Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Reflection on the Divine Mercy Chaplet

I discovered, fairly recently, a prayer called the Divine Mercy Chaplet (Prayer and its history at, which I've found to be quite fulfilling. Along with the Rosary, which lends its name to the instrument upon which the chaplet is prayed, Chaplets such as the Divine Mercy fall into a category of Meditative Prayers. Now, I bought a rosary about four months ago and barely ever used it, because I had a hard time connecting with the Rosary prayer itself, unable to hold the words and the mysteries in my head at the same time. With this chaplet, I find that to be very different. It's a wholly connective experience, one which I enjoy.

The three major prayers of the Church are incorporated (though I tend to close with the doxology, making it four): the Apostle's Creed, the Our Father, and the Hail Mary. The Creed itself defines, in essence, the sum total of every Christian's faith, excluding, perhaps, minor doctrinal issues. The same is true of the Our Father, which, after all, is the prayer that Jesus showed us all to pray in the Gospel. The Hail Mary, likewise, is important. As the first saint, so to speak, Mary has a close ear with Jesus and is a powerful and caring intercessor. Having said that, I'm no Mariologist, and I don't teach the subject well, or especially understand it.

Overall, the actual body of the Chaplet itself is a stirringly beautiful piece of imagery. We are made to remember the Passion of Christ and the sacrifice at Cavalry. The chaplet in that sense calls to mind the Eucharist, as well. Jesus died for our sins and we lament even for the sin of His death. The prayer makes one feel the weight of the world and a responsibility to it. One is aware of one's own mortality and the mortality of others. In this prayer, we are reminded that Jesus did not sacrifice Himself purely to save the "I", but the "We". He died to save Man, not a man. The ultimate act of Mercy.

To me, that's very much what the Catholic faith is about: Mercy. That's what Christianity is about, that's what religion should be about. Bradley Whitford said that "If Religion is to be a bridge, and not a wedge, if it is to be a virtue, and not a vice, than religion must be of peace, and not the sword." For me, Mercy and Forgiveness are one and the same. Perhaps I am merely a vengeful man, but the only way to be merciful to someone is to forgive them for whatever they had did, and in forgiving someone, I must show them my mercy.

And that, ultimately, is what we are called as Christians to do. To be forgiven by God as we have forgiven those who trespassed against us. It is true, what is said, that an eye for the eye will make the world go blind. The world is already plagued with cataracts: just wars, death penalties, castrations, abortions, scandals. We are blinded to the real issues of the world by the mammon of taxes and the vengence for crimes long-passed, which were vengeance for our own crimes. The sick are dying, the glaciers are melting, the oppressed are breaking, and the unborn aren't being born. Two things need to happen before this world can be healed, and the major one is for us all to have Mercy with one another.

That is, after all, what Jesus would do.

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