Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless Mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You, O God; Show them Your Mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, Who said to them during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless Mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.
Following is the formula for the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, prayed on the regular beads of the Rosary. It is most appropriate to pray it at 3 o'clock in the afternoon which is the "Hour of Great Mercy" as Jesus said to Blessed Faustina: 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 virtue of My Passion. (1320).
On each decade of the small beads, pray the following:
For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
At the end of the Chaplet recite three times the following prayer:
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Then conclude with the following prayer said three times also:
O Blood and Water which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as Font of Mercy for us, I trust in You!
It is recommended to offer each decade to the wounds of Christ, such as the first decade in reparation for the wound in HIs Right Hand; the second decade in reparation for the wound in His Left Hand, the third decade in reparation for the wounds in His Sacred Feet; the fourth decade in reparation for the wounds in His Head in which the Crown of Thorns crushed His Sacred Skull; and the fifth decade in reparation for the wound in His side in which Blood and Water gushed forth as a Font of Mercy for all generations.
The Novena to Divine Mercy, which Jesus asked Blessed Faustina to begin on Good Friday, 1937 is for nine days from Good Friday to Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter) which is the Feast of Divine Mercy. Jesus told her, By this Novena [of Chaplets and particular intention each day] I will grant every possible grace to souls. (796).
This is what all of My children must do: Trust Me, their God, even unto folly. For what proof of faith is given when man relies only upon those things of the world upon which rests man's guarantee. Wherein does faith come when security is placed only on finite, temporal things?
I, your God, call you into My embrace. I desire to place you in My Sacred Heart where I may comfort you. But you will not hear My plea, nor feel this comfort unless you become as a little child who delights in its wretchedness and rejoices at My Glory.
I, Who Am, call you to return to Me. I call you to great faith, sublime love and trust without question.
Am I not God? Will you lack full trust in Me? I love and bless all of My children, for My Mercy is yours if your heart is little and contrite.
Pray and heed My Words. The Hour of Mercy will come, but after must come the Father's Justice. Be one with Me in My Passion and fear nothing. I solemnly tell you I shall come, the whole of creation shall be renewed. Pray and keep watch, for the moment shall come more swiftly than any mind can comprehend!
Please say to all of My children: Behold, I come. I come to claim My Kingdom, which I shall present to the Father. But before this moment you must face many trials. The persecutions of those whose hearts are converted will be powerful; but I solemnly tell you it will be little compared to the inner conflict of all who doubt, who look for rational human answers to the Divine Will. These souls shall suffer, and like a beast tearing flesh, the dilemma of indecision, of constant questioning , will only be fuel for satan's traps.
O! How I love all of My children and desire their eternal happiness. That is why, through My hidden one, I speak of My Divine Mercy, and desire the world to come and drink from the Font of Mercy.
O! How My Heart is comforted by the souls who trust in Me, who call upon My Mercy. Let every heart believe and be attentive to My Word, for all is written in Sacred Scripture. I love and bless you. I come! O! I eagerly await your trust!
"To continue the violence of recent days would represent a grave obstacle to the search for a negotiated peace," the Vatican said in a statement released April 6, shortly after the announcement from Belgrade. The statement indicated that the Yugoslavian initiative could be "an important step toward peace," but recognized that any progress would depend upon "a welcoming attitude on the part of all the parties involved."
The Vatican Secretariat of State indicated that it would continue to watch developments with "great anxiety." The official statement stressed that any continuation of warfare-- either bombing by NATO forces or military operations inside Kosovo by Serbian troops-- would inevitably be destructive to the cause of peace.
Meanwhile the Pope met Wednesday with Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to discuss the "humanitarian catastrophe" caused by the flood of refugees from Kosovo.
After the meeting-- which took place at the Vatican after the Pope's regular public audience-- the Vatican indicated that the Holy Father had expressed his appreciation for the efforts undertaken by 56 nations to ease the suffering of the refugees. He also assured the UN official that Catholic welfare organizations would do their best to cooperate in these efforts.
While welcoming the news that a number of countries will provide temporary refugee for the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from Kosovo, the Holy See has insisted that the ultimate goal of any international effort must be to ensure that these families will eventually be able to return to their homes. At a recent Geneva meeting convened by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Vatican representatives also called on all international organizations to support diplomatic efforts to establish a "humanitarian corridor" allowing the free delivery of relief supplies to Kosovo.
After meeting with the Pope, Ogata also spoke briefly with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
Spokesman Mario Marazziti said Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia was scheduled to meet with Yugoslav authorities, but did not know whether President Slobodan Milosevic would attend. "His trip has two objectives. The first is the humanitarian issue, the setting up of a humanitarian corridor, which is dear to the Community," Marazziti said. Pope John Paul has suggested that Yugoslavia set up a humanitarian corridor to help hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanian Kosovars who have been fleeing persecution.
"The second is to intensify ecumenical relationships with the Orthodox Patriarch (Pavle) of Belgrade," Marazziti added. "For Sant'Egidio, peace is necessary immediately, a peace which helps to alleviate the wounds of the people. Every minute that passes is a minute lost." In 1997, Monsignor Paglia negotiated an agreement between Milosevic and ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova to reopen Albanian language schools in Kosovo.
It was reported yesterday that Catholics in Kosovo may be escaping the most brutal treatment by Serbian military forces, according to the Vatican news agency Fides.
Catholics in Kosovo are a small minority within a minority; most of the people of Kosovo are Albanian Muslims, and the Christian minority there is primarily Orthodox. The Catholic population has always held a delicate position during the recent years of conflict between Serbs and Kosovars, Fides points out, explaining: " if they work for respect for human rights they risk being accused by the Serbs of collusion with terrorism; if they try to dialogue with the Serbs, the Muslim Albanian majority-- with which they are on very good terms-- could accuse them of 'collaborating' with the Serb authorities."
Fides was unable to contact Bishop Marko Sopi, an auxiliary in the Diocese of Skopje, Macedonia, who exercises pastoral responsibility for the Albanian Catholics in Kosovo. But the Byzantine-rite Bishop Joakim Herbut-- also of Skopje-- reported that Latin-rite Catholics in Kosovo had been able to celebrate Easter freely. Bishop Herbut said that he had met a number Catholics who had left Kosovo to escape the fighting, but their homes had not been destroyed nor had they been personally mistreated or threatened by Serbian forces.
Among them, the president of the Portugal Bishop's Conference and bishop of Coimbra, Dom Joćo Alves, recalled that "Jesus Christ has showed us with all certainty the way of our full realization, in solidarity, fraternity and complete respect of the dignity of our fellow brethren, radically the same in all". Also, against the military participation of Portugal in the war, he insisted asking God for peace for "the peoples decimated by war".
On the other hand, Bishop Dom Armindo Lopes Coelho of Porto, urged all the countries involved in the war to "have the courage to make a cease-fire in order to celebrate Easter, possible in the Getsemani of their sufferings and the Calvary of the respective immolation". The prelate also recalled that the Church cannot silence the "message of peace in the joy of the risen Christ", especially in the horizon of reconciliation in the commemoration of two thousand years of Christianity.
Echoing the words of reconciliation pronounced in numerous occasions by Pope John Paul II, the US cardinals wrote last week letters to President Clinton and to Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic in a further attempt to find a solution to the crisis. "There is always time for peace. It is never late to reencounter and negotiate," said the letters, asking for the ceasing of hostilities and a return to pacific negotiations.
"Nothing justifies the reign of terror visited upon the Albanian population," recently said Cardinal Bernard Law during an Easter Mass homily celebrated in Boston. The Cardinal said as well that his archdiocese is "ready to help," if necessary, to resettle Albanian people from Kosovo. "It is never too late to work for peace; it is never too late to negotiate", affirmed the Archbishop of Boston.
Carlos Antonio Macedo, a 42-year-old shop owner from the northern state of Pernambuco, threw a stone against the image at the famous Marian shrine of Aparecida, but the rock did not penetrate the bullet-proof protective glass. Although the attempt took place very early in the morning -- at 6:15 local time -- several pilgrims caught Macedo and turned him in to the police.
Police sources said Macedo is a member of the Assemblies of God and claims to be "proud" of what he did because "it is consistent with what the Bible teaches." Macedo has been charged with vandalism and attempting religious offense.
This is the fourth attempt in this century against the image. In 1906, a thief broke the glass to steal a gold collar, in 1978, a Protestant broke the image in two, motivating the installation of the bullet-proof glass. In 1995, a leader of the fundamentalist "Universal Church of God's Kingdom," kicked and destroyed a replica of the image during a television show aired on October 12, day of the feast of Aparecida.