ‘fully formed’, as it were.
The Rosary, for example, developed slowly over time before gradually assuming the form with which we are now familiar. And it continues to be an evolving thing in some ways – a recent example of this being the addition of the Luminous Mysteries, added by St John Paul II not so many years ago. The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, on the other hand, is precisely the same today as it was on the day it was revealed to Saint Faustina.
The purpose of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is intercession – a very particular form of prayer. While we may certainly pray the Chaplet for our own intentions, perhaps it’s real power lies in it’s being offered in intercession for others.
Saint Faustina prayed the Chaplet unceasingly, particularly for those souls nearing death, asking God’s mercy and grace for them in those final moments and asking particularly that they be enabled to really trust in Divine Mercy at that singular moment. The Lord had already told her of it’s power with regard to the dying, promising that for the souls for whom the Chaplet is prayed, He stands as the Merciful Saviour rather than the Just Judge. The Chaplet has great power when offered for the dying.
Saint Faustina also offered the Chaplet in atonement for the sins of others – sometimes for entire cities, as much as for particular souls. She was very well aware that this Chaplet has the power to hold back the just anger of the Almighty Father, so deeply offended by the sins of errant mankind, at both the individual and the collective levels.
The Chaplet has the power of conversion, by the grace of God, as the Lord says in His words above, to His faithful servant. Praying the Chaplet even once will obtain grace for the soul in life and ‘great mercy at the hour of death’. This alone should make us want to pray this Chaplet – not only once, but constantly, unceasingly.
So what is this extraordinary power the Chaplet has?
In praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, we actively live out the graces given to us at our Baptism – the grace of the universal priesthood (as opposed to the sacerdotal priesthood of those who are ordained). Our Baptism calls us to be ‘priest, prophet and king’, to heed and answer the universal call to holiness in this way. It places responsibilities upon us as Christians. One of those responsibilities is to pray for others; and as the Church reminds us, it is a work of mercy to pray for the living and for the dead.
In praying the Chaplet, we offer to the Eternal Father ‘the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity’ of the Lord. We are offering Christ Himself to God the Father; and nothing has such power as the offering of Jesus of Himself to His Father and ours.
This offering has been described in the following way –
The Chaplet offers God a gift that is so holy and so sacred that no human offering could ever compare. It is an offering of the perfect love of Jesus. Some priests have even likened this prayer to Holy Mass, insofar as, at Mass, we also offer God the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus to the Father in atonement for the sins of mankind. Obviously, the fundamental difference between Mass and the Chaplet is that we don’t physically receive the Eucharist every time we pray the Chaplet, but the offering is similar, and it is a spiritual communion, as oppose to a physical communion. The paragraphs in the Diary which refer to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy clearly demonstrate that this prayer may be the most powerful prayer that has ever existed, with the exception of the Mass and the Holy Rosary. (University of Glasgow Catholic Chaplaincy)
And so, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is very much about the conversion, sanctification and salvation of souls – primarily those approaching death. In Saint Faustina’s ‘Diary’ this is very much the way in which the recitation of the Chaplet is presented. It draws down grace for the soul, mercy in death, and serves to appease the anger of God. The Lord is perfectly clear to Saint Faustina that the Chaplet is not for her alone, but He desires that it be known and prayed throughout the entire world.
It is worth noting, too, that in the course of His revelations to Saint Faustina, He is at pains to point out that this Divine Mercy devotion also relates to the end times and His final coming. He tells us clearly that before He comes as the Just Judge, He will come as the Merciful Saviour – the time of Mercy will precede the time of Judgement, but one will signal the approach of the other. He cautioned Saint Faustina to work for this cause “while there is still time” and reminded her that the Divine Mercy devotion is “a sign for the end times”.
This year, celebrating the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, we are constantly placing such an emphasis on the subject of mercy, led very much by our Holy Father, Pope Francis. He is always at pains to call us back to the Gospels, whose very heart is mercy, and to the person of the Merciful Lord, Who walks through the pages of those Gospels and equally, through the pages of the lives of each and every one of us. I cannot help but wonder if this Year of Mercy is a singular point in the history of Salvation and of mankind, a turning point or a milestone, a reminder that for humanity itself, time is running out. These are the days of Mercy. The days of Justice will soon follow.
These days, it seems as though darkness is conquering. The reality, of course, is quite different; in His Passion, Death and Resurrection, the Lord has vanquished darkness and evil for ever and the battle is already won. Evil knows that it’s time is running out. In these days where we see such inhumanity taking place daily, the Divine Mercy devotion offers a reminder, a proof, that compassion and mercy are as powerful now as on that first Good Friday. And surely this is the very thought in our mind as we pray the Chaplet.
With that in mind, may we always pray –
‘For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world’.