Mixing Divine Mercy spirituality with practical gu... Read more
Mercy, In the Face of Death
By Breanne Reilly (Sep 7, 2015)
When Kathy Wabick's phone rings in the middle of the night, it's often because she is being called to the bedside of someone who is dying. As a Disciple of the Divine Mercy in the Holy Face of Jesus, Kathy will rush to the hospital to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for dying elderly, premature babies, crime victims, and car crash victims if their loved ones ask her to pray.
"The first thing we ask is if their loved one has been anointed, and we let them know that this does not take the place of the Sacrament of the Anointing. Then we come, but we don't counsel, we minister," Kathy said.
Kathy, a native of Buffalo, New York, founded the Disciples of the Divine Mercy in the Holy Face of Jesus more than 15 years ago, following the death of her mother. The group's spirituality is to see the face of Christ in the sick, the dying, and the suffering souls, and for those souls to see the face of Christ reflected back.
"It is a mutual contemplation of the face of Christ," Kathy said.
The ministry, which has 40 members, is recognized as a private Lay Association of the Faithful, and is under the spiritual direction of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. They have been contacted by parishes all over the United States, in addition to parishes in Ireland, Belgium, and New Zealand. It is currently establishing a 501c3 status in the state of New York.
Kathy said the Disciples' prayers are an extension of St. Faustina's ministry since Jesus told St. Faustina, "Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties obtain for them trust in My mercy, because they have most need of trust, and have it the least. Be assured that the grace of eternal salvation for certain souls in their final moment depends on your prayer. You know the whole abyss of My mercy, so draw upon it for yourself and especially for poor sinners. Sooner would heaven and earth turn into nothingness then would My mercy not embrace a trusting soul" (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1777).
"Jesus also told St. Faustina that he stands between the dying soul and the Father not as a just judge but as a merciful savior," Kathy said.
In addition to helping the dying and the sick, the Disciples say praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet consoles loved ones. Rick Paolini, who joined the group shortly after his father's death, said he prayed the chaplet with 30 family members in his father's hospital room. When the nurse came to check his father's vitals and give him something for pain, she told Rick that his father didn't need anything, because their prayers were working. When his father died, Rick said he was smiling.
"My wife thought I was in shock," Rick said. "I couldn't help it. I was so at peace because of the chaplet."
Kathy and the Disciples have also witnessed a "handful of miracles," including conversions and restorations of faith. Kathy recalled being approached by a man who told her that members of the group had prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet for his dying friend 10 years before. The man told her their prayers had allowed him to go back to the Catholic Church.
"So we were going to pray for this dying person, but God's mercy also stretched out to his friend," she said. "He said, 'This isn't the Catholic faith that I knew. The Catholic faith that I knew wouldn't have done this.'"
The group attributes the miracles they've witnessed to God's graces and likens the effects of the chaplet to St. Faustina's witness of the Divine Mercy image in which, "The two rays which emanated from the Heart of Jesus covered our chapel and the infirmary, and then the whole city, and spread out over the whole world" (Diary, 87).
"It's unfathomable, when you pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, you can't even imagine the graces and where they extend and where God will send them," Kathy said.
"God knows where these graces need to go," Rick added. "We are just instruments."
Kathy, along with the founder of the Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy, Bryan Thatcher, MD, has co-authored At the Bedside of the Sick and the Dying, a guide for praying for (and with) the sick and dying.
She and the Disciples in the Holy Face of Jesus can be contacted at holyfaceministry.com.