Modern Christians have a rich treasure of formal meditative prayers available to them with one of the greatest is the Rosary. Another relatively recent gift has been the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy given to us by Jesus through Saint Faustina in 1935. This short but powerful repetitive prayer which can be said with Rosary beads can bring us closer to our Savior and save souls. “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and the whole world,” is the prayer recited the most in the Chaplet and helps direct our minds toward the great sacrifice our Savior made and the inexhaustible Mercy he has for us.
As one who has a deep appreciation for this beautiful prayer, I’m confident it has enriched my spiritual life. But my concern is that the short repetitive nature of the Divine Mercy Chaplet causes my mind to drift at times and lose focus. I suspect others may experience similar effects. While praying the Chaplet recently, I developed a practice to help maintain attention to the suffering our Savior endured while reciting the prayer itself. I would like to think St. Faustina inspired me but even if she didn’t, I hope and pray she would be pleased with this recommended enhancement that I would like to share to help others experience a deeper connection to Jesus while praying the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.
As the Chaplet can be prayed on a Rosary using the five decades, the supplicant can first complete the optional opening prayers and primary prayers of the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Apostle’s Creed. Then we begin to focus on the Sorrowful mysteries and pray The Eternal Father prayer of “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” at the beginning of each mystery. And then for each set of ten beads for the primary prayer of “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and the whole world,” we would contemplate different aspects of our Lord’s Passion.
For the first mystery of “The Agony in the Garden,” Luke tells us that “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” For this portion, each time you recite the primary prayer, you should envision a drop of sweat and blood dripping from a different spot on Jesus’s face. For example, as you recited the prayer, you thought about a drop of blood that would have flowed from his right temple. The next moment, a drop from the top of his forehead. This would continue for all ten of the primary prayers and allow us to contemplate ten different spots on Jesus’s face and head that dripped blood.
For the second mystery “The Scourging at the Pillar,” the supplicant would envision a separate whip strike to a different part of Jesus’s body for each main prayer. This may be uncomfortable to envision the terrible ferocity and damage that each strike inflicted on our Lord, but it will strengthen the prayer and help us focus fuller on the horrible pain he must have felt. Here, we would recite the ten main prayers and when completed would have contemplated ten different scourge injuries on Jesus.
For the third mystery “The Crowning with thorns,” we would envision a different thorn sticking into a different part of our Savior’s head for each primary prayer. We could contemplate how each thorn must have shifted around while stuck in his head which caused sharp piercing pain to Jesus as he was carrying the cross.
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world
For the fourth mystery “The carrying of the Cross,” Jesus was forced to carry on his shoulder the immense weight of a wooden cross. Our Savior revealed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux that the most painful wound to Him was to the shoulder that bore the cross. We have also learned that St. Padre Pio had revealed to Fr. Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) that he had suffered not only the stigmata but the wound to Jesus’s shoulder. A religious brother even discovered an undershirt of St. Pio that was bloodstained at the right shoulder. For this portion of the Chaplet, we would envision the shifting of the cross on Jesus’s shoulder and the tearing of skin and tissue around different parts of his shoulder area for beads 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10. When reciting the prayer for beads 3, 6 and 9, we would envision each painful and humiliating fall of our Lord on the Way of the Cross.
For the fifth and final mystery “The Crucifixion,” we know that each breath Jesus took on the Cross was particularly agonizing especially towards the end of the three hours He suffered. For each bead of the primary prayer, we would envision our Lord struggling to take a single gasping breath of air. This action would have required Him to pull His devastated Body upward further pressing and tearing at the wounds to his hands and feet. For the 10th bead, we would contemplate Christ saying “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit” and then taking his last breath. We then mournfully pause for our Lord.
We would conclude with the Holy God prayer of “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world” which is recited three times. We can also include the optional closing prayer as taught.
The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy is an amazingly beautiful prayer brought to us from St. Faustina as a gift from Jesus himself. It can play an integral part in our prayer life and hopefully these suggestions to enhance it may enrich that experience even more. The reader may find them useful as a resource or use them as inspiration to develop their form for highlighting the struggle of our Lord while praying the Chaplet or any meditative prayer for that matter.
May God richly bless us all with His Mercy, Grace, and Love.