Divine Mercy

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Click here to scroll down to instructions on how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Before explaining what Divine Mercy is, I should define what is “private revelation.” If you already have an understanding, then don’t click the following link.

What is private revelation…?

With all that said (if you read it), that leads me to Divine Mercy.  Essentially, Jesus gave us a clearer understanding of His infinite and divine mercy through private revelations given to a Polish religious sister named St. Maria Faustina Kowalska.

Who is St. Maria Faustina Kowalska?

Her original name is Helena, and she was born into a poor, peasant family in Glogowiec, Poland.  She was the third oldest of ten children, and “from childhood she distinguished herself by her piety, love of prayer, industriousness and obedience as well as by her great sensitivity to human misery” (Diary, xv).  At the age of seven, she started feeling the call to religious life.  Her parents were not keen on letting her join a convent, and she tried repressing her desire to join a convent.  But from a vision of the suffering Jesus, she strengthened her resolve to join a convent.  She ended up in the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw.  There, she received the name Sister Maria Faustina.  She completed her novitiate (basically, the novitiate is the newb stage to religious life) and professed her perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience after five years of being in the convent.  She worked in various houses for the Congregation in different locations in Poland, especially as cook, gardener, and doorkeeper.

Sr. M. Elizbaeth Siepak writes in the Introduction of St. Faustina’s diary:

To all external appearances nothing betrayed her extraordinarily rich mystical life. She zealously went about her duties, she faithfully observed all the religious rules, she was recollected and kept silent, all the while being natural, cheerful, full of kindness and of unselfish love of neighbor.  

Her entire life was concentrated on constant striving for even fuller union with God and on self-sacrificing cooperation with Jesus in the work of saving souls. (Diary, xvi) 

The Lord also endowed her with many graces and gifts.  These include the gift of contemplation with deep knowledge of the mystery of God’s mercy, visions, revelations, the hidden stigmata, the gift of prophecy and reading into human souls, and also the rare gift of mystical espousals.  However, she wrote:

Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God.  …My sanctity and perfection is based upon the close union of my will with the will of God (Diary, par. 1107)

I’m a fan of that last sentence.  She willed to align her will to that of God’s will.

As she grew older, she started having health problems.  And sometimes she experienced a profound spiritual suffering known as the “dark night” where a soul doesn’t receive any consolation from God as if He has abandoned the soul.  She grew very sick and eventually died in 1938 at the age of 33.

Because of the life she led, her personal piety and obedience to God’s will, and passionately serving as a conduit to God’s message of mercy, she was canonized as a saint by Blessed Pope John Paul II in April 2000.

How was Divine Mercy revealed?

She kept a diary, which is out in publication.  Apparently Jesus revealed to her that she should keep one.  I started reading it a while ago, but haven’t yet finished it.  In it, she shares her daily struggles with religious life and life in general, but most intriguingly she wrote down what Jesus said to her whenever He appeared. It’s almost conversational, as if St. Faustina was really talking to and listening to someone.  Or rather…Someone.

Through these private revelations, it is clear that Jesus was with her throughout her life, especially during her times of suffering.  Though He spoke to her a lot, I want to focus on His message of Divine Mercy.

Again, from the Intro, Sr. M. Elizabeth Siepak summarizes Jesus’ mission for St. Faustina:

“Today, I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My merciful Heart” (Diary, par. 1588)

“You are the secretary of My mercy; I have chosen you for that office in this and the next life” (Diary, par. 1605) … “to make known to souls the great mercy that I have for them, and to exhort them to trust in the bottomless depth of My mercy” (Diary, par. 1567) 

Her mission is to remind us about the truths of God’s merciful love for us as well as providing us with new ways to have a devotion to The Divine Mercy.  There are several ways to have a devotion to Divine Mercy as revealed to St. Faustina by Jesus. They are as follows:

  • The Divine Mercy Image (seen at the top of this post), which is a painting of a vision St. Faustina had of Jesus.  The elements of the image has special meanings.
  • The Feast of Divine Mercy, which is the day that Jesus specified to focus on the shelter of His Mercy. He specifically said that the second Sunday of the Easter season (ie. the Sunday after Easter) is to be the Feast of Divine Mercy.  Blessed Pope John Paul II declared in his homily at the canonization of St. Faustina that the second Sunday of Easter will be known as “Divine Mercy Sunday”
  • The Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which is a prayer of atonement and appeasement of God’s wrath dictated to St. Faustina by Jesus
  • The Novena to Divine Mercy, which is a 9-day recitation of the Chaplet in preparation for the Feast of Divine Mercy or for whatever petitions by the faithful
  • The Hour of Mercy, which Jesus specified as the third hour whereby the faithful should focus and immerse themselves in his Mercy
More info about each can be found in the intro of her diary by Sr. M Elizabeth Siepak or at DivineMercy.org.
Why Divine Mercy matters to me?

I was first introduced to Divine Mercy in high school, particularly through the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  For me, the Chaplet prayerfully reminds me of Jesus’ Passion and death.  I face my own forms of internal and external sufferings, and praying the Chaplet reminds me of His mercy, which strengthens me to endure those sufferings.  But, as selfish as that seems, the other benefit of having a devotion to Divine Mercy is for me to gain a better understanding of what is God’s mercy.  Once I begin to understand and know His Divine Mercy, I can be better able to show mercy to others. Is that important? Why yes, because showing mercy to others is an act of love.
Like, back in high school…we often offered the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for all involved in abortions.  For the parents, the doctors, the clinic workers, and for our country.  Through these petitions for Divine Mercy, we hope and pray that there is a change of heart and an act of mercy carried out in choosing life for the unborn child.  Our prayers for all involved in abortion is an act of mercy…out of love.
In college…umm…yeah, I didn’t really develop my appreciation and devotion to Divine Mercy.  God had me focused on other devotions, it seemed.  
However, now that I’m involved with my parish and through that involvement, I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for Divine Mercy.  And it is easier in this setting because we have made it a weekly habit to pray the Chaplet once a week. I realized when interacting with members of my parish that everyone, too, has their personal struggles and grasp for the hope in God’s infinite mercy.  Perhaps that is why praying the Chaplet has become a very attractive thing for us to do and without fail, there is a good handful of us who pray it once week.  
Lastly, I’m writing this blog post at the conclusion of a really crazy week in terms of human suffering here in the United States.  Monday was when the Boston Marathon bombings occurred, and in the middle of the week was the West, TX fertilizer plant explosion. Found out today that the manhunt for one of the suspects in the Boston bombing was captured last night.  All of this is happening, and I can’t help but think about Divine Mercy and its necessity in dealing with all of this.  Again, through a deeper understanding of Divine Mercy, I can begin to better show mercy to others…not on my own, but with God’s help.  I hope that the idea of mercy is not lost as we go through these days following the two major events this week.
My favorite way to be devoted to Divine Mercy is through praying the Chaplet.  I usually pray it on the way home from work on Fridays, and as a reminder I set myself a public post of one of the lines of the prayer on Facebook and Twitter.  It’s cool because sometimes people complete the line and keep going.  And then, as has been our tradition in my volunteer work at my parish, we pray the Chaplet after class on Sundays.

How do I pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy?

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is prayed with Rosary beads.  This helps keep track of how many times a prayer is said.  Of course, if a Rosary is not convenient, God did give us fingers 😉

First, an optional Opening Prayer:

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

(Repeat 3x) O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!

Then, an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and the Apostle’s Creed:

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified; died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

On every large bead before each decade…

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.

And for every small bead of each decade…

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

At the end of five decades, this is repeated three times…

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

After that, this is typically repeated three times…

Jesus, I trust in you. 

And lastly, an optional Closing Prayer:

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. Amen. 

Nowadays, I’ve been praying it using a particular sung version, and I’ve even learned it on my ukulele.   I was originally taught the chanted way of praying it, but eventually I learned this really cool sung version of it by my high school youth minister’s band.  You can listen and/or follow along here: Remnant Band – Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  And a recent trend for me is to go back to the chanted version I learned back in high school.  All cool ways to pray the Chaplet since it can be recited, chanted, or even sung.

Of course, there’s an app for it…the Divine Mercy app

Have mercy on us and on the world,
– JD

Kowalska, St. Maria Faustina. Diary. Stockbridge, MA: Marian Press, 1987. Print.

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