May 4, 2007

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

An awakening to Christ’s Divine Mercy

Shirley Vogler MeisterMy home is a few blocks from my parish church so I often hear our relatively new bells chiming at the usual Angelus times as well as for Masses and special spiritual events.

However, when I first heard the bells at Christ the King Church in Indianapolis chiming at 3 o’clock that afternoon, I was perplexed. I soon learned that this is the time for Divine Mercy devotions, which were initiated by St. Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy (1905-38).

I knew little about the practice or St. Faustina. I found this strange since I am a cradle Catholic. Then when The Criterion listed the parishes that were planning Divine Mercy holy hours on the Sunday after Easter, I was curious enough to make it a priority.

The first thing I read when opening the Divine Mercy program that afternoon at Christ the King Church was this quotation from Pope John Paul II: “… the light of Divine Mercy will illumine the way for men and women of the third millennium.”

Then I happily realized that this devotion was well-attended, but not just because there had been exposition of the Blessed Sacrament the hour before. In fact, exposition and adoration continued afterward, too.

I was edified by this as well as by the service itself—the heartfelt singing by the congregation, Father Tony Volz’s inspiring message and the Divine Mercy prayers themselves. The dignified presence of the Knights of Columbus holding vigil and participating in the procession of the Holy Eucharist also provided a reverent ambience.

Divine Mercy devotions began with Christ’s apparitions to Sister Faustina—who was canonized in 2000—apparitions in which Jesus recalled his death on the cross as noted by the sister in her diary:

“At three o’clock, implore my mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in my Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in the virtue of My Passion.”

At, readers will find everything they need to know about how to approach these daily prayers, including the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which includes special use of the rosary.

If nothing else, I have learned that whenever I hear the bells or notice it is 3 p.m. when elsewhere, I might not be able to make the Stations of the Cross or be present before the Blessed Sacrament, but I can certainly mentally pause for an instant and say, “Jesus, Mercy” or “Jesus, for the sake of Your Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

How simple that is!

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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