I spoke at the Mercy Sunday Prayer Service which the West Allis, WI parish, Mary Queen of Heaven, held this afternoon. I basically recycled the talk that I gave last year at Marytown, but in giving it this year I was struck by the close connection between Divine Mercy devotion and the spirituality of the Apostleship of Prayer. Both are Eucharistic.
When we participate in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ by offering him to the Father. As members of the Body of Christ, we are united to this offering and so we offer ourselves with Jesus to the Father. Then, as we leave Mass and go out into the world, we live the offering we have made. This is what St. Paul means in Romans 12:1 when he writes: "I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship." In the Eucharistic spirituality of the Apostleship of Prayer we renew that offering every morning as we begin the day, try to consciously live that offering throughout the day, and then, in the evening, examine the day which we have just offered to God.
The prayers of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy are also a way that we live a Eucharistic life by making an offering of ourselves with Jesus. At the beginning of each decade of the Chaplet we pray: "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." With these words our hearts are united with the Mass which is being celebrated somewhere in the world at any given moment. We are renewing the offering of ourselves with Jesus that we make at every Mass. And with the prayer that follows, we remember, as we do at Mass, the suffering and death of Jesus by which the world is saved: "For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."
This is far from an individualistic devotion or spirituality. Eucharistic spirituality, by joining us in a deeper way to Christ, focuses our attention outside ourselves to a world desperately in need of mercy. We pray for ourselves because we are sinners in need of mercy, but we pray as well for the entire world for which Jesus suffered, died, and rose. Divine Mercy devotions are not in competition with the Eucharist or with Sacred Heart devotions. They are another and very beautiful way in which we can make an offering of ourselves with Jesus for this intention: that every person may come to know the love of God revealed in Jesus, accept his mercy, and be saved.