Discovery in a drawer 'too good' to ignore
After her mother's death five years ago, Miriam Gomez-Bracety had the painful task of sorting through her personal effects. But when Miriam came across a drawer filled with her mother's spiritual devotions, she found something that would change her life.
Inside was a little piece of paper folded in half. One side contained a prayer she had never seen before. The other side had an unfamiliar image of Jesus Christ.
Miriam didn't know what to make of it until a few days later. As per tradition in the Hispanic community when a loved one dies, Miriam was in the midst of praying the Rosary for nine days in her mother's house in Puerto Rico when one day a man came to the house.
"He said, 'I want your permission to say the coronilla,'" recalls Miriam. "I said, 'What's that?' He said, 'You'll find out soon enough.'"
Turns out the man and Miriam's mother, Ramonita Rivera, attended a Divine Mercy prayer group together and that Mariam's mother had a very strong devotion to The Divine Mercy. Miriam had never heard of Divine Mercy. The word "coronilla" is Spanish for "chaplet." The man was referring to the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, the very prayer Miriam had found in her mother's drawer. The image of Jesus on the slip of paper was the famous Divine Mercy image.
That night, after the Rosary, the man got up and gave out images of The Divine Mercy with the chaplet on the other side. Then, he taught those gathered how to pray it.
"We finished praying the chaplet, and I was feeling very sad," recalls Mariam. "I remember at that moment I thought to myself, 'Oh gosh, is my mother in heaven or is she in purgatory?' I had been very worried about her. I wanted so much for God to tell me where she was."
At that moment, the man got up and explained about the chaplet and the promise that Jesus made to St. Faustina: "Whoever will recite [the chaplet] will receive great mercy at the hour of death," Jesus told St. Faustina (Diary of St. Faustina, 687).
"I'll never forget for as long as I live what the man said next," says Miriam. "He said, 'Well, we all know where Ramonita Rivera is. We have no doubt. She's with the Lord.'
"I remember that at that moment, every single hair on my body just stood on end, and I said, 'Oh, thank You Lord! You've used this man as an instrument to assuage my fears and to give me confidence that, through Your mercy, you have forgiven her and she is in Your kingdom,'" says Miriam.
When Mariam arrived back home, in North Bergen, NJ, she translated the chaplet into English. A woman she knew recognized the prayer and referred her to the Marians of the Immaculate Conception in Stockbridge, MA, who publish St. Faustina's Diary and other Divine Mercy material.
"I called up Stockbridge and ordered everything I could get my hands on that would explain more in depth about Divine Mercy and St. Faustina," she says.
Then, when Miriam received a financial windfall through an inheritance left to her by her mother, she decided what she'd do with it. After giving some of it to her three grown sons, she vowed to use the bulk of it to spread the message of The Divine Mercy. Specifically, she establishes Divine Mercy prayer groups in local parishes.
"I don't ask the parishes for any financial help whatsoever," says Miriam. "I figure it will open the doors easier for me if the pastors know they don't have an added financial responsibility. I supply all the materials that the people need."
She has since established four Divine Mercy prayer groups — in English and Spanish — at three different parishes in northern New Jersey. The groups meet once a week for about an hour for prayer, singing, and reflection. They also practice works of mercy, such as purchasing groceries for the local food bank.
"Divine Mercy is the most wonderful gift God can give all of us," says Miriam. "No matter what you've done in your life, if you are truly repentant, He will save you. There's nothing greater than that."
A folded up piece of paper in a drawer turned out to be the greatest discovery of her life.
"I have to let other people know," she says. "It's too good to keep quiet about."