On Wednesday I wrote a blog post about God’s Divine Mercy, Its feast day on the Sunday after Easter, and the novena leading up to the feast. So continuing this theme I want to write a reflexion on the chaplet of Divine Mercy which Jesus gave to St. Faustina. This chaplet is often prayed with with the novena, but it can be prayed often; and its brevity and simplicity cultivates humble reverence and love, the promises associated with it forming a channel for the sea of Mercy to flow into souls. Our Lord Jesus told St. Faustina:
‘My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given to you. It pleases Me to grant everything they 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. These souls have a right of priority to My compassionate Heart, they have first access to My mercy. Tell them that no soul that has called upon My mercy has been disappointed or brought to shame. I delight particularly in a soul which 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 just as the just Judge but as the merciful Savior.’1
How to pray it
The Divine Mercy chaplet, prayed on ordinary Rosary beads, usually begins with the Our Father, a Hail Mary, and the Apostle’s Creed. Then follows: ‘Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world’, followed by ten prayers of ‘For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.’ We repeat it five times, concluding with ‘Holy God, Holy Might One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world,’ said three times. At my parish, which is our diocesan shrine to the Divine Mercy, we often add three prayers of ‘O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in You.’ There are also optional opening and closing prayers that I’ll add below. This is one of my favourite prayers, and I shall share some reflexions on its words with the hope that it may instill in you us an awe, love, and devotion to the merciful love poured out continually at the Cross for all of us.
You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.”Diary, 1319 (optional introductory prayer)
Our Father, Our Mother, Our Forefathers
The Our Father begins this chaplet, because as it was given to Jesus by His Father, and by Jesus to us, so God’s mercy is given to us by God our Father in and through His Son. All goodness is given to us as mercy in Jesus Christ, the Father’s Gift to us, so we first address our Father of Mercy, appealing to Him as children redeemed at the unfathomable price of the Blood of Christ. Jesus said, ’As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.’2
Jesus, the gift of salvation, was and is given to us by the Holy Spirit through Mary His Mother. Thus we pray to Mary, by whose faith-filled ‘yes’ mankind received the Gift of Salvation. Through Her Jesus was shown to the poor shepherds and the gentiles,3 and to Simeon and Anna who expected Him.4 Through Her prayer to Jesus at the wedding of Cana, Jesus began His public ministries, ‘and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.’5 And at the Cross Mary stood with His disciple ‘whom he loved’, and He gave Her to be John’s Mother, and John to be Her son.6 When it says that John then took Her into his home, a better translation of the Greek ‘idia’ is that he took Her into is own soul. He took Her into his exterior and interior life, and let Her guide him to know and love Jesus, whom She knew, loved, and suffered with more than anyone. As Simeon prophesied: And a sword will pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.7
The Apostle’s Creed strengthens our faith in the love of God’s salvation and renews our hope in His promises. We unite ourselves to the Apostles, martyrs, Church Fathers, and all holy men and women who came before us, and who journey with us now. This cultivates humility, which is twofold: We acknowledge our need for God and His mercy, and we acknowledge His power and love for us Who is the source of all goodness. Then, with childlike trust in God’s mercy, we may ask Him to pour His mercy more abundantly on us and on all souls.
We beg our Father, the Giver of Life in His Spirit through His Son, to show us His mercy. St. Faustina wrote, ‘God is love, and mercy is His deed’, for mercy ‘flows from love.’8 To pray to God with humble trust is to accept His mercy which is His very essence. We call Him the eternal Father because He who created the the world out of love in an act of pure mercy always has been, is, and ever will be, from age unto age. We call this incomprehensible God ‘Father’ because through Baptism we become sons and daughters of God, for we are one with Jesus the true Son of God. Jesus prayed, ‘And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.’9
I offer You
Jesus is the Sacrament of Redemption, for He is both man and God, and human nature and the whole world are redeemed in Him—for He makes all things new, not makes all new things. The chaplet recalls His Passion in the terms we use for the Eucharist: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. In the liturgy of the Eucharist at Mass we offer God our love, our worship, the very work of our hands as bread and wine which symbolise the world; and the Spirit transforms these gifts of love into the Gift of the Father through the Spirit, this Gift Whom we receive and offer back in thanksgiving (for ‘Eucharist’ means ‘thanksgiving’). We can participate in this liturgy, this ‘work for the people’ by God, because we have His Spirit by Baptism, through Whom in Jesus Christ we call God our Father in intimate terms.10 The Mass is the fulfillment of this act of redemption and worship, but we do not lack His mercy outside of the Mass, for all grace and mercy pours out from the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Jesus. The grace of Baptism is not ‘old’, for Jesus makes all thinks new.11 The grace of the Eucharist does not leave unless we push God out by mortal sin, for: ‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him’,12 and ‘If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.’13 The Church is Jesus’ Body in union with this Eucharistic Sacrifice,14 offered once on the Cross at Calvary and made present on every altar at Mass, and we as a priestly people offer God the Body which was given for us, the Blood which is God’s Divine Mercy poured into our souls, the Soul that is pure and from Whom everything comes, the Divinity that is perfect and inundates our poor souls as the ocean envelops a single tear. As we are in Him and He in us, we offer ourselves in Jesus, and ask the Father for mercy in His Name.
Jesus, the Sacrifice of Salvation, is not a gift for the perfect, to be offered by those who do not need His mercy. All are in need of His mercy—the sinner to be saved, and the righteous to remain in grace. Jesus Christ Eucharist, the Gift of Divine Mercy, is salvation for sinners, hope for the weary, healing for the sick, strength for the afflicted, peace for the anxious, and joy to the lost. If we are baptised, we ask for God’s mercy to make us more like Himself, and to save all souls as He saved us. If you are not baptised, then know this simple truth: God has already offered the gift. In the words of C. S. Lewis, if you have not asked for His mercy: ‘Then do. At once. Ask for the Bleeding Charity. Everything is here for the asking and nothing can be bought.’15
For the sake of Jesus
All of our hope for happiness is trust in God’s love on the Cross. So we pray, ‘For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.’ For Christ alone is worthy, and only united to His Passion do we merit God’s graces through Him. We do not give God any other reason for why He should be merciful to us, for we implicitly acknowledge that all of our good deeds, our motives, our sorrowfulness for our sins, and even our faith are nothing without God’s grace merited in Christ’s life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension. We ourselves are ever nothing. Only Jesus’ Sacrifice may be offered to God in return for His mercy. As St. Faustina wrote concerning a vision she received: ‘I saw a great radiance and, in the midst of it, God the Father. Between this radiance and earth I saw Jesus, nailed to the Cross in such a way that when God wanted to look at the earth, He had to look through the wounds of Jesus. And I understood that it was for the sake of Jesus that God blesses the earth.’16
Have mercy on us and on the whole world
The ‘us’ as contrasted to ‘the whole world’ can, I think, most simply be understood as praying for the Church and for the whole world. I also like to include myself with whomever I am specifically praying for. This reminds me of the truth that I also am in need of this same mercy, and even more so. For I may have fallen into this sin, even unknowingly. And there are countless sins I have committed and am unaware of, and I need God’s mercy to not fall into sins in the future. God saves us, as it were, sometimes by pulling us out of a ditch and other times by preventing us from falling into it. In the end, I am always in need of His mercy because I am helpless, and whether I have sinned or not, all is because of His mercy. Someone once said that they had received more mercy than St. Mary Magdalene, because it was due to mercy that they had not sinned as she had.
Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal
After the five decades we pray, ‘Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.’ The basic structure of three names for the one God calls to mind the Trinity, reminding us that while we pray to our Father, we pray through and in and with His Son, and in union with the Holy Spirit. We cannot commune with one without the others, for we pray to one God, Who brings us into the community of His Love. For each person’s ultimate destiny is friendship with God.
We acknowledge God’s goodness and beg His mercy, because everything in this world is insufficient. To seek happiness or fulfillment on our own always fails, because nothing in this world is perfect, it’s never enough, and it never lasts.
I will say this again.
Nothing here is perfect, it’s never enough, and it never lasts.
And so we pray to the Holy God, the only one who is perfect; to the Holy Mighty One, the only one who is good enough; to the Holy Immortal One, the only one who is unchanging, without beginning or end, ever new yet Ancient of Days, in Whom is life, and this life is the light of men.17 We all have a natural desire to be perfectly happy and fulfilled forever. This isn’t a selfish desire in itself, for God gave it to us. But it can only be filled by Him. This is what the theological virtue of hope is: desire for friendship with God, and trust in His promises to grant this. And He who gave us this desire longs to fill us with His very self, His perfection, His life, His everything. This is Divine Mercy.
“Though we speak much we cannot reach the end, and the sum of our words is: ‘He is the all.’” ~Sirach 43:27
O Blood and Water
This prayer may be said at any time and is not part of the chaplet, but in the tradition of my parish, I like to add it three times at the end. St. Faustina wrote of this prayer:
‘Today Jesus said to me, “I desire that you know more profoundly the love that burns in My Heart for souls, and you will understand this when you meditate upon My Passion. Call upon My mercy on behalf of sinners; I desire their salvation. When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion. This is the prayer:
‘O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You.’”’18
The image of Divine Mercy, shown to St. Faustina in a vision and then commissioned by her, shows Jesus with one hand raised in peace, and the other touching His Heart, from which shine two rays, pale and red. She writes: ‘During prayer I heard these words within me: “The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls… These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. These rays shield shield from the wrath of My Father. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him. I desire that the first Sunday after Easter be the Feast of Mercy.”’19
This prayer calls us to contemplate the Passion, after which Jesus poured out His Blood and Water from His side pierced with a lance. From the side of Adam came forth Eve, his bride; and from the side of Jesus, the new Adam, comes forth the salvation that transforms us from dust and misery into His Bride, the Church. Concluding with these words, we remember the price for which we were paid, the assurance of God’s love for us, and the hope which we have in the merciful Heart of Jesus, outside of which there is no mercy, nor goodness, nor hope. Yet in Him, the All, we lack nothing.
‘Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.’Diary, 950 (optional conclusion prayer)
I hope that this has aided in showing the depth and beauty of this prayer which is so needed in our broken world. May we hope in God’s mercy, offering this petition with confidence in ‘him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask for or think.’20 And may we cultivate within us an adoration of Jesus, rejoicing and sorrowing at the love of His Suffering and Death for our sakes. ‘And despite all these joys, there is always a shadow of sorrow. I see that love and sorrow go hand in hand.’21
‘O Great Merciful God, Infinite Goodness, today all mankind calls out from the abyss of its misery to Your mercy – to Your compassion, O God; and it is with its mighty voice of misery that it cries out. Gracious God, do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles! O Lord, Goodness beyond our understanding, Who are acquainted with our misery through and through, and know that by our own power we cannot ascend to You, we implore You: anticipate us with Your grace and keep on increasing Your mercy in us, that we may faithfully do Your holy will all through our life and at death’s hour. Let the omnipotence of Your mercy shield us from the darts of our salvation’s enemies, that we may with confidence, as Your children, await Your final coming – that day known to You alone. And we expect to obtain everything promised us by Jesus in spite of all our wretchedness. For Jesus is our Hope: Through His merciful Heart, as through an open gate, we pass through to heaven.’Diary, 1570
- Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, paragraph 1541.
- John 15:9.
- Luke 2:8-20.
- Luke 2:22-38.
- John 2:11.
- John 19:26-27.
- Luke 2:35.
- Diary, 651, 703.
- John 17:23.
- Romans 8:15.
- Revelation 21:5.
- John 6:56.
- John 15:10.
- 1 Corinthians 10:17.
- The Great Divorce.
- Diary, 60.
- John 1:4
- Diary, 186-187.
- Diary, 299.
- Ephesians 3:20.
- Diary, 881.