Truth be told, I have been interested in praying this chaplet for some time now. However, I kept putting it off until it was forgotten. Life kept throwing clues at me and I kept brushing them off. My sister gave me a nice prayer booklet for the chaplet some time ago and it was placed on my drafting table...only to be forgotten for months on end (in an ever increasing pile of scientific papers, junk mail, and countless sheets of desktop calendar dragons). I had an inner yearning to improve my prayer life and kept seeing Divine Mercy images in my mind. I temporarily quelled this hunger for prayer life improvement by adding a small prayer at the end of each decade of the rosary:
As close as this prayer was to the message behind the Divine Mercy Chaplet, it was not the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It is still a beautiful prayer, but I needed more. To make a long story short, I kept putting off the Divine Mercy Chaplet because I felt that I did not have the time for it. This all changed during my confession.
You see, this padre was somehow able to look into my soul and see what I needed to do in my personal religious life. The first thing he told me was that I needed to see Jesus more often....through the sacrament of reconciliation. He explained the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and essentially repeated everything my conscience had been telling me for months. I need to receive the Eucharist far more often than once or twice every few months. My spiritual life was becoming dusty and full of cobwebs. It needed more activity...more effort on my part. Fortunately, this padre told me everything I would need to do to give my soul the spiritual feast it was hungering for...the awakening I needed. It was almost like he smacked some sense into me from the other side of the confessional screen. He made me realize that I had been ignoring the yearnings that the Holy Spirit had instilled within me. He made me realize that even though I knew what my spirit needed, I was ignoring its needs in favor of fear, weakness, and lack of self-discipline. This padre was just that good...
For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but of power and love and discipline.- Timothy 1:7
I was afraid to pray the chaplet on top of the rosary and all of my other daily prayers because it would mean spending more time to pray. I'm strapped for time as is, so I listened to this fear because I was weak. I was under the impression that I was limited in my time and abilities to "pray without ceasing." I knew what my medicine was and as much as my spirit craved it, I refuse to take it. All of my excuses were pathetic...I know this now. However, for several months, I clung to these excuses as if they were a lifeline. I already prayed enough, right? No. If my spirit is longing for more prayer, that is a sure sign that I need more prayer in my life. Here's the kicker, I love prayer and it is the most relaxing part of my day. Why was I, therefore, avoiding it? Laziness, fear, and a lack of self-discipline. Perhaps, even temptation.
On a personal level, I am not too familiar with this priest. However, he seemed to know me and what I needed to do with my religious life. Perhaps it was the first-class Padre Pio relic he had with him. Word on the street is that Padre Pio was quite the confessor, with the ability to look into the soul of the penitent. I believe I had such an experience this past weekend. At one point during the confession, I could not help but thank him "Telling me exactly what my soul needed to hear today." He helped me realize that I had been called to go to confession this past Saturday by a Spirit that had been calling me there for months. I had been called to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet...and I had been called to go to Confession at least once every week. I was just too stubborn, stupid, and afraid to listen.
At penance, this padre prescribed the Divine Mercy Chaplet, three times a day before each mealtime for an entire week. This turned out to be easier than I thought...and a great experience. The padre also prescribed my going to confession (with a shorter list of sins) within a week....this turned out to be tough. It was tough to avoid temptation considering just how much temptation is out there once you open your eyes. Penance aside, he also suggested that I shorten my list of sins and consider going on a pilgrimage to fan the spark within me....that will become a blazing fire if I fan it enough. He helped me realize that God has great things planned for me and that I have to work for them and start listening to the yearnings in my heart and the hunger in my soul for something greater. He helped affirm what I already suspected but was too afraid to believe...
That I am a lazy and timid visionary who needs to shake off my inner weaknesses and fears.
That I am a part of the New Evangelization.....
That I cannot keep a blog like this one if I cannot change my own life for the better.
That I am being drawn to something that I should love beyond all trepidation...something that deserves far more time in my day and far more effort on my part.
My inner time management nut was appalled at the idea of how much time I would have to invest in penance this week. My inner sinner cringed at the thought of having to go to confession again within a week. Yet, my inner saint rejoiced. More prayer time with God! More effort to sin less during this week! More self-discipline! In the end, the saint won and I feel that the Divine Mercy chaplet has helped me do so much within these past 7 days. I became more aware of how impatient and judgmental I can be with other people. I have realized that I need to be more forgiving. I have also realized that God is far more merciful than He gets credit for. It's finally starting to sink in...the amount of love God has for us...the perfection of this love...and the authenticity of this love. God truly loves us regardless of how many times we mess up and how badly we mess up. He's still trying to get us to come back...because He knows us far too well and loves us far too much to ever give up on us. Jesus suffered and died for us....not because we were lost causes...but because of God believes in us and is convinced that we, though imperfect, are worth the trouble.
That's right, regardless of what the world (and evil in general) tries to tell you, you are not a lost cause. Someone up there loves you and will always love you. This past weekend was just another example of how God loves us. He knew exactly what I needed, even though I refused to do what was best. He did not give up on me...even when I was slowly giving up on myself and the growth of my spiritual live. Instead, He gave me everything I needed to come to Him. He filled me with a yearning to be with Him, the courage I needed to follow Him, and hope. On top of this, He offered me mercy...and this is one of the best gifts I am learning to give as well as receive.