History: In the roaring twenties when Europe was experiencing the serious difficulties of rebuilding after the devastation of WWI, a young woman named Helen Kowalska from Poland was called by the Lord to become a religious sister and dedicate her life to Jesus in prayer, penance, and above all as a messenger of God’s Divine Mercy to the whole world. World War II was years away, but the roots of violence and war were already present. Who but the Lord could prepare the world to face this great evil that stood at the doorsteps of Poland and other nations? Jesus chose a very humble young woman to become an apostle of mercy at that critical moment. She is recognized today as Saint Faustina Kowalska, canonized as the first saint of this new millennium. God’s message of mercy that has come to us through her diary has deep significance for us today. Sister Faustina was a mystic. Jesus came to her, sometimes in visible form and instructed her to write a diary entitled Divine Mercy in my Soul. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the Lord’s mercy. In it, the Lord revealed the sentiments of his Divine Heart toward us sinners. Here is one example: “Be not afraid of your savior, O sinful soul. I make the first move to come to you, for I know that by yourself, you are unable to lift yourself to me. Child, do not run away from your Father; be willing to talk openly with your God of mercy who wants to speak words of pardon and lavish his graces on you. How dear your soul is to Me. I have inscribed your name upon my hand; you are engraved as a deep wound in My Heart.” (par 1485 in Diary)
Why pray the chaplet: We all may not be chosen to receive the kind of graces Saint Faustina did, but we all can become contemplative, prayerful, merciful people. We especially need this message at this time in history. What Jesus told her in many and various ways was to pray for mercy, to trust in His mercy and to be merciful to others. To grow in trust in the mercy of Jesus, we first must pray and ask for it. As we receive mercy our trust in the Lord grows. The peace of our soul increases because our soul is not empty, but filled with God. When we allow His mercy to heal our hearts and fill us with new faith and confidence, we are able to be merciful to others. We become apostles of mercy, too. For our spiritual health we are being called to be merciful as the Lord is merciful to us. “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.” Our world badly needs peace and mercy. How can we obtain mercy and peace for ourselves and the world? Our Lord asked Sr. Faustina to pray what has become known as the “Chaplet of Divine Mercy.” He said, “Say unceasingly the chaplet that I have taught you. Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. Even if there was a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy. I desire that the whole world know of my infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy.” (par 687 in Diary)
How to pray the chaplet: Pray using rosary beads. 1. You begin the chaplet with the sign of the cross followed by praying the Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Apostle’s Creed. These prayers remind us that we are in God’s family. We have a merciful Father in heaven who cares for our every need. We have Mary as our Heavenly Mother given to us in mercy by our Lord Jesus as He died on the cross. He said to the beloved disciple in John’s Gospel, “Behold your mother.” We have a great family of faith that professes a single faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and we acknowledge the communion we share with the whole Church. We are not alone. 2. The next prayer is said on the large central bead that begins the first decade of the rosary. Each decade of the rosary is begun by praying the Our Father. In place of the Our Father, Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to pray the following prayer: “Eternal Father, I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Your dearly Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins, and those of the whole world.” 3. After this prayer the following prayer is said 10 times in place of the normal Hail Mary: “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” 4. After reciting the above prayer 10 times, the chaplet repeats. You would pray “Eternal Father, I offer you ... ” in place of the Our Father followed by the prayer “For the sake of his sorrowful passion ... ” 10 times. 5. At the end of 50th bead, the following prayer is said three times: “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” That is it! I would suggest that as one prays the words of the chaplet that one also keeps in mind the merciful love of our Lord. Meditate on the Passion of Jesus. Prayerfully read one of the Gospel passages where Jesus reveals the mercy of God by forgiving a sinner. After the reading, spend some time in quiet meditation before reciting the chaplet.