October 2021: Has The Divine Mercy Become Like The Rosary?
There is much controversy about the devotion to Divine Mercy, especially the chaplet and novena. Many traditional minded Catholics reject the idea of Divine Mercy, and yet this idea is in Sacred Scripture in many places. Read the 135th Psalm, which begins: "Praise the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." Saint Gertrude also had a devotion to both the Sacred Heart and to Divine Mercy.
Those who accept the Divine Mercy devotions, the chaplet and novena, usually accept the promises, which state that the most hardened sinner can be converted by this devotion.
Can the Rosary be abused?
Before we continue, let us consider this question.
This may sound like a strange question, but any devotion can be misused. Saint Louis de Montfort enumerates a number of false devotees to the Blessed Virgin Mary. "I find seven kinds of false devotees and false devotions to our Lady, namely, (1) the critical devotees; (2) the scrupulous devotees; (3) the external devotees; (4) the presumptuous devotees; (5) the inconstant devotees; (6) the hypocritical devotees; and (7) the interested devotees." (True Devotion to Mary)
We shall only consider external devotees. "External devotees are persons who make all devotion to our Blessed Lady consist in outward practices. They have no taste except for the exterior of this devotion, because they have no interior spirit of their own. They will say quantities of Rosaries with the greatest precipitation; they will hear many Masses distractedly; they will go without devotion to processions; they will enroll themselves in all sorts of confraternities, without amending their lives, without doing any violence to their passions, or without imitating the virtues of that most holy Virgin. They have no love but for the sensible part of devotion, without having any relish for its solidity." Today we can add they may be faithful to recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Divine Mercy Novena.
External devotees are into devotions not into devotion. Hugh of Saint Victor says: "Devotion is a ready turning of the soul towards God, by means of a tender and humble affection; humble, on account of the experience of our own frailty; tender, from the consideration of God's goodness."
"Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation: and to keep one's self unspotted from this world." [James 1:27] External devotees are pursuing devotions in the hope that they can keep their pet sins. They are spotted by the world and worldliness. "And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2)
"And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man's religion is vain." [James 1:26] How many do not bridle their tongue or today their keyboard on social media? Some of the posts from those who claim to be the most fervent traditional minded Catholics are disgusting. And it has gotten worse since the Ides of March of 2020 and the Corona Virus. The reaction to the reaction to COVID-19 is often horrible.
True devotion is aimed at helping us live a life desiring the greatest perfection as Scripture reminds us. "Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) God has provided us with devotions for this purpose. Let us remember this, when we say our next Rosary or chaplet. Let us ask for the grace of perfection, which will bring us through conversion, if necessary.
Saint Angelus foretold the stigmata of Saint Francis, and Saint Dominic said: "One day, Brother Angelus, to your Order of Carmel the Most Blessed Virgin Mary will give a devotion to be known as the Brown Scapular, and to my Order of Preachers she will give a devotion to be known as the Rosary. And one day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, she will save the world." Many rely on the Sabbatine Privilege, but have no idea what is required to obtain this privilege. Saint Alphonsus says: "To obtain the Sabbatine indulgence, chastity must be observed according to each one's state (of life), and the little office of the blessed Virgin or the canonical office recited. The office may be supplied by the fasts of the church and abstinence on Wednesday and Saturday; or if these fasts and abstinences are not possible, by some works equally painful and meritorious, as prescribed by the priest authorized to receive members."
Many wear the Scapular and say the Rosary, but half heartedly at best.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola said: "Of a hundred persons devoted to prayer, more than ninety are self-willed."
Self-will is devilish. Unfortunately for many, the Rosary has merely become a litany of words recited once a day without any devotion. "And the Lord said: Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips glorify me, but their heart is far from me, and they have feared me with the commandment and doctrines of men:" (Isaias 29:13)
A priest purchased a beautiful icon of Mary for his church. He had it erected and commanded his staff always keep flowers before it. In a sermon he told the following story, which he attributed to the holy Cure of Ars, Saint John Vianney: "A certain man jumped from a bridge and committed suicide. His widow was inconsolable. The holy Cure of Ars went to her to console her, stating that he had made an Act of Contrition at the last moment and been saved, because he had a habit of bringing flowers to a road-side statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary." Immediately after the sermon, several people were distressed by the story and looked to see if it was true. In actual fact, the man had fallen, not jumped from the bridge. He had repented as he lay dying by the river.
There is an interesting book, Waiting for the Apocalypse. The second daughter in the family wrote it. They were an early day traditional minded family in the 1970's. The mother had the habit of constantly reciting the Rosary while going through her day, while her father spent his free time in his office studying the conspiracy. And there are many families like this today. Only one of their children is a traditional minded Catholic. These parents neglected their children. They would have been far better off not worrying about the conspiracy and yes, saying only one Rosary a day fervently. They failed to spend quality time with their children and thus lost them to the Faith.
The Rosary and Scapular cannot save the world or even families, unless they are partnered with the Catholic way of life as laid out in Sacred Scripture.
Let us return to how the Rosary is misused is similar to how the Divine Mercy devotion is misused. Many are faithful to recite the chaplet at three in the afternoon, but how many are taking to heart what the devotion is truly about. They are merely rattling off words.
There are many alleged apparition sights throughout the world. There are devotees to these apparitions, and gatherings are made at certain times as dictated by the apparition. While waiting for an event, the devotees have the habit of reciting Rosary after Rosary. When the Divine Mercy chaplet became popular they decided to recite the Rosary, then the Chaplet, switching back and forth for some variety. Instead of chasing alleged apparitions, let us pursue holiness, which can be done right at home. In fact, Saint John Chrysostom calls the home a little church.
The purpose of devotion is to help us become saints, not merely to devote some time to rattling off words with no change of heart to go with them.
For many, the time of mercy will soon end, and God will judge us. And the reason is simple, we do not have true devotion, which Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us is to do whatever God commands us.
Read more! The Pope Speaks - May 2019 - Devotion to Mary