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The 80th Anniversary of the Divine Mercy Chaplet

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The following was first published by the National Catholic Register and is posted here with permission.

By Joseph Pronechen

This September 13-14 on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross marks a major milestone. It is the 80th anniversary of a gift Jesus gave us — the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

By now, many people should have heard of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Hopefully, many pray it. But how many know what promises Jesus attached to praying it? Or realize the circumstances in which St. Faustina received it from Jesus himself?

Even those who heard of these things would do well with a timely reminder because both the reason and the promises seem even more urgent and vital today. Why would we want to ignore trusting the promises Jesus made for saying this prayer he himself gave us?

Here's just one promise to start. Urging St. Faustina to pray it often, Jesus told her: "My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given you. It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet. By saying the chaplet you are bringing humankind closer to me" (Diary, 1541).

Before looking at other promises, let's go into the initial event why Jesus gave the chaplet to Faustina.

At the Beginning

Dave and Joan Maroney on their Divine Mercy for America website bring us not only the circumstances that led to the chaplet but they also remind us of the promises themselves. The Maroneys are associates connected to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.

On Friday, Sept. 13, 1935, St. Faustina Kowalska received a vison of devastation about to hit a major Polish city. An angel who was to execute the Divine wrath up the earth, particularly this certain unnamed city was ready to strike it. Fervently Faustina prayed, but she revealed her plea was to no avail "in the face of the divine anger" (Diary, 474) until hearing many words we pray as the chaplet — but not quite the entire chaplet yet.

She encountered the majestic Holy Trinity and pleaded with God in words heard interiorly: "Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ for our sins and those of the whole world; for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us" (Diary 475).

As she prayed, the angel was unable to carry out the just punishment for sins.

Next day, Sept. 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Jesus gave Faustina the rest of the chaplet with precise, detailed instructions. She was to recite the pray on rosary beads.

Jesus told her: "You will recite it for nine days, on the beads of the rosary, in the following manner: First of all, you will say one OUR FATHER and HAIL MARY and the I BELIEVE IN GOD. Then on the OUR FATHER beads you will say the following words: '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.'

"On the HAIL MARY beads you will say the following words: "For the sake of His sorrowful Passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.' In conclusion, three times you will recite these words: 'Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world'
" (Diary 476).

The Reason

This prayer was to "help appease the wrath of God, to hold off the time of justice rightly due for the sins of the world," remind the Maroneys. Faustina told her spiritual director Blessed Father Michael Sopocko it was "especially for the killing of infants not yet born, the most grievous crime of all."

And that was in the 1930s as this crime spread through the influence of Russia. How much we need to pray the chaplet today in light of this horror.

Jesus said to Faustina: "This prayer will serve to appease My wrath" (Diary, 476).

Faustina learned, "This chaplet mitigates God's anger, as He Himself told me" (Diary, 1036).

Chaplet Is For Everybody

Jesus made it clear to Faustina the Chaplet of Divine Mercy was for everyone: "My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given you. It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet" (Diary, 1541).

He told her, "My daughter...by saying the chaplet you are bringing humankind closer to Me" (Diary, 929). We can do the same praying it.

More Promises Attached to the Chaplet

Several promises go with the chaplet. Our Lord said: "Oh, what great graces I will grant to souls who say this chaplet; the very depths of My tender mercy are stirred for the sake of those who say the chaplet" (Diary, 848).

Again, "I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy" (Diary, 687).

Here's another promise from Jesus: "The souls that say this chaplet will be embraced by My mercy during their lifetime and especially at the hour of their death" (Diary, 754).

How can we ignore this promise even if it were the only one?

If we look at the promises and see praying the chaplet brings us closer to Jesus and brings Jesus' mercy to embrace us, we can better understand another promise Jesus explained to Faustina: "At the hour of their death, I defend as My own glory every soul that will say this chaplet; or when others say it for a dying person, the indulgence is the same. When this chaplet is said by the bedside of a dying person, God's anger is placated, unfathomable mercy envelops the soul, and the very depths of My tender mercy are moved for the sake of the sorrowful Passion of My Son" (Diary, 811).

Notice that the promise is really a double one — for oneself and for others. Jesus again made that clear, telling Faustina: "Write that when they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the merciful Savior" (Diary, 1541).

Here's even more proof of the promise. Another time Jesus instructed 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" (Diary, 1777).

The saint described another visit from the Lord on this kind of promise with yet another aspect for those despairing. Certainly to stress the importance of this act of mercy — which fits in as one of the spiritual works of mercy — Our Merciful Savior told her: "My daughter, help Me to save souls. You will go to a dying sinner, and you will continue to recite the chaplet, and in this way you will obtain for him trust in My mercy, for he is already in despair" (Diary, 1797).

After following Jesus' instructions, Faustina had this to report, "I understood how very important the chaplet was for the dying. It appeases the anger of God" (Diary, 1565). Praying in these cases she saw evils powers in panic as they ran away from the dying person.

What about sinners in dire spiritual straits but not in apparent danger of dying? Jesus gave a big promise in these cases too. He stated to Faustina: "Priests will recommend it [praying the chaplet] 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" (Diary, 687).

Another time Jesus affirmed: "When hardened sinners say it, I will fill their souls with peace, and the hour of their death will be a happy one" (Diary, 1541).

Promise for Physical Danger

One time Faustina was awakened by a raging storm with crashing lightening and raining torrents. Praying she heard these words: "Say the chaplet I have taught you, and the storm will cease."

She prayed it at once. The storm swiftly stopped before she completed the chaplet, and she heard: "Through the chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will (Diary, 1731)." Later, another storm ceased the same way.

Pray and Pass Along

Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Pray it more frequently. What's wrong with taking 10 minutes during the 3 o'clock hour to pray the chaplet? If your work does not permit that, there surely is 10 minutes sometime during the day to pray it. Pray it with your family. Sing it with one of the melodies it has been set to. Tell others about the chaplet. Start a weekly chaplet in your parish.

These promises of our Divine Savior, our Merciful Lord, are too good to pass up.

First published on the National Catholic Register website.

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