Tragic Car Accident Reveals God's Mercy

Nearly four years ago, Jay Hastings, of Bartlett, Tenn., organized what has become a growing group of Divine Mercy devotees who ensure that the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy is being prayed every hour of the day. The 24-hour Chaplet members now consist of nearly 400 people from across the United States, as well as from Mexico, Canada, the Philippines, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Belize, India, and Iraq, who are assigned an hour each day in which to pray.

They pray for three things: the promotion of the Divine Mercy devotion; the sick and dying in the hour that you pray; and people about to commit mortal sin.

The following is the first in a series of stories Jay will share about his group's ministry:

By Jay Hastings

Jesus tells us the importance of praying for the sick and dying. "Encourage souls to say the Chaplet which I have given you," Jesus told St. Faustina (Diary, 1541). "Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death" (687). "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 Savior" (1541).

If we are requested to do so, some members of our 24-Hour Chaplet of Divine Mercy prayer group pray over the sick and the dying using a first-class relic of St. Faustina. Allow me to share with you one such occasion.

A young man named Nick was badly bruised and stricken with pain, suffering from trauma all over his body. He was in a coma from a car accident. His family and friends were in distress, filled with sorrow.

After hearing of the accident through a friend, I called Nick's mom, Lauren. I offered to drive from Memphis, Tenn., to Jackson, Miss., to pray the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy for Nick - a trip of about 250 miles. As I was talking with Lauren, I sensed such an overwhelming feeling of holiness surrounding her and our phone call, which stayed with me for some time. I knew our Lord was calling upon my group to help her.

This was on a Saturday. My wife and I were planning to leave for Jackson the next morning because Nick was expected to be OK until then. That night, while my wife and I were grocery shopping, a friend of Lauren's had a vision of St. Faustina being at the right side of Nick's head.

Turns out, my wife and I would have a change of plans. Lauren asked us if we could come down to Jackson that Saturday evening, with St. Faustina's relic. It was around 6:30 p.m. We knew there was very little chance we would get to the hospital within the permitted visiting hours. Still, we decided to go - to forego dinner at home, to drop everything, and leave immediately.

Many graces were poured out that night to make sure a Chaplet was said by Nick's bedside. I know for our part, my wife and I entrusted it all to God. We went to the Church to get the relic, gassed up our car like racers do at a pit stop, and hopped on the interstate and headed for Jackson.

Because my wife was very hungry, along the way I decided to make a quick stop to grab a burger. Much to my surprise, as my wife brought it to my attention, we exited the interstate and had to cross a four-lane highway to get to a fast food drive-thru. Miraculously, all four lanes just opened up, and we crossed without delay. We got our burgers fast and jetted back on the interstate with hardly a delay.

We had to speed, and the freeway seemed to open up for us. We arrived by 10 p.m. Despite our tardiness, the hospital staff let us in. We were able to pray a Chaplet for Nick in Intensive Care with St. Faustina's relic at the right side of his head. The family was moved by our act of mercy and by how important we felt it was to pray this Chaplet from God.

Surrounded in holiness
Nick was a very holy young man. He affected the lives of those around him by his love and charity towards his friends, neighbors, and the people whom he met.

Nick died the next day, early in the morning.

There was an enormous turnout for his funeral. Many people recalled Nick's kind and Christ-like spirit. Many lives were touched from this sharing and the faith witness of his family. Many teenagers and adults were moved by the example of Nick, who was so spiritually focused. As people grieved, it was apparent that God's graces and mercy were being poured out in great abundance.

Since the funeral, God has continued to use this faithful young man's life and early death as an instrument of grace and mercy for others. For instance, the young man who was in the car with Nick survived the accident and is now becoming Catholic!

Another example is that some time after Nick's death, his mother, Lauren, was in Florida for a school event. Because of a time constraint, the only Mass available for her to attend was at a Byzantine Catholic Church. (It was named St. Nicholas, by the way.) A friend had recently told her that she had a vision in her heart of Nick walking with the saints. During the Byzantine liturgy, to Lauren's amazement, the congregation prayed the words used in the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy: "... Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world." Lauren viewed this as confirmation of her friend's vision - of the role St. Faustina had in helping Nick to go home to Heaven and of the sweet mercy and compassion of our Lord for those who are hurting.

Grace extends to roommate
Then, in July, Lauren received a call from Nick's former roommate, Brandon. He was in Washington, D.C., where he worked as an intern for a senator. The week of Nick's accident was particularly difficult for Brandon. He was away from anyone who knew Nick, and he missed his old roommate.

Brandon decided to go for a run. He put on his LSU shorts and Pi Kap T-shirt. Shortly after beginning his run, a young lady called out to him: "Hey, do you go to LSU?" Brandon replied, "Yes."

He stopped to speak with her. When she saw that Brandon was wearing a Pi Kap shirt, she asked if Brandon knew Brad Stidham (Nick's older brother). Brandon said, "Yes. Very well," and to that, the young lady said that she is his cousin, Amy! Amy had just moved to D.C. the week before. Some may call this a coincidence, but there isn't one person who knows Nick who doesn't believe that he had something to do with Brandon meeting Amy. God truly loves and cares for His children. He truly knows what we need and when we need it!

Jesus told St. Faustina: "I am Love and Mercy itself. When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls (Diary, 1074).

The story of Nick is proof of that promise being fulfilled.

To join the 24-Hour Chaplet, contact Jay Hastings via e-mail, or via phone, 901-438-7772.

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