I recently decided that I would start saving souls—a little late, perhaps, after over 25 years in a monastery, but better late than never! Of course, it is not I myself who save the souls, but I’m working more closely with Him who does. You can, too, and it’s not even very hard to do; it just requires some faith, fervor, and a bit of self-discipline.
I got the idea from something that Jesus told St Faustina. (Now I’m not going to go into the whole business of discernment of private revelations here. Suffice it to say that if she is a canonized saint and her writings have received the imprimatur, what she says is worthy of belief, even though this is not on the same level as Scripture and Tradition.) At a certain moment He said this: “Pray as much as you can for the dying… Be assured that the grace of eternal salvation for certain souls in their final moment depends upon your prayer…(Diary, #1777).
Now that is both encouraging and demanding. As members of the Body of Christ we are required to pray for each other, for this is an important means of bringing God’s grace to souls. The hour of death is the most critical time in anyone’s life, especially if they are in any way estranged from God. They need help now—and the only thing that will save them is the grace of God, which draws them to repentance, faith, and trust in Him. He is saying that He expects us to pray for that grace for the dying.
But how do we do it? Well, the Lord gave St Faustina a special prayer to be used for this purpose. It is called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (get more information as well as instructions on how to pray it by clicking here). Here’s one thing the Lord said about it: “Whoever will recite [the chaplet] will receive great mercy at the hour of death… Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy…” (#687).
That’s good news, but what if the poor slouch is unable to say it himself, for whatever reason? Not to worry: “At the hour of their death, I defend as My own glory every soul that will say this chaplet; or when others say it for a dying person, the pardon is the same… (#811). This is where you and I come in, where we pray for ailing members of the Body to be granted grace and mercy unto salvation.
After reading those passages, I said to my soul: “Soul, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to start rescuing other souls from the jaws of Hell!” So what I do is this: around 3:00 PM every day (this is the “hour of mercy” since it is the hour of Jesus’ death on the Cross), I pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Not for just any soul, however, but for whatever soul is in most danger of going to Hell—someone who is about to die in mortal sin—that this soul may be granted, by the mercy of the Lord, the grace of final repentance unto salvation. And I trust that Jesus is doing just that. We don’t know exactly how all this works, but if this prayer is enough to tip the scales, as it were, in favor of the dying sinner, to open their hearts just enough to say “yes” to Jesus as they are leaving this world, then it’s all worth it.
Let us not think, however, that this is some sort of automatic or magical shortcut for saving souls. It is based on the power of prayer with faith and on Jesus’ everlasting love and infinite mercy. “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (James 5:16). To pray this chaplet is to help open the door for a sinner to repent at the last minute, like the Good Thief. Let us be instrumental in winning the grace of final repentance for sinners. “Whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
So, what are you waiting for? Hundreds of thousands of people die every day, and we can assume that many of them do not believe in Christ, and others who say they do may be in a state of unrepented sin. We can help at least some of them get to Heaven. What a great and glorious work this is! Imagine, at the end of your life, when, having been saved by the same grace and mercy of the Lord, you are greeted in Heaven by numerous souls, all thanking you because the Lord had mercy on them and saved them because of your prayers at the hour of their death! What a marvelously rewarding blessing to enjoy for all eternity!
I don’t think it matters that much if you can’t pray the prayer right at 3:00. Do it whenever you can; just do it! I’ve known about this chaplet for years, but only recently did I read those texts that made it all come together, making it clear that I can have a direct influence on the salvation of another’s soul by means of this prayer. So let’s start harvesting souls for God’s Kingdom. He has given us a simple means for co-operating with his grace in this all-important work. Nothing is more important in God’s eyes than the salvation of the souls He created, the souls with whom He desires to share his Heaven. It’s high time we were about our Father’s business. Pray the chaplet every day!
(To obtain free flyers with the above information [arranged in somewhat different fashion], please write to Father Joseph, Contemplatives of St Joseph, 377 Willow Ave, South San Francisco, CA, 94080-1446, or e-mail your request to savesouls2day(at)gmail(dot)com.)
I recently received a little testimony from a friend of mine who is devoted to the Divine Mercy. She read my post “Save a Soul Today!” and responded with a beautiful example from her own experience in this regard. If you’ve already forgotten about it, go back and read it again, and start praying the chaplet for the dying—the Lord will save them! This is a great contribution we can make to the salvation of souls, and it’s not difficult, either. Here’s the story:
“When I first learned the chaplet, a woman at St. Benedict’s after the 5:30pm Mass one day asked me to go pray for her next-door neighbor, who was in a coma, dying in the hospital, and had never even been baptized. She said he was a good man, but didn’t believe in God, and she was worried for his soul. I told her I felt kind of funny going to the hospital room of someone I didn’t know—what if the nurse thought I was doing something weird, or the family was there and didn’t like it? She just said to think about it, and if I wanted to go, it was such and such a hospital and room number.
“Well, I decided to go, for Jesus, and right away, even before dinner, so He would be inside me and could direct my ways more easily. When I got there, the nurses were all at the other end of the hall doing something together, and the room was dark except for the light over his bed, where he was sleeping (in a coma). So I didn’t go in, but just knelt down in the doorway and began praying the chaplet. As soon as I did, the tears started flowing down my face in profusion! I wondered, ‘What is going on? Do I perhaps know this guy but not his name?’ So I kept praying the chaplet, but at the end decided to tiptoe in and just have a look at his face. Well, he was a stranger, but the amazing thing is that tears were flowing down his face, too!
“I hadn’t been home 15 minutes before that lady at church called me and said not to bother to go, because the man had just died! So, I am a true believer in the words Jesus told St. Faustina—she said [that the Lord told her] if you prayed the chaplet at the bedside of someone who was dying He would no longer be their just judge but only their merciful savior! And when [St Faustina] prayed it at the bedside of someone who was dying she could see the demons flee screaming, with their hands over their ears, as God’s mercy enveloped the dying person. I love the way Jesus works!”
So do I!