I have known for some time that some traditionalists reject the Luminous Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, but I didn’t realize that some of them also reject the Divine Mercy devotion. Their reasons for rejecting the Divine Mercy devotion are laid out in this long article by Msgr. Patrick Perez, and it is posted on the Tradition in Action website. About TIA:
Tradition In Action is committed to defend the perennial Magisterium of Holy Mother Church and Catholic traditions. TIA also works for a restoration of Christian civilization, adapted to contemporary historical circumstances.
The TIA logo pictures the statue of the Emperor Charlemagne with his knights Roland and Olivier. This bronze monument stands in the front square of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Msgr. Perez says about the Divine Mercy image
I have analyzed the prayers of the Divine Mercy devotion and found nothing wrong with them. But there is something wrong with what surrounds this new devotion…Now, you have all seen this image, even if in passing, and you would know and recognize it. It shows a strange picture of Jesus that makes me uneasy. I cannot really tell you why. I do not like it. I don’t like the face, I don’t like the gesture, I don’t like the posture, I don’t like anything. This was my first impression of this image. I don’t want it around because it is, for lack of a better term, creepy to me when I look at it.
The Divine Mercy devotion was banned by Popes Pius XII and John XXIII because there seemed to be questionable, strange and ambiguous parts of St Faustina’s writings. An explanation of the problem and pros and cons both ways are laid out at this website. Diane K at Te Deum Laudamus gives this personal witness of what happened.
A polish uncle of mine (born and raised in U.S.) shared an interesting piece of history with me one day, concerning the Divine Mercy. He’s now in his 80′s and is a very devout Catholic (goes to daily Mass, very Marian, Eucharistic). He followed the case of Sr. Faustina and the Divine Mercy before the ban in 1959 (it began spreading in 1942). He explained that there were printing houses, even outside of Poland to spread the devotion. When those involved with the printing learned the Holy See suppressed devotion, they quietly closed up shop, and went back about their business. He said there was humble submission by followers, accepting the decision, without complaint. Six years later, then Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, began an “informative process.” It was discovered that faulty, and suspect, translations had gone to the Vatican. After appropriate translations were studied, the ban was eventually lifted in April of 1978 (and in October of 1978, Archbishop Wojtyla becomes Pope John Paul II).
Meanwhile the ever vigilant folks at Novus Ordo Watch explains here why the Divine Mercy devotion is to be rejected.
Curious as to why some traditionalists feel obliged to reject a devotion that has had approval and support from the highest level, I then began to try to understand why the luminous mysteries are also rejected. The writer of this blog post suggests that we “dump” the luminous mysteries, while the Remnant newspaper here outline the serious objections to the luminous mysteries. It is because the added mysteries give the rosary the wrong number of prayers.
the “new” Rosary of John Paul II, which added five “luminous” mysteries, and thus 50 more Aves, to the traditional Rosary. That makes a total of 200 Aves, which would destroy the Rosary’s ancient correspondence to the 150 Psalms of the Psalter; the Rosary would no longer be “the Psaltery of Our Lady.” Then, of course, the “new” Rosary would no be longer triune, but rather would have four parts involving 50 Aves each: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and “Luminous.”
The 150 Hail Marys echoes the 150 psalms while the three sets of mysteries echo the Trinity. Adding the Luminous Mysteries might help take the faithful into a deeper meditation of the Baptism of the Lord, the wedding in Cana, the preaching of the Kingdom, the Transfiguration and the Establishment of the Eucharist, but that experience must be secondary to the important numerical symbolism?
The article from the Remnant then goes on to quote Pope Paul VI who opposed any innovation to the Rosary.
Maybe I don’t understand fully, but the traditionalists rejecting the Divine Mercy devotion point out that John XXIII banned it, and those arguing against an innovation in the rosary point out the Pope Paul VI was against any change in the rosary.
But I gathered that, according to these same traditionalists John XXIII and Paul VI were modernist, anti-popes who weren’t to be trusted.
Is this a case of some traditionalists being a bit cafeteria-like in choosing which papal statements are okay and which are not?
In fact both of these devotions–the Holy Rosary and the Divine Mercy–are optional for Catholics. Traditionalists are perfectly within their rights to not pray the luminous mysteries if they don’t want to. The pope said he was simply suggesting the new set of mysteries for those who wanted to adopt them. Likewise, the Divine Mercy chaplet is offered by the church for those who are drawn to it.
A guiding thought that eventually brought me into the Catholic church was the dictum, “A man is most often right in what he affirms and wrong in what he denies.”
In this spirit, surely the Catholic way forward–rather than being negative and critical– is to affirm all that is good about these devotions and allow individuals and communities to use them as they see fit.