Marge Fenelon is an award-winning Catholic author and journalist, blogger, and speaker. She’s a long-time correspondent for National Catholic Register, and the author of several books on Marian devotion and Catholic family life. She’s also a weekly contributor to Relevant Radio’s “Morning Air Show” and a popular guest on several other Catholic radio and television shows. Marge is an instructor for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Deacon Wives Program.
When I first heard about the Divine Mercy Chaplet, I thought it was ridiculous.
That was in the year 2000, when St. Pope John Paul II canonized St. Faustina and granted universal observance of the Feast of Divine Mercy annually on the Second Sunday of Easter. Up to that point, I’d never heard of Divine Mercy, nor did I know much about chaplets in general. So, I knew nothing about the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
We have the Rosary; why do we need anything else? I thought to myself.
I figured one bead-related devotion was plenty. The Blessed Mother herself had given the devotion to St. Dominic (d. 1221), citing 15 promises to all who pray the Rosary. “Whatever you ask in the Rosary will be granted,” she told him.
Then she promised this:
- Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.
- I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
- The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
- The Rosary will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
- The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary,shall not perish.
- Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
- Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
- Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plentitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
- I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
- The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
- You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
- All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
- I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
- All who recite the Rosary are my sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of my only Son Jesus Christ.
- Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.
I figured that just about covers everything.
Given, those promises, I viewed similar devotions as a waste of time. Until, that is, I heard St. Pope John Paul II’s words in regard to St. Faustina and the devotion to Divine Mercy.
In his homily during the canonization Mass of St. Faustina, he said:
“Today my joy is truly great in presenting the life and witness of Sr Faustina Kowalska to the whole Church as a gift of God for our time. By divine Providence, the life of this humble daughter of Poland was completely linked with the history of the 20th century, the century we have just left behind. In fact, it was between the First and Second World Wars that Christ entrusted his message of mercy to her. Those who remember, who were witnesses and participants in the events of those years and the horrible sufferings they caused for millions of people, know well how necessary was the message of mercy.”
I was curious. Who is this Polish sister who so touched the heart of John Paul II?
So, I read her diary, cover to cover. Then, I read about the devotions connected with Divine Mercy – the promises, novena, and, yes, the Chaplet. What I discovered was like a lightening bolt zapping my heart.
I was especially “zapped” by what Jesus had told St. Faustina about the chaplet.
“Say unceasingly the Chaplet that I have taught you. Whoever will recite it, they will receive great mercy at the hour of death. Priests will recommend it 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)
I don’t consider myself a hardened sinner, but I do admit that I am indeed a sinner – and I am very much in need of Divine Mercy.
On another occasion, Jesus told St. Faustina this:
“It pleases me to grant everything souls ask of me by saying the chaplet. When hardened sinners say it, I will fill their souls with peace, and the hour of their death will be a happy one. Write this for the benefit of distressed souls; when a soul sees and realizes the gravity of its sins, when the whole abyss of the misery into which it immersed itself is displayed before its eyes, let it not despair, but with trust, let it throw itself into the arms of My mercy, as a child into the arms of its beloved mother. Tell them no soul that has called upon My mercy has been disappointed or brought to shame. I delight particularly in a soul that has placed its trust in My goodness. 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 Saviour.” (Diary, 1541)
It pleases Jesus to grant everything souls ask of him by saying the chaplet.
I was sold!
If Jesus promises those things, then I’m in. From that day on, I began praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet daily – or a near-daily as I could manage – at 3 p.m.
I still do pray the Rosary daily, and often, a number of times throughout the day. That’s a mainstay in my spiritual schedule. But the Divine Mercy Chaplet has become a mainstay as well.
This article originally appeared April 2, 2016, at the Register.