The Chaplet Sets the Philippines Free! - and the First Papal Visit to St. Faustina's Tomb

The Chaplet especially became very popular. Here was a form of prayer invoking God's mercy upon the whole world, and extending the Eucharistic offering of Jesus Christ with an intercessory intention (entry 476):

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; for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

In fact, Jesus had attached the most extraordinary promises to the sincere and devout recitation of this Chaplet. As He said to Sr. Faustina (entries 1541, 687, 1731):

Encourage souls to say the Chaplet I have given you. ... Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. ... 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. ... Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.

In the mid-1980's, for example, the people of the Philippines turned as a nation to The Divine Mercy through a daily nationwide broadcast of the Three O' Clock Hour of Mercy prayers and the Chaplet. They pleaded with the Lord for a peaceful and just settlement of their national conflict. Almost miraculously, a non-violent revolution did take place, and a democracy was restored to that poor, yet faithful country.

Meanwhile, convincing evidence of a miracle of healing attributed to Sr. Faustina's intercession removed the last obstacle to the recognition of her sanctity by the universal Church. As a result, on April 18, 1993, on the Sunday after Easter (Mercy Sunday), she was given the title "Blessed" at a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. In his homily at that beatification, the Holy Father exclaimed:

Her mission continues and is yielding astonishing fruit. It is truly marvellous how her devotion to the Merciful Jesus is spreading in our contemporary world, and gaining so many human hearts! This is doubtless a sign of the times, a sign of our 20th century. The balance of this century that is now ending ... presents a deep restlessness and fear of the future. Where, if not in the Divine Mercy, can the world find refuge and the light of hope? Believers understand that perfectly.

On January 23, 1995, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship granted to the bishops of Poland - the first group of bishops to make the request - the right to celebrate the liturgical Feast of Mercy on the Sunday after Easter, the very day in the liturgical calendar that the Lord had requested of Sr. Faustina. Then on the Sunday after Easter, 1995, the Holy Father himself celebrated "Mercy Sunday" in the city of Rome, establishing at the same time an international center for the devotion at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia (just a few hundred yards away from St. Peter's Basilica) and blessing an image of The Divine Mercy for that church.

If there remained doubt in anyone's mind about the general approval of this message and devotion by the See of St. Peter, that doubt was removed by the Pope's visit to the tomb of Bl. Faustina near Cracow in the summer of 1997, and by the remarkable address he delivered there at the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. In that address he not only explained the importance of this message and devotion to all souls seeking for God, he also told of how important it has been to him personally, in his own spiritual journey:

There is nothing that man needs more than Divine Mercy - that love which is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to the infinite heights of the holiness of God. In this place we become particularly aware of this. From here, in fact, went out the Message of Divine Mercy that Christ himself chose to pass on to our generation through Blessed Faustina. And it is a message that is clear and understandable for everyone. Anyone can come here, look at this image of the merciful Jesus, His Heart radiating grace, and hear in the depths of his own soul what Blessed Faustina heard: "Fear nothing. I am with you always." And if this person responds with a sincere heart: "Jesus, I trust in You," he will find comfort in all his anxieties and fears. ... On the threshold of the third millennium I come to entrust to Him once more my Petrine ministry - "Jesus, I trust in You!"

The message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me. It is as if history had inscribed it in the tragic experience of the Second World War. In those difficult years it was a particular support and an inexhaustible source of hope, not only for the people of Kraków but for the entire nation. This was also my personal experience, which I took with me to the See of Peter and which in a sense forms the image of this Pontificate. I give thanks to divine Providence that I have been enabled to contribute personally to the fulfilment of Christ's will, through the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy. Here, near relics of Blessed Faustina Kowalska, I give thanks also for the gift of her beatification. I pray unceasingly that God will have "mercy on us and the whole world."

(This series continues next week on the Divine Mercy Spirituality of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska).


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