Because All Have Fallen

Growing up, I remember a TV campaign promulgating the 3
o’clock habit: a recitation of the 3 o’clock prayer with the image
of the Divine Mercy in the background. It was broadcast across all
networks at the “Hour of Great Mercy.” I think a lot from my
generation will remember this voice:
Before
recently, I knew very little about the Divine Mercy Devotion.
Vaguely, I knew it involved Christ appearing to a Polish nun,
perhaps quite similarly as He did to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (I
grew up attending the Holy Hour every First Friday with my mother).
The 3 o’clock prayer, which I had memorized from my childhood
(because it aired right in the middle of afternoon cartoons), was
the most I knew about it. So little did I know about it that, on
the feast of the Divine Mercy last year, the lesson I shared with a
catechumen under my care was the seasons of the Liturgical Calendar
and the significance of Feast Day Celebrations. But when I started
hearing weekday mass with my mom at our old parish late last year,
I’d go with her an hour early for the recitation of the rosary and
the chaplet. I recognized the opening prayer as the 3 o’clock
prayer from before, but this repetitive, mantra-like pleas for
mercy was unfamiliar to me. Unfamiliar, strange, but somehow still
possessing enough beauty and poetry to get me curious about it. The
following months, it seemed like the Divine Mercy was divinely
hounding me. A friend whom I hadn’t seen for years telling me about
her reading of the the Diary of St. Faustina, and eventually
sending me her copy of the book. Serendipitously chancing upon a
Mother Angelica interview with a priest on the Divine Mercy (and I
cannot explain why, watching this show, I felt like one of the
disciples on the road to Emmaus, feeling as though my heart was
burning within me). By the time I finally got hold of a Kindle
version of the original Divine Mercy booklet, I was already
convinced that God was inviting me into His Divine Mercy. Allow me
to lift directly from the original booklet the section that
explains where the prayer came from.

In
1935, St. Faustina received a vision of an angel sent by God to
chastise a certain city. She began to pray for mercy, but her
prayers were powerless. Suddenly she saw the Holy Trinity and felt
the power of Jesus’ grace within her. At the same time she found
herself pleading with God for mercy with words she heard
interiorly:
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 (Diary, 475).
As she continued
saying this inspired prayer, the angel became helpless and could
not carry out the deserved
punishment.

When I first
heard the words of the chaplet, I wondered about the Theology
behind it. “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion…” Would I pray
better, understand better, if I attempted to grasp the concepts of
sacrifice, reparation, atonement in light of Christ’s Passion and
Death? After hearing so many Jesuits (from whom I usually choose to
receive formation during Holy Week Triduum) say that Christ’s death
was not a means to appease the wrath of an eternal God, the words
of this prayer suddenly forms a conundrum. However did we get in a
position to offer Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the
first place? And “in atonement for our sins?” And the way the
chaplet says it over and over and over again…are we reminding God
that He gave His only Son to die for our sins? Like He would forget
something like that? Sometime ago, I had gotten concerned that my
5-year-old was doing something undesirable in secret (it turned out
to be nothing in the end). In an effort to try and get him to tell
me what he was up to, I very carefully sat him down and explained
why there should be “no secrets in this house.” Since that day, my
son has been able to use that little rule to his advantage. When
he’s on one of his questioning barrages–What’s your favorite
plant/character/bird/weapon/hero (depends on what app he’s talking
about), Mama? What is the speed limit here? Why does Dada have hair
on his underarms but none on his head?–if I was too busy or too
lazy to think of a creative answer, I would get away with a
mischievous “Secret!” That is, until he started answering me with,
“Mama, there are no secrets in this house, remember?” Me and my big
mouth. Though the analogy is largely imperfect, this picture has
sort of helped me pray the chaplet. Like a small child who
intimately knows her parents, I plead with the Father using His
words, His rules, His actions. No, not trapping Him with His words,
but invoking His unfathomable Love and Mercy to overrule His wrath.
For now. For just one more time. Every time. In a conversation we
had recently, a friend was raising that God is merciful and loving,
yes, but that He is also a wrathful God, one that upholds justice
and truth. And that is precisely why the chaplet is the prayer we
need for our times. Looking around, what are the things we see that
offend God, that is a valid cause for Him to unleash destruction
upon the earth? Looking inside our heart and soul, what monsters
live in us that cause us to do that which greatly offend God?
Taking upon ourselves the stance of the chaplet, each plea we make
for God to have mercy on us for the sake of His sorrowful Passion
is less a reminder for God, but more for us to remember how
desperately we are in need of His Mercy.

By God's Mercy, my family and I were able to
celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at the newly consecrated Shrine of
Divine Mercy in Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan.

By God’s Mercy, my family
and I were able to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at the newly
consecrated Shrine of Divine Mercy in Puerto Prinsesa,
Palawan.

And so have I prayed the chaplet, including the
Novena that started on Good Friday to end on Divine Mercy Sunday
(1st Sunday after Easter). And as I prayed for each intention of
each day, I found that this was a prayer that needed to be prayed
on one’s knees, begging, pleading, but most of all trusting that
God’s Mercy can, and God’s Mercy will. No
matter who, no matter what, no matter how much.

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3 thoughts on “Because All Have Fallen

  1. Pingback: Because All Have Fallen | ChristianBookBarn.com

  2. I truly believe that God gives us what we need when we need it and I think that’s why He gave us the Divine Mercy Chaplet in our modern time. We have a great need in to beg for mercy for our own sins and to pray for conversion of sinners. That’s a lovely picture, Pauline. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Terry! This post is actually long overdue, originally wanted it out for Divine Mercy Sunday. But you know what, as you said, I got to write it when I needed to be reminded myself of God’s Mercy.

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