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By Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD (Jun 26, 2008)
One sometimes finds well-meaning and devout Catholics who seem to have an aversion to the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. For example, a woman named "Millie" wrote to me recently about her pastor, "a very holy and prayerful man," who told her that he doesn't like the wording of the Chaplet when it repeats "for the sake of His sorrowful passion." He thinks it should say "for the sake of His sorrowful passion, death, and resurrection." He told her that to use devotions that focus only on Christ's passion "is like being in the dark ages."

Well, Millie, on the one hand, your pastor is certainly within his rights to prefer devotions that focus on other aspects of the sacred humanity, or saving work of Jesus Christ. Some people find more help in being devoted to the Holy Childhood of Jesus, or to His Transfiguration or His Resurrection. Moreover, different eras in the life of the Church tend to focus more on some mysteries of the life of our Lord than others. Your pastor is right that, in the medieval period, Catholic devotion did tend to emphasize the saving passion of Jesus, perhaps because it was an age of great human misery and suffering and Christians needed to be reassured at that time that Jesus understood the sorrows of life that they were going through.

On the other hand, it would be unfair to say that any devotion that emphasizes the saving passion of our Lord is therefore "dated," or just a "throwback" to "the dark ages." After all, there have been many Catholic saints in more recent centuries who have focused their spiritual life on the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Saint Alphonsus Ligouri (1696-1787) is a good example. He was the founder of the "Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer," and read what he wrote about devotion to the cross of Jesus in his classic work The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ (chapter 1, sections 12 and 20):

Who can deny that of all devotions, devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ is the most useful, the most tender, the dearest to God, the one that most consoles sinners and most inflames loving souls? Where else do we get so many blessings as from the Passion of Jesus Christ? Where else do we have the hope of pardon, strength against temptations, and confidence that we are going to paradise? Whence come so many bright lights of truth, so many loving calls, so many promptings to change our life, so many desires to give ourselves to God, as from the Passion of Jesus Christ? ...

If people would only stop to consider, looking at Jesus on the cross, the love that He has borne each one of them! "With what love," says St. Francis De Sales, "would we not be set ablaze at the sight of those flames of the Redeemer's breast! And oh, what happiness, to be able to be burned by that same fire with which God burns for us! What joy to be bound to God by chains of love!" Saint Bonaventure called the wounds of Jesus wounds that cut through the most senseless hearts, and which inflame the most frigid souls. How many arrows of love come forth from those wounds, to strike the hardest hearts! What flames issue from the burning heart of Jesus Christ, setting on fire the coldest souls! And how many chains come from that wounded side to bind the most rebellious hearts!

If one is of a mind to dismiss the writings of saints like Alphonsus on the ground that their spirituality also is "dated," and too "baroque" in sentiment for modern tastes, then let's go right back to the source and standard of all Catholic spirituality: the teachings of the apostles. Saint Paul arguably has much the same emphasis on the Cross as St. Alphonsus (if less of the florid, baroque use of language!). In I Corinthians 2:1-2, and 1: 22-23, St. Paul writes:

When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom, for I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. ... For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.

In Romans 5: 6-8, St. Paul marvels above all at the manifestation of God's love for us displayed on the Cross:

While we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man — though perhaps for a good man one will even dare to die. But God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

In short, an emphasis on the passion of Christ is hardly a characteristic merely of medieval spirituality. It is an enduring part of the Biblical and Catholic spiritual and theological heritage. Of course, if one fears that the frequent repetition of the Chaplet might make us forget the equal importance of the resurrection of Jesus to our salvation, then why not be sure to recite the Chaplet before the image of The Divine Mercy? The image is, first and foremost, an image of the Risen Lord, so by reciting the Chaplet before the image, we are contemplating the fullness of the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ.

Robert Stackpole, STD, is director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy. His latest book is Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI (Marian Press). Got a question? E-mail him at

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

jay - Feb 7, 2009

pls check out the following site for more prayer for these end times.

Charles A Rose - Aug 14, 2008

I find this Chaplet a beautiful devotion and I am very grateful that someone told me about it. I am a Eucharistic Apostle and I say the Chaplet at least 3 times per day, and this includes the Scrupture reading, the Passion, the Stations of the Cross,
and especially for the sick and those who are about to die. I make sure that I do say the one Chaplet at 3:00 because as St Faustina said, God has many mercies to give. I say it for my reparation and atomement of my sins prior to confession. With regards to the Novena, I say an intention each day during the Chaplet. I truly believe and trust in God's mercy and kindness. In fact, this is my only devotion I have because it is so beautiful and what God promises us that recite the Chaplet. I make sure it is said at least 3 times and at the 3:00 hour saying the Chaplet, the stations, the passiion, the sick and dying, sinners in the entire world, all souls in purgatory, for the souls of priests and religious who need it the most. Thank you and may the Divine Mercy grant you His graces as He did for me.

Christine - Jul 24, 2008

Has there been any discussion regarding how similar the Divine Mercy prayer is to Saint Gertrude's prayer? She lived from 1256 to 1302. Was Saint Faustina familiar with this prayer and Saint Gertrude The Great? If you aren't familiar with it here is St. Gertrude's prayer that is said to release 1000 souls from purgatory:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus Christ, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, for those in my own home and within my family. Amen."

MARIA-PAZ M. HERRERO - Jul 6, 2008

I just love the CHAPLET OF THE DIVINE MERCY. Personally, it has helped me a lot in my personal needs. I do not think it belongs to the Dark Ages.
One has to listen well to the words when it is being recited.

tom bailey - Jul 6, 2008

Concerning the Chaplet in the :"Dark Ages"?

All souls must begin to realize the world is in troubled times and we should be thankful of Jesus additional prayers and devotion to the Divine Mercy given to St Faustina.

Jesus, came to St Faustina, Himself, and showed her these prayers and devotions, deeds, that are most pleasing to Him. and using these request will help our troubled times.

Also there are a lot of promises ( 754) from the Lord as we follow His request.

We souls want to make our relationship to complicated with Jesus.

Just remember, be child like, trust in Him, love others as He love us.

Be thankful (1489), "Your words please Me. and your thanksgiving opens up new theasure of graces...."

Let's us pray for more people to say the Chaplet, asking for His Love and Mercy on us and the whole world.

Jesus want us to save souls and the Chaplet will do that.

Forget what some one says about the past , trouble times are now, souls need to be saved and God has asked us to help with that problem now!

It is the Lord who told St Faustina how to pray the Chaplet, (476).

That is good enough for me. Jesus we trust in you!

Denise - Jul 5, 2008

My mother is Polish and since she discovered St. Faustina a few years ago, she has prayed the chaplet faithfully. She feels that Faustina has "never let me down" as her intentions have been "answered". I took her to the shrine last October and I have been praying the chaplet myself since. I feel guilty to say that sometimes I get annoyed, for lack of a better word, that the prayer pleads for mercy over and over again. I feel sorry for the human race as no one asks to be born yet life and all its struggles are thrust upon us. Since we are human we inevitably sin. Sometimes, I just grow weary of hearing of how sinful and unworthy we are all the time. That said my faith is strong and I will continue to pray and nurture a relationship with our dear Lord for the rest of my life.

rose - Jul 4, 2008

To Rita - When praying the Chaplet (yes, it is powerful and deep), I pray it with s child-like faith, and like a child I simply follow and obey what was instructed of me. In this case, the instructions on how and what to say in the chaplet was given by Jesus. Again with child-like faith, I just obey and pray it without hesitation and so much deep analysis of the words. I admire intelligent people who reflects deeply on the words but sometimes it helps to be just simple - I TRUST that the Lord promised graces for sinners who recite it, thus as a sinner myself, I rejoice that I am given a chance to atone for my sins and pray for other sinners too. I don't focus too much on my unworthiness but am grateful that God can ask me to help save souls by my prayers. It is then that I truly feel His Mercy. God is ever so loving, gentle and merciful. Praise God for His Divine Mercy. I hope that this helps you in your struggle in praying the Chaplet.

Robert R. Allard, ADM Director - Jul 4, 2008

I too tremble at the thought of offering the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus to our Eternal Father, but that is because it is so profound and powerful. I have read that Jesus Himself trembled while making the offering at the last supper. Shouldn't we do the same?

Sem. Julius - Jul 4, 2008

As I pray the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy I as a seminarian helps me to reflect more deeply on the redemptive suffering of Christ my Merciful Lord...the passion of Christ is the concretization of God's humility, love and Mercy" The Chaplet of Mercy creates and continually blesses me with countless favors and blessings...I always say in my prayer... that I too may become a vessel of God's Mercy to His poeple.
Let us offer more Chaplet of Mercy for the souls in purgatory, reparation of sins, conversation, unity of Christians, guidance for the Pope and uniting it to the Intentions of the Divine Mercy of Jesus.

This is the LAST DEVOTION before the God's Justice will come.

May the Mercy of Jesus bless us always. Amen.

Rita - Jul 2, 2008

My Pastor also had an aversion to the Chapelet of the Divine Mercy . I once left him a book called "Tell My Priest." I can't say he ever read it. But once from the altar he said "If you follow the Divine Mercy Sunday it is at St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's they will hold athe service at their Churches. We never did! At First I had a problem saying "Eternal Father I offer You the
Body and Blood Soul and divinity of your Beloved Son Jesus Christ in atonment for our sins and that of the whole world." Who was I to offer to the Father, His Devine Son Jesus in atonment for anyones sins. I say it but struggle still with saying it. How can I a sinner offer Jesus to His Father. It is very hard.

Maria - Jul 1, 2008

I truly understand what the pastor is saying but makes me wonder about Holy Scriptures--that is also the Word of God. We cannot change anything but be humble and accept what our rich Church approves. God bless the pastor, Millie, Dr. Stackpole, the Marians and the whole world. Thank you St. Faustina for bringing the Divine Mercy message to all of us.

rose - Jun 25, 2008

I do believe that the Chaplet of Divine Mercy were dictated by Jesus to St. Faustina word by word. Therefore, it is perfect for me since the words actually came from Jesus. It should not be changed at all, as Jesus Himself is perfect. Do you believe that Jesus dictated the words to the Chaplet? If so, Jesus gave those words as they were for a reason. Don't you think so?

steph - Jun 25, 2008

the chaplet always reminds me of what he he did for us and why he did it. I always think about how much he loves us. When it says "for the sake of his sorrowful passion have mercy on us and one the whole world." The resurrection is part of his Divine Mercy. THANK YOU JESUS!