Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 10, 2006
Say a little prayer at 3 p.m.
Evangelist proclaims the prayerful power of the '3 o' clock habit'
"God is merciful 24 hours a day, but he wants to give us a special grace at 3 o'clock - the hour he died for us."
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Mercy is love in action and for Christians it should be a way of life, says Brother Don De Castro, a lay evangelist from the Philippines.
"Mercy is about loving as God did. It's about forgiving and loving those who do not deserve to be loved."
De Castro, founder of the Divine Mercy Say a Little Prayer Movement, spoke about Divine Mercy to about 150 people, mostly Filipinos, at St. Theresa Parish Hall April 1-2.
"We are created in God's image and so when we stop being merciful, we offend God."
De Castro, a 48-year-old former radio broadcaster educated in a Jesuit school, founded the Divine Mercy Movement in Manila in 1985 to ask God to free the people from the oppression of the dictatorship of the late Ferdinand Marcos.
"(At the time) we were told what to say and not to say during martial law," the evangelist and father of six recalled in an interview.
"So I asked the Lord, 'How can we have freedom?' Then I read the Divine Mercy booklet of St. Faustina and the Lord said at 3 o'clock, pause, think of my passion, pray for sinners and whatever you ask through my passion I will not refuse your request."
He travelled to 48 cities and asked radio and TV stations to air the 3 o'clock prayer. They did and Marcos fell that same year - 1985.
"Actually it was our prayers asking for God's mercy that brought us a peaceful revolution because the whole country was asking for God's mercy at 3 o'clock. We didn't have a civil war."
Most radios and TV stations still daily air the prayer, called the 3 o'clock habit, in the Philippines. Some newspapers print the prayer. Malls and schools air it on the PA systems.
"God is merciful 24 hours a day, but he wants to give us a special grace at 3 o'clock - the hour he died for us," De Castro explained. "He said, 'Faustina, if possible at 3 o'clock visit the Blessed Sacrament; if possible make the Stations of the Cross; if you cannot do this, at least pause for a while.' It's okay with him. Three o'clock is the hour of grace, the hour of great mercy."
De Castro has travelled halfway around the world bringing this message. Parishioners Nina Obleada, Gem Mella and Lucy Yee were part of the team that organized the symposium on behalf of St. Theresa Parish.
"I'm asking people to be merciful like God because we are created in his image and we are supposed to be merciful," De Castro said. "Jesus said be merciful as the Father in heaven is merciful."
The Divine Mercy Say a Little Prayer Movement has no structured membership, although most parishes in the Philippines have Divine Mercy groups. "All those who pray at three o'clock are members," De Castro said with a laugh. "We do not form chapters, although we encourage people to form their own group and to work with the parish priest. We are a movement giving information on Divine Mercy."
Love in action
"Mercy is love in action; it is compassion," he told those attending the symposium. "When we show mercy to those who hurt us, "we are doing what God is expecting of us, " De Castro said. "Jesus said in Scripture, 'If you say you love me but you hate your neighbour, you are a liar.' It's in Scripture. Do not hate."
The war and chaos so prevalent in the world today are the result of a lack of mercy, according to the evangelist. "We have forgotten to be merciful. It's an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth out there. You hurt me; I'll hurt you; that's what is happening now. And so mercy is really playing an important role today."