Divine Mercy Minutes with Jesus

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The Casimiro Family, circa 1970s. Top, from left: Angelo Casimiro, Susie Casimiro, and Ariel Casimiro; bottom from left: Ariel Casimiro Jr. and Cecilia Casimiro.

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The Casimiro and Groves Families in 2008. Top, from left: Ariel and Ledda Casimiro Jr. (my brother and sister-in-law), me, Cecilia and David Groves (my sister and brother-in-law); Bottom, from left: Patrick Groves (Cecilia and David's youngest son), Ariel and Susie Casimiro (my parents), and Shawn Groves (Cecilia and David's oldest son).

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Me with Br. Rich, Fr. Seraphim, Br. Mike, and Br. James at my mom's funeral.

By Father Angelo Casimiro, MIC (Jan 12, 2010)
In Loving Memory of Susie C. Casimiro
July 8, 1940 — Dec. 1, 2009

The Beginning of the End
"We just need to keep praying, pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, pray at 3 p.m.," my mom, Susie, would say as we ended our phone conversations during the remaining months of her life. After surviving breast cancer in 2004, she found out in late 2008 that the cancer had returned. Mom took chemotherapy treatments again, and she was optimistic the cancer could be overcome. However, other health issues sometimes interrupted the chemo. Thus, we resorted to prayer and asked God for a physical healing. We especially prayed the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, a prayer devotion that was dear to both of us.

At the beginning of November 2009, my dad, Ariel, called me in Washington, D.C., to let me know that Mom's chemo was unsuccessful and that the cancer had spread to her bones. The doctor said she only had two months to live. This came as a total shock. Dad asked me to come home to California as soon as possible. I got permission from my superior to fly out to California and spend the week of Thanksgiving with my family. Like Mom, I tried to remain optimistic and continued praying that God would grant a physical healing. I asked my Marian community and all my friends to pray for Mom's healing from cancer.

I arrived in California on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Mom's health had already started to deteriorate. She was agitated, and her mind was starting to fade. From what my family told me, I believe she may even have had an experience of the Holy Souls that day. When she was more coherent, Mom asked about my flight and when I had arrived. So I told her. However, she kept asking me, "How did you know that your flight was going to arrive so early?" She wasn't making sense. Then she said, "I love you." I said, "I love you too, Mom," and I kissed her.

Afterward, Mom started to become agitated again, and she prayed several "Our Fathers" and "Hail Marys." My family gathered around her, and we started to pray the Rosary with her. She followed along, but she prayed with such urgency and intensity, especially as she said the words, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death." For the next several nights, we would continue praying the Rosary with her, and later on the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy.

The Final Chapter
After Dad found out that Mom only had two months to live, he chose to take care of her at home, with the help of others, rather than place her in a hospice facility. He fed her and gave her medication. A nurse would come during the day to check Mom's vital signs. During the next few days, her health continued to worsen, and she was always agitated. It was heartbreaking to see her in this condition.

Several relatives and family friends started coming to visit her. My best friend Paul came daily to give Mom Holy Communion, and a Norbertine priest, Fr. Augustine Puchner, O.Praem., gave her the Anointing of the Sick.

Thanksgiving came, and we had a family gathering. However, Mom was asleep through most of it, and I greatly missed not having her physical presence there. It just wasn't the same. I tried to spend as much time as I could with Mom and mostly prayed for and with her. I would take her hand in mine, whether she was awake or asleep, and prayed the Rosary and the chaplet. It had gotten to a point where I didn't think a physical healing would come, and so I started praying for a spiritual healing. If God was going to take Mom, I wanted her to go in peace.

A couple of times during the weekend, my family and I thought Mom was going to die. It was hard for each of us, and we were trying to hold on to her as long as we could. On Sunday morning, she had one last burst of energy. She opened her eyes for the first time in days and looked peaceful. When we would look at her, however, she no longer looked back at us. She would just look straight ahead and say words no one could understand. A child-like innocence radiated from her face. It didn't last long; she became agitated again and had to be given more pain medication.

Mom's illness was starting to take its emotional and physical toll on all of us, especially Dad, who would stay up during the night to watch over her. We agreed to bring her to a hospice facility so she could get proper physical treatment. On Monday, Nov. 30, an ambulance came in the evening to bring Mom to a hospice facility nearby. I felt such sadness as she left our family home for the last time.

God is Merciful
Dad, my siblings, their spouses, and I spent that final evening with her in the hospice facility. Dad and I decided to stay overnight in her room. The nurses said she would probably only last until the following morning, so Dad and I took turns napping. As I kept vigil with Mom, I prayed all four mysteries of the Rosary and then a continuous chaplet. On a shelf near her bed, I placed a Divine Mercy prayercard. Then Dad and I just talked throughout the evening, bonding in a profound way as father and son. We were ready to surrender Mom to God.

By early Tuesday morning, Dec. 1, Mom's breathing had become heavy and laborious. She was using her whole body just in order to breathe. The end was near, so Dad called my brother, Ariel Jr., and sister, Cecilia, to come over as soon as possible. At around 8:15 a.m., Dad and I were by Mom's bed. Dad was stroking her head, and I was holding her hand. Then I noticed that her body was no longer moving. I asked Dad if she was still breathing. As he checked, Mom let out this big breath, stopped breathing for a couple of minutes, and then let out another big breath.

Dad got the nurse to check her vital signs. Mom no longer had a pulse, and when the nurse checked her heartbeat, she told us her heart was starting to slow down. At that point, I just broke down and cried. The nurse said she would come back periodically to check Mom's heartbeat. I knew that death was inevitable, but it didn't stop my heart from bleeding. After I regained my composure, I went to Mom and said in her ear, "Mom, don't worry, we'll all be all right. I'll be all right. When Jesus comes for you, just go to Him."

Those were some of the most difficult words I have ever had to say.

After awhile, my sister and brother arrived with their spouses, as well as my eldest nephew, Shawn. My friend Paul also came to give her Holy Communion, but it was already too late. I asked him to call Fr. Augustine to come as soon as possible. At 9:50 a.m., the nurse checked Mom's heartbeat again, and this time her heart had finally stopped beating. We were all in tears. However, God had answered my prayers by allowing Mom to die in peace. There was no struggle. Dad said that it looked as if she was just sleeping. After a few minutes, Fr. Augustine arrived. We all gathered around Mom's bed, and Fr. Augustine prayed over her body. Before leaving the room, I asked mom to pray for me, that she would help me become a good priest. I was counting on her prayers now. It was both our hope that she would be present for my priestly ordination, but I know that she still will be.

Lessons Learned
The 10 days between the time when Mom's health started to deteriorate until her death on Dec. 1 were the most intense of my life. Through my mom's illness and death, Jesus allowed me to share in His Passion. I literally felt like I was at the foot of the cross with Our Lady. Like her, I felt helpless as I watched someone I loved go through so much suffering. All I could do was pray. I saw the suffering Christ in the face of my Mom, and I all wanted to do was to console her. Mary, the Mother of Mercy, was with my family and me, and she helped us as only a mother could. Hence the words "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death" never rang so true.

I never realized the significance of praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the sick and dying until I prayed it with and for my Mom. This prayer has taken on a new dimension in my life, and I will never pray it the same way again. In St. Faustina's Diary, our Lord specifically asked her:

Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties [that is, insistent prayers], 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 than would My mercy not embrace a trusting soul. (Diary of St. Faustina, 1777)

After Mom passed into eternal life, my family immediately began the Filipino tradition of praying for the repose of soul of the deceased for 40 days. On that evening, we invited relatives and friends to come over to pray for the soul of my mom. I was asked to lead the prayers invoking God's mercy upon her soul. Our prayers ended with a recitation of the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. As I lead the prayers, I felt the immense importance of praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, such as I had never felt before. I finally understood the zeal of the Founder of the Marian Congregation, Bl. Stanislaus Papczynski, for praying for the repose of the Holy Souls. As such, I came to realize how all of these things summed up what it meant to be a Marian of the Immaculate Conception: Mary, Mercy, and the Holy Souls.

Graces Received
Brother James Cervantes, MIC, my best friend in the Marians, served as a rock of support all throughout my mom's illness and death. We kept in contact through email and over the phone. He had gone through a similar experience when his younger brother died at the age of 20 from cancer. Brother James wrote me, saying how God was giving my family "intense graces," and he quoted Blessed Teresa of Calcutta when she said that suffering was "God's tender embrace."

At first, I didn't see the graces. Soon after, though, I began seeing them come, one by one. Both my dad and my sister Cecilia have drawn closer to God and have started going to church more regularly. I have been strengthened in my Marian vocation and in responding to God's call for me to the priesthood. The words "Jesus, I trust in You!" have taken on a new meaning in my life. During the services for my mom, God put me in a priestly position by letting me help my family plan, coordinate, and host the events. I was placed in a leadership position, which I never had before. I spoke about my mom at the prayer service during her wake and then before the funeral Mass at our home parish, St. Justin Martyr, in Anaheim. I couldn't have done any of it without God's grace.

My family was blessed in having four of my Marian brothers fly out to California for my mom's services: Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC; Br. James Cervantes, MIC; Br. Richard Mary Dolan, MIC; and Br. Michael Gaitley, MIC. I asked Fr. Seraphim to lead the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy for the repose of the soul of my mom. As he did, I was completely awed by what was happening. Divine Mercy was such a big part of my conversion, and then I became exposed to listening to Fr. Seraphim on Catholic Radio and watching him on EWTN. Now here he was leading the chaplet at my mom's wake. I thought to myself, "God is so good." The presence of my Marian brothers meant the world to my family and me.

Before mom died, Br. James suggested that I read Scripture to her, especially since she was going to soon be meeting the Word. Consequently, on the day before she died, I opened up my Bible to the Gospel of John and read the first three chapters to her. I didn't realize until later the significance of what I was doing. As I read those chapters again after Mom's death, I understood that I was preparing her for eternal life. Since then, John 3:16 has been a recurring theme with me: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

From Here to Eternity
I believe God was merciful to my mom and my family. I like to believe that she died a holy death. She was receiving Holy Communion every day, was given the Anointing of the Sick, and she had so many people praying for her. Even though Mom did not receive a physical healing, God more importantly granted her a spiritual healing. I was at peace with her death, but that doesn't mean that I don't miss her. I miss her immensely, and I know that I have to go through a period of grieving. My heart needs time to heal.

I would like to end with this. In Mercy Minutes with Jesus(Marian Press), the entry for Dec. 1 (the day Mom passed into eternal life) is titled "To the Full." Interestingly enough, both passages included that day from St. Faustina's Diary talk about eternal life. In the second passage, St. Faustina hears these words in her soul: "I am and will be for you such as you praise Me for being. You shall experience My goodness, already in this life and then, to the full, in the life to come" (1707).

Jesus had finally come for my mom, and she went with Him.

Brother Angelo Casimiro, MIC, is a seminarian living in Washington, D.C.

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- May 9, 2022

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Fr. Angelo Casimiro - Apr 9, 2017

Joshua Betancourt, I don't know if you will ever see this comment but for some reason I just came across the message you wrote from June 3, 2016. Thank you for sharing the story of the experience of your mom's death. Some of it is similar to my mom's death in December 2009. I will pray for the repose of the soul of your mom. God bless you. -Fr. Angelo Casimiro, MIC

Joshua Betancourt - Jun 3, 2016

Dear Brother, I stumbled across your beautiful story while porousing through Google searches on the relation between the Divine Mercy Chaplet and those at the end of life. Your story mirrors my own in many of the details. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014; she decided to have a double mastectomy and was cancer free for some time (she elected not to undergo chemo treatment, nowing that it could have deleterious effects on her beyond the disease itself). Needless to say, and seemingly out of nowhere, the cancer charged back with reckless abandon after several months, metastasizing to her stomach, brain, bones, and lungs. In late November of 2015, my mother needed to be hospitalized as she became highly symptomatic and weakened beyond measure. Her hospitalist (as well as her oncologist) gave her a couple months to live at the most, saying her prognosis was very poor; they suggested that hospice care would be appropriate at this point. I asked everyone I knew (with the help of social media) to pray for my mother's health. Rosaries, novenas, Mass intentions were all being offered for her. To everyone's suprise, including the health care team, my mom inexplicably stabilized and gained strength. She wasn't supposed to have made it through Christmas. But, we know all too well, that God has the final word. We enjoyed many holidays and other special occasions with her, including New Year's, my little brothers wedding in April, and finally Mother's Day! None of us thought this would be possible in November! But, we knew the inevitable. My mother was not going to "get better." She began to slow down again and needed several hospitalizations to control the pain and discomfort; she finally needed to be placed on hospice for exclusive comfort measures. I felt helpless and guilty. Helpless because there was nothing I can do to help alleviate her suffering beyond what her nurses provided. Guilty because I felt that I had taken her "improvement" and apparent stability for granted. That is, I felt that I should have fasted and prayed more and offered more things up for her. I asked God for forgiveness for my spiritual lethargy and presumptions. The other thing I asked of him was that I my mom would experience a happy, holy death, and that I would be able to help usher her into eternity. My devotion to St. Joseph followed, knowing his patronage to a happy, holy death. We finally arrived to my mother's final moments. Having worked as a hospital chaplain for some time and being with families at the end of life, I recognized that her heavy, labored breathing was indicative that the end was near. I immediately grabbed my rosary and prayed the angelus (since it was noonetime), and then prayed the Divine Mercy, since it was the second prayer that came to mind. I held my mother in my arms, and clasped the rosary with my hands. Then, almost supernaturally, my mother took her last breath at the conclusion of the last "Holy God, Holy mighty one, Holy immortal one..." I knew right then and there that the Lord had answered my prayer, namely, that the my mother would die peacefully and in a most holy manner. That is the solice I get from this most painful loss of mine. I hope to persevere in the faith in order to obtain glory and the beatific vision of God. Thanks for sharing your story of your mother. It touched me profoundly.

Guy Bowering Jr - Dec 9, 2010

Brother Casimiro,

I unexpectedly lost my Mom about two months ago from a complication after what was to have been routine, outpatient surgery. So when I was reading some of the Marian articles and saw the title of yours, I just had to read it - and then leave a comment. First of all, please know that you will be in my prayers - you and your family. I ask for your prayers also. Thank you for your openness and the depth of your sharing. I was deeply moved by your words and so very thankful for your insight. May God continue to bless you in your studies and preparation for the Holy Priesthood. Thank you again, and praise God for the immensity of His Love and Mercy.

zosima caniga gabule - Dec 1, 2010

I couldn't hold back the tears from my eyes as I read your very touching testimony. Your Mom was so blessed to have you at her side in her last agonizing moments and would be more blessed to see you during your ordination as a Priest. God bless!

Lester Lim - Nov 22, 2010

Thank you Bro. Angelo for sharing your story with us. It brought tears to my eyes as it also brought back the memories I had with my own mother before she died nearly 5 years ago. I did practically the same things you showed to your ailing mother and she also passed away peacefully in God's embrace. Even in death, God shows us His Mercy through Jesus.

maureen - Feb 15, 2010

God bless you for your witness.I am presently going thru this with my Mom and have found at time the divine mercy is the prayer that gives such peace to me and my family.My husband was the one who introduced this gracefilled chaplet to me.Some of your witness has given me ideas as my Mom has been agitated at times and since my husband suggested to pray the Divine Mercy for peace in her heart and soul,their are times when she appears childlike and at peace.please pray for her-her name is Doris as well as my Dad tom .Thank you for that as well as sharing your journey.God bless you and your family- i will pray for you and your Mom too.

Jim Lytle - Jan 20, 2010

Hi Brother Angelo, it is such a blessing and a grace to witness a holy death in one of our loved ones as I believe that it is the summit of the Gospel. When my Dad was dying with the cancer having spread to many areas of his body there was no way to move him in his bed without causing a lot pain. It seemed that every bone in his body was in pain. It was then when I saw him in that state I realized he was just like Jesus on the cross and that God in His love for my dad was granting him the favor of a holy death. Before that time it had never occurred to me what a holy death was; but in that instant the Holy Spirit taught it to me. What a gift, I thought; it was really a sign of how much God loved my dad and was waiting for him to come home.
In 1993 when my mom died (in her sleep, unexpectedly) I also learned something that you may now already realize. Mom was the center of our family, the one who always called each of the six kids to see how we were doing; and she was the one who made sure that we were all gathered together during holidays. When she died I had the distinct realization that all that happened was that God had moved the center of our family from earth to heaven causing us to now look up to heaven. I said to myself (that you may also realize) that "heaven is no longer a faraway place for that is where our mother lives". May God richly bless you and your family and all of your brother Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

Kathleen Roesch - Jan 15, 2010

Dear Bro. Angelo,
Thank you for your beautiful testimony.
I lost my dear mother years ago when Fr. Joe was one and a half years old. I looked for a mother substitute, for I missed the deep mother love, that only a mother can give. After five years I
found the answer in Our Blessed Mother
when I discovered that she truly is my
mother, and could give me the love I was seeking. You, as a Marian, will find consolation in your Mother Mary, and she, and your own dear mother, will pray for you to be a holy priest.

Malou Pimentel - Jan 15, 2010

Your loving account of your mom's passing, Bro. Casimiro is like going through what I had with my mother in 2005. I can aligned with your family's journey. My mother died also keeping her love for Divine Mercy till her last earthly minutes. Thats the consolation that though physicaly gone, the legacy of the Divine Mercy she left to me will forever be etched in my soul. Our mothers who offered their lives that we may live His Mercy- isn't it awesome ? I miss my mother now. Yes, even at her hospital bed she thought of others " Did they have their snacks already ? " To which I replied : " Dont worry Mama, its our time to care for you. " I went to the Philippines for 3 months to care for her till her burial day. Ten months later, my father suffered a brain stroke. I have no time even to grieve fully for my mother.I buried Papa on a Transfiguration Day of Jesus. All these moments were all Divine Mercy-filled experiences. Indeed, the very essence of the Divine Mercy devotion came to a full meaning through these expereinces. In His Mercy, lets offer our human tears. They are now resting wonderfully in God's loving care enveloped in the eternal rays !

winmart adelantar - Jan 15, 2010

Brothe, maraming salamat sa napakagandang article... Very touching and i cant stop my tears from flowing out of my eyes as i read your article...

margaret - Jan 14, 2010

What a wonderful testimony to the power of the Divine Mercy. I have a special poem that I keep that begins "The most important person on earth is a mother..........Mothers are closer to God than any other creature" Because a mother has built a dwelling place for an immortal soul. How special she must be in heaven having you as a son spreading the message of Jesus' Mercy. She will be with you always. I didn't know about Divine Mercy when my mother passed away so I say it always for the souls in purgatory. Through the graces you received Jesus will guide you spreading His Divine Mercy. What a wonderful blessing. Thank you for sharing

ileana - Jan 13, 2010

Dear Br. Angelo,

My deepest condolences for the loss of your mother. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. I can definitely identify with a lot of what you are saying because of the illnesses and deaths of my own loved ones. I know that God will use your words to help bring comfort to many other souls who are struggling through similar situations. You will be in my prayers.

Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC - Jan 13, 2010

Beautiful! Thank you Brother Angelo. God blessed your mother at the end since she had tried to live a good life. Thank you for your witness and your testimony. I will keep the whole family in my prayers.

maryS - Jan 13, 2010

When I was this reading I cannot help but to cry because I also feel what you felt losing a mother,My mother died at the age of 90 years old,I am happy that I was the one who took care until her last breath,She had a peaceful death,Sad but I know she is always with me protecting me where ever I go,I will include my prayers for you mother,God bless Brother Angelo.

deb pawtucket, r.i. - Jan 13, 2010

Dear Brother Angelo,
Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your family. All that your mother did, during her life, her death, and her continued prayer, shapes you and your vocation.
As a member of the Apostolate of Healthcare professionals for Divine Mercy, I thank you for your witness. To hear from you, as a son, as a family member, how much it means to recite the Chaplet, to know the Merciful Lord is present at the bedside. When I recite with patients, or give the image, and Rosary beads, I know the Merciful Lord is with that person at the bedside, and to hear your witness is beautiul, and consoling to those who with great joy bring Our Lord to the bedside.
I hope I someday have the opportunity to meet you and thank you.
May The Most Blessed Virgin Mary protect and console you today and always, as you move forward in your formation.
God Bless you..
Debbie Slavin

Kathy - Jan 12, 2010

Thank you for sharing your family's story with us. I will be praying for your Mom and for you and your family.

rachel - Jan 12, 2010

Even in your moms passing, it is obvious she propagaed Gods Divine Mercy. He gave her you as a son, whom HE knew with Mother Mary you would spread His Divine Mercy even deeper through your Love for your mom, through HIS Word and Deed. I thank you for this article of Faith, Hope and Love. I needed it. Love, in The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, rachel

Loraine - Jan 12, 2010

WOW, thank you for sharing. You have helped grant release from my parents' deaths and those of so many others (nursing homes and hospitals where I worked) What a privilege to be at bedside and help people prepare for death. I alas did not submit myself to that for my parents, but fear and distancing myself from the pain and powerlessness, though I loved them, I had a hard time moving beyond it to be at bedside during their last moments. They did both have siblings and in-laws there to assist them. And that was answered, I prayed as I rested with those who were dying in my midst, that in return God would provide for my parents when the time would come. And He did just that, bless His name. I could give myself the grace to be with my sister this past summer as she went through a tragic accidental fall and subsequently after many days, died from a blood clot. I was there then and thereafter with and for her spouse. Thanks again to God for all His graces.