Early in my RCIA formation I met with our parish priest, Fr. Jim. You can read up on it here. At the end of that meeting, he gave me a small book titled, “The Divine Mercy, Message and Devotion.” I thumbed through the book and put it away. During many of Fr. Jim’s sermons he has mentioned St. Faustina Kowalska and her personal revelation of Divine Mercy.
Having heard about it so many times led me back to that little book. It definitely piqued my interest. Back in February, I was surfing EWTN on my ROKU and encountered The Chaplet of Divine Mercy being sang. It was breath takingly beautiful. It moved places in my heart that I don’t think I had recognized earlier. Here is a link to the EWTN Chaplet of Divine Mercy here. Later, I discovered another version in song, that moved me as well. I posted it several weeks ago, here.
At the time I was encountering this chaplet, I was seriously considering to stop smoking. I decided during Mass one day that I would stop on Good Friday, March 29th, 2013. In the following days, I knew I need a plan in order to be successful. I decided to use the patch. Even with that, I knew that I was going to have to shake up my normal routine greatly. I am a very addictive type, and am also very habitual. During another Mass, Fr. Jim mentioned that the parish would be praying the Divine Mercy Novena starting on Good Friday. I quickly saw this as a plan to do things very different. I made the necessary arrangements with work to take off. (Gotta love paid time off!) For those who are unfamiliar, novena means “nine days”. It meant that every day, I would follow the outline of personal revelation of St. Faustina. Yes, I had my personal intention of stopping smoking. With this novena, each day has a specific group to pray for: sinners, priests, children, non-believers, etc. I have learned from experience that praying for others while dealing with difficulties can be very helpful. This is what drew me most to the idea of making this committment. I believe by praying for others, I receive in return, God’s help with my own difficulties.
This also marked a big change in routine for me. I tend to be somewhat of a lay-a-bout. Actually, I am pretty lazy. To pray this novena at church I needed to be out of bed a 6 am. It didn’t allow me time, to ponder and suffer on being a non-smoker. So, every morning, bleary eyed, I showed up at SMG with my book and my beads. The only day I prayed at home was Easter Sunday. That is only because, the parish did not meet specifically that day to pray the novena. Another added benefit was being able to receive the Eucharist every morning (except Good Friday, I hadn’t been confirmed yet.)
What a blessing this Novena has been to me. I have become very attached to the prayers, and the chaplet. YES! I am still not smoking too! I haven’t been cured or zapped holy. In those moments when I really want to go get a cigarette, I can pause and say, “Jesus, I trust in you.” Or, “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world.” It really does help.
Another moment of providence (because as a catholic coincidence is moot), came after confirmation. After the Vigil we all gathered in the Holy Life Family Centre to chow down on some sandwiches. One of the RCIA sponsors came up with a gift bag. Mind you, I had no clue I would be getting a present from anyone, I was just happy to be Catholic. One of the books, Shelia gave me was, “Revelations of Divine Mercy.” It is a year-long devotional! How sweet and how neat. I’ve made St. Faustina’s personal revelation of Divine Mercy a big part of my studies for this year. It won’t be the only thing I read about, or the only prayers, I will say. It will be however, my anchor.
You see, I am a bit of an arrogant and pompous ass much of the time. I can be about as judgemental, rude, acerbic, and condescending as the love child of Bill Maher and George Carlin. I need to be more merciful and kind. I am grateful I have this awareness right now, and these tools available to me. I hope that this will add the strongest elements to my Catholic faith.
For some, it may be a little confusing. Personal revelation is also known as particular revelation. It isn’t a church teaching. It does not conflict with a church teaching in any way though. Blessed Pope John Paul recognized the power of St. Faustina’s personal revelation and helped to increase people’s awareness of it. The Sunday after Easter is designated as Divine Mercy Sunday.
I can share something else with you. You don’t have to be Catholic, or even own a set of rosary beads to pray the chaplet. There is nothing in the Divine Mercy Prayers that go against the grain for protestants. ( I hear people mumbling about prayers for souls in Purgatory.) That is part of the Novena, not the chaplet. (Someone just said there is a Hail Mary in there.) Look at it this way, the Hail Mary is entirely scripture. The only thing you are doing is acknowledging her place as the Mother of Jesus, and asking her to pray for you. If you are feeling stuck, or want to try some new prayers to get things moving, I have the basic instructions here.