Is the Chaplet Only for the Living and Dying?

Robert Stackpole Answers Your Divine Mercy Questions

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By Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD (Aug 12, 2010)
I had an interesting question come in recently from overseas, and since it more or less matched several other questions I have received, I thought I would share it in full with my readers. It comes from a man named Christopher in Malaysia:

I have a question to ask and hope that you'll be able to guide and enlighten me about it. It is about using the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy to pray for the departed souls.

Traditionally, in our country, Malaysia, when we pray for the departed souls during wakes, we use the Rosary. After I started to promote the message of Divine Mercy, our group of people uses the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy instead of the Rosary. Not that we don't like to pray the Rosary but because during every wake, if say 20 groups of people come to pray for the departed soul, all of them will usually use the Rosary.

Not that we want to show some difference, but we believed that the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy is a very powerful prayer even for the souls in Purgatory. Jesus also told us through the Diary that even if a soul just prays once, he will receive great grace of conversion through His mercy.

In our Church today, there are many Catholics who never go to church, some are feast-day Catholics, some are Christmas and Easter season Catholics and many more who do not practice their faith. But when some someone passed away, their family members and relatives will come to pray and to pay their last respect. My intention in using the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy instead of the Rosary is that at least they pray the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy once, and then the rest we leave them to the Lord's mercy and goodness.

From the time I started to promote the message of Mercy, from 1994 until now, there are quite a few times where whole families who already never go to Church for a long time were converted and reconciled with the Lord after we taught them to pray the chaplet during wakes.

The problem that I and our group face now is that some other promoters of Divine Mercy from other parishes went to the Philippines and came back telling us that we are not supposed to use the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy to pray for the departed souls. They say that the chaplet of is only for sinners and those who are alive only.

Please help, for the glory of God and the salvation of poor sinners.

Similarly, a woman named Carol sent in the following question:

I am a facilitator for a Divine Mercy cenacle. Near the end of the class, there is time for each member to state some petitions before we pray our Divine Mercy Chaplet.

One of our members said we shouldn't be praying petitions since the Divine Mercy Chaplet is only said for the dying.

Is she correct? Could someone advise me on this?

When I read these two letters side by side, it suddenly occurred to me that in one respect, Christopher's letter was a partial answer to Carol's question!

All we have to do is look at the fruits of the chaplet, from people who recite this prayer with a sincere heart around the world, and we can know for sure that the Chaplet is not only for the dying! The chaplet converts hardened hearts to Christ, reconciles families, heals bodies and souls, and rescues people from all kinds of catastrophic situations. Saint Faustina used it one time to pray for an end to a drought (see Diary of St. Faustina, entry 1128) and on another occasion she fended off a terrible storm by means of this powerful prayer:

When a great storm was approaching, I began to say the chaplet. Suddenly I heard the voice of an angel: "I cannot approach in this storm, because the light which comes from her mouth drives back both me and the storm." Such was the angel's complaint to God. I then recognized how much havoc he was to have made through this storm; but I also recognized that this prayer was pleasing to God, and that this chaplet was most powerful. (Diary, 1791)

Yes, it is true that Jesus promised that the chaplet is a special spiritual remedy for souls at the hour of their death:

[Jesus said to her] 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 the dying person, the indulgence [pardon] is the same. (Diary, 811).

Nevertheless, this does not mean that the chaplet can only be used for the dying, and Jesus never said that it can only be used for that purpose.

To understand why the chaplet is not just for the dying, we need to understand just why it is that the chaplet is so powerful.

The chaplet is not a magic formula. It does not obtain graces from God just because the words are recited, or recited at a certain time, or in a certain quantity (as if more chaplets, said at just the right time, such as the Hour of Great Mercy, will automatically get us more blessings!). Rather, the chaplet is an appeal for the outpouring of Divine Mercy on the basis of the Passion of Christ, the chief sign of His love for us (hence the refrain: "For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world," from Diary entry 475). This truly glorifies and honors God when it is sincerely offered in prayer.

Moreover, the chaplet must be said with trust in the merciful love of God, otherwise, however much God may want to come to our aid, the door of our hearts is still shut fast to him, and He will not kick that door down (see Rev 3:20). He respects our freedom to "shut Him out," so to speak. That is why Jesus told St. Faustina that above all it is trust in His mercy that opens the floodgates to all the graces He wants to pour out upon us in torrents:

Let souls who are striving for perfection particularly adore my mercy, because the abundance of graces which I grant them flows from My mercy. I desire that these souls distinguish themselves by boundless trust in My mercy. I Myself will attend to the sanctification of such souls. I will provide them with everything they will need to attain sanctity. The graces of My mercy are drawn by the means of one vessel only, and that is — trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. Souls that trust boundlessly are a great comfort to Me, because I pour all the treasures of My graces into them. I rejoice that they ask for much, because it is My desire to give much, very much. On the other hand, I am sad when souls ask for little, when they narrow their hearts. (Diary, 1578, my emphasis).

Thus, the power of the chaplet is really based on two things: (1) it is a prayer based on the Passion of Christ, which is the means by which He merited every saving and sanctifying grace for the world; and (2) if, and only if, this prayer is offered with sincere trust in Divine Mercy.

And this is also the reason why the chaplet is not only for the living or the dying. To answer Christopher's question: It is perfectly acceptable and theologically appropriate to offer it for the dead as well — that is, for the poor souls in purgatory. In fact, one of St. Faustina's spiritual directors, Fr. Joseph Andrasz, S.J., explicitly tells us that she used to pray the chaplet for the souls in purgatory (see Robert Stackpole, ed. Pillars of Fire in My Soul: The Spirituality of St. Faustina, Marian Press, 2003, p. 49).

In His revelations to her, Jesus put no limits at all on the kind or amount of graces that can be gained by means of the chaplet. As He said to St. Faustina:

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).

Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will. (Diary, 1731).

It all stands to reason, since our divine Savior merited an infinite ocean of graces when He died on the cross for us, and since sincere prayer offered up with sincere trust in God's mercy on the basis of our Savior's cross and resurrection is the best way to open the floodgates to all those graces that He longs to pour out upon us, then there is no authentic human need, in this life or the life to come, for which the chaplet cannot be offered.

In fact, Christopher, I would argue that the chaplet is usually even more appropriate to offer at a wake than the Rosary, if only because the chaplet is primarily a prayer of intercession, while the primary intention of the Rosary is meditation on the joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries of the life of Jesus. But, of course, the offering of prayer for the souls of the departed in either form, the Rosary or the chaplet, can be a true work of mercy. Either prayer, offered up with a sincere heart that trusts in the Lord, will not fail to be heard, and opens the floodgates of Divine Mercy.

Someone then will rightly ask: If the chaplet, recited with trust in God's merciful love, is such a powerful prayer, then why doesn't the chaplet always "work"?

That will be the topic of our next column.

Robert Stackpole, STD, is director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, an apostolate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. 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!

Rev J - Apr 27, 2018

Not comment but a question. I have been told,by several parishioners, that according to the Devine Mercy message,that departed souls with un-repented mortal sin,such as Hitler, will be asked three times if they accept Jesus or if reject Jesus. Those who accept Jesus get salvation while those who reject Jesus will get damnation to hell. I am an old fellow who came up under the Baltimore CCD program of the Catholic church. I was not taught this at all. I was taught by Catholic Church Cathechism that there is no repentance for mortal or grave sin after one dies. Does this Devine Mercy change this?

Jill - Aug 23, 2015

I only learnt of the Divine Mercy & the diaries of Sr. Faustina about 8 years ago just after the death of my dear Mother. Since learning the chaplet and thinking it was only said for the dying, this upset me immensely as I was not at my mothers bedside when she left this world and regretted I was never able to say the chaplet for her and be by her side. Your comments about being able to pray the Chaplet for the Hoky Souls in Purgatory & for the dead gives me great hope for my mother. Thank you for your comforting words. " It is perfectly acceptable and theologically appropriate to offer it for the dead as well — that is, for the poor souls in purgatory". Thank Dr. Robert -God bless you.

A servant of Jesus and Mary - Aug 18, 2010

Thank you for this explanation.

The most Holy Trinity really intended for this prayer to be said freely and for all. Onward, prayer warriors!

It is nice to have someone to provide such insight to our questions and needs. Thanks for all you do.

tom houston - Aug 17, 2010

When we try to answer questions from others and try to provide the reference, one must remember in dealing with the Divine Mercy, Jesus tell St Faustina, the answer to most of the questions asked.

We must have a child like belief of what Jesus tell us through St. Faustina.

Don't worry about past references. just trust His words, He will give you the answer.

Leave His words like He says and except them like a child would , with trust.

With His words you will field the questions you are asked.

Continued reading of the Diary, it will give you lasting knowledge of what He is saying to St. Faustina and us.

Leo the Lion - Aug 16, 2010

Why dwell on reported facts. Go and stop a storm, go and save poor souls.
Do it, dont wait, this is Low Hanging Friut, grab it. Read the bible for a half an hour = Plenary Indulgence. Pray the Divine Chaplet for the Craiglist Killer, who committed suicide. Pray it for ZsaZsa Gabor who is on her death bed. Do it.

Jim - Aug 15, 2010

Tess, the storm ending was no coincidence. St. Faustina records in her diary that Jesus tells her that the chaplet can be said to end storms. He was not only talking about the storms in our daily lives, but physical storms of nature as well as he directly told her to say the chaplet during a violent thunderstorm to end it. He answered your prayers as you asked. There is absolutely nothing he will not do for us when we ask him through the chaplet, so long as it is compatable with his will. In a conversation I had with Fr. Michalanko (spelled wrong) several years ago, I presented the question to him asking how I would know what was compatable with God's will. His response to me was one I wrote down. He said,"Jim, everything compatable with God's will so long as it is not sinful." Think about it - we open our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls to Jesus, entrusting all to his Divine Mercy - we do so blindly, placing our faith in what we cannot see, but accept because of what we've been taught since we were children. If we are placing our trust in him, he will never betray that trust...never. Satan will want us to think Jesus will betray our trust by flooding our minds and hearts with fears and worries that can paralyze us, but Jesus will never allow his will to take us were his Mercy will not protect us. His providence is set and his Divine Mercy there for the purpose of enabling us to trust in Him for every single thing, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem. Trust in his Divine Mercy and the Immaculate Heart of our Lady for everything. (

Tess - Aug 14, 2010

The Divine Mercy prayer and the rosary has been part my family's life these past several months. We pray the chaplet and the rosary daily. When we have a dying patient at work, I say the short version of the Divine Mercy if I don't have enough time at the bedside, in the chapel by Blessed Sacrament or in my office. It is so sad to see a lot of the elderly people facing their last hours with no friends or family to stay at their bedside or pray for them.
Just a few days ago we had a minor thunder storm that just started. My daughter freaks when there is one 'cause she thought it will create a tornado. We stayed in the basement and prayed the chaplet. By the time we finished we were done praying it, there was still little rain but the lightning and the thunder vanished. It might be just coincidence or it could really be God's intervention. But, what matter is, my daughter believed it was God's work.

maryS - Aug 14, 2010

We, here Davao City our Dear Divine Mercy devotees when we are called to pray during the wake we use the chaplet of the divine mercy followed by the sorrowful mystery.because our prayers seem not to be completed if rosary is not prayed.

Jim - Aug 12, 2010

I utilize the Divine Mercy Chaplet for all my intentions as well as for the souls in Purgatory. I witnessed its power for the dying when I said it at the bedside of both of my parents as well as other relatives. On many occasions, the results were obvious within minutes. It is all Jesus promised it would be to assist the dying. For trials, it's as if I am whispering to the very Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Divine Mercy Chaplet is just one what I call "Weapons in the Arsonal of Faith," to assist us in our daily challenges, trials, battle against sin and the devil while fostering a peace to know that saying it places us within the very center of the gaze of Jesus and the Father. Just think of the very words; "Eternal Father, I offer you the body and blood, soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ in atonement of our sin and those of the whole world." In this short prayer, we're saying to the Father, "Please, recall the suffering of your son and why he gave himself and use that to assist us in our needs and desires to draw closer to you in the needs of our lives - for the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world." Consider this passion, this suffering, Father, and allow us to utilize that love to help us draw closer to you. The Chaplet doesn't replace the Rosary, of course, but it is a compliment to it with both leading us closer to the Trinity with the help of our Lady.