In 1935, shortly before the outbreak of World War II, a young Polish nun – who we now know as St. Faustina – received a vision of an angel from God. She described the angel as an “executor of divine wrath”1 who had been sent to strike the earth. St. Faustina began to plead with God for the world, but her prayers were powerless in the face of such divine anger. Then suddenly, she saw the Holy Trinity and felt the power of Jesus’ grace in her soul. She began pleading with God for mercy, praying the words that she heard within the interior of her soul:
“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 word; for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”2
As she continued to pray these words, the angel became helpless and was unable to carry out the just punishment.
The next day, as St. Faustina was entering the chapel, she again heard the interior voice of the Lord speaking to her. He instructed her on how to recite the prayer that He later called “the Chaplet.” From then on, St. Faustina recited this form of prayer almost constantly, offering it especially for those who were dying.
In subsequent revelations, the Lord made it clear that the Chaplet was not meant just for St. Faustina, but for the whole world. He attached extraordinary promises for anyone who recites it. An incredible gift of grace is offered to all Catholics who obey the following three instructions:
- On Good Friday, begin a 9-day Novena of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
- Worthily celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to the Divine Mercy Sunday Mass.3 Our Lord does not explicitly say that we have to confess on the Feast Day itself; St. Faustina confessed on the Saturday before.
- Worthily receive Holy Communion on the Feast of Divine Mercy. We must not receive our Lord with indifference but must prepare our hearts with due love and reverence.4
Everyone who faithfully does these things shall have their souls wiped clean – as though they had just experienced Baptism!5 In other words, not only will your sins be forgiven in this life, but all your punishments due to sin in the next life will also be wiped clean! This means that if you were to die any time following the Feast of Divine Mercy, you would account before God only for those things that you have done or failed to do from that Feast day onwards.
God also asks us to venerate the image of Jesus, The Divine Mercy. This image should have a special place of honour as a visual reminder of all that Jesus did for us through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. The image also serves as a reminder of what Jesus asks of us in return: to trust Him and to be merciful to others. According to Jesus, “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…”6 He goes on to say: “These rays shield souls 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.”7 … “I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.”8 We will not be separated from our Lord but will live with Him for all eternity.
Prayed on ordinary rosary beads, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is an intercessory prayer that extends the offering of the Eucharist, so it is especially appropriate to use it after having received Holy Communion at Holy Mass. Although it may be said at any time, our Lord specifically told St. Faustina to recite it during the nine days before the Feast of Mercy (the first Sunday after Easter). It is likewise appropriate to pray the chaplet during the “Hour of Great Mercy” – at three o’clock each afternoon (recalling the time of Christ’s Death on the Cross). In His revelations to St. Faustina, Our Lord asked for a special remembrance of His Passion at that hour.
There are many graces that flow to us, as well as to others, when we pray this chaplet. Jesus has promised, “Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death.”9 Furthermore, He tells us, “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.”10 … “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. I desire that the whole world know My infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy.”11 … “Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.”12
– Sharon van der Sloot
Click here to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet
1 Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul, 3rd ed. (Stockbridge, MA: Marian Press, 2007), 474.
2 Ibid., 476.
3 Divine Mercy Sunday is the first Sunday after Easter. In 2013, it falls on April 7th.
4 Our Lord revealed to St. Faustina that “My great delight is to unite Myself with souls. … When I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay any attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things. Oh, how sad I am that souls do not recognize Love! They treat me as a dead object.” (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1385.)
5 Cf. Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1109, 300, 699.
6 Ibid., 299.
8 Ibid., 48.
9 Ibid., 687.
10 Ibid., 1541.
11 Ibid., 687.
12 Ibid., 1731.
For more information about the Devotion to Divine Mercy, an excellent reference is:
Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC and Vinny Flynn, The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion (Stockbridge, MA: Marian Helpers, 1991)