As many people remain in their homes to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be easy to let spiritual and corporal works of mercy outside our domestic walls fall by the wayside. Maria Cecilia Escobedo, creator of the site No One Dies Alone, has different plans.
Escobedo has long had a devotion to St. Faustina. The words of the Diary of St. Faustina took on particular significance for her in the 2016, the Year of Mercy, during which Escobedo not only gave birth to her rainbow baby and youngest daughter, Regina, but was also introduced to 33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy by Fr. Michael Gaitley.
On the last Friday of the Year of Mercy, Escobedo and her children barely made it to a local Holy Door, in order to obtain a plenary indulgence. When they passed through at 3 p.m., the Hour of Mercy, Escobedo says, “I felt this profound feeling of God’s mercy penetrating my heart and the sense God was calling me to bring this message of mercy to the world in my own unique way. . . . I didn’t how I was going to spread this message but I knew that day as I stood in the church of Divine Mercy at the Hour of Mercy that I was called to something.”
Escobedo has answered the call to different projects in this vein, including the Merciful Love Challenge and Catholic Fit Moms for Life. She also sells prints of quotes from St. Faustina at her shop, Prints of Mercy, from which she donates at least 20% of her profits to the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
This year, Escobedo’s daughter Regina’s birthday marked another powerful moment in Escebedo’s life: her diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi announced there would be no public Holy Mass for a whole month, due to COVID-19.
In what she describes as “a darkness that I didn’t see coming,” Escobedo turned again to the Diary of St. Faustina. That evening, she read from #858, “My daughter, have patience; it won’t be long now.” With a renewed sense of peace, she continued reading how “the message of Divine Mercy can bring one hope, strength, and courage in the midst of darkness.”
That same night, she came across a video from the parish St. Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny Co. Donegal, Ireland, in which Rev. Philip Kemmy, CC expresses his profound sadness about how many people are dying alone with no one to hold their hands—and even worse, without the Last Rites. Fr. Philip encourages viewers to spiritually adopt dying souls and be spiritually present at their bedsides at the hour of death by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
After a restless night, Escebedo knew she had to do something more for those souls. Though Fr. Philip had said there was no need to sign up for anything, Escebdeo says, “I know the power of social media can do and I know that humans like to sign up for things. They feel empowered that they can physically sign up to make a promise.”
Echoing Fr. Philip’s conviction, she says, “Every person deserves to have a chance to accept the mercy of God through the power of Divine Mercy Chaplet at the hour of their greatest need.”
As she constructed the site, she prayed for St. Faustina’s guidance and blessing and sought out Fr. Philip to get his blessing as well.
In his response, he told Escebedo, “I wish you well and I ask that the Lord in his abundant mercy will keep you and all your family in the safe refuge of the Blood and Water which flows from his Pierced Heart. May Our Blessed Lady, Our Mother and Our Queen, keep you wrapped securely in her mantle of protection.”
Escebedo hopes that through this movement, “everyone [will see] the beauty and power of praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. That everyone will seek it not just for themselves but for others, especially the dying.”
To join the movement, you can visit No One Dies Alone and sign up to promise to say one Chaplet of the Divine Mercy a day. Escebedo offers this encouragement, “It doesn’t take more than 10 minutes a day, but it has the effect of eternity through the power of Jesus Christ for a dying soul.”
You can even choose to livestream the chaplet every morning at 6 a.m. CT, with a view of The Star of Immaculate, an adoration chapel at the Center of Prayer for Peace in Niepokalanów, Poland.In addition, all are invited to leave the names of their dying loved ones on the movement’s Facebook page, so they can be prayed for by name.
Escebedo’s goal is to reach 20,000,000,000 chaplets prayed for the dying this year. “Yes, that is a big order,” she says, “but God’s mercy is endless!”
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