The Herrera family prays the Divine Mercy Chaplet inside their north Phoenix home April 3. From left is Rene, Claudia Renee, Maximus and Claudia. (Jeff Grant/CATHOLIC SUN)

While the continuing coronavirus pandemic has forced the public to spend much of its time at home, it has afforded numerous opportunities to deepen one’s faith through prayer, meditation, Bible readings and other activities.

For Rene Herrera, this period has launched what he hopes will become a lifelong devotion by his children to praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. While Herrera, wife Claudia and their two children pray the Chaplet and the Rosary regularly, the he is among the millions of Americans whose offices are closed to discourage the spread of COVID-19 with no definite return date set.

It is a limit transformed into a time to deepen his and his family’s faith.

“I do Divine Mercy every morning prior to going to work,” explained Herrera, who is also a musician at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glendale. “Now, we have time here at the house. It has strengthened us even more. We’re taking advantage to have prayer as a focal point, taking the time I wouldn’t at work to pray.”

Claudia Renee Herrera, 9, and her brother, Maximus, 10, pray the Divine Mercy chaplet inside their north Phoenix home April 3. (Jeff Grant/CATHOLIC SUN)

But the activity is more than prayer.

Herrera, Claudia, son, Maximus, 10, and daughter, Claudia Renee, 9, gather in their north Phoenix living room at 3:15 p.m. — during the Hour of Divine Mercy.

The 3 o’clock holy hour is considered important, because, as noted on the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary website, it is the hour that recalls Jesus’ death on the cross and the hour that God, in His revelations to St. Faustina, asked for a special prayer and meditation on His Passion each afternoon.

“… Immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul,” the website states.

On April 3, the Herreras each took out a Rosary and knelt around a large coffee table. The children began by offering intentions for an end to the global pandemic and for healing and comfort for those suffering or with ill family or friends. Each family member then took turns praying, including reciting the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary (prescribed for Fridays), concluding with the “Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel,” the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

“I like doing this. (I know) God hears me,” smiled Maximus afterward.

Rene Herrera prays the Divine Mercy chaplet inside his north Phoenix home April 3. Herrera and his family have been praying the Chaplet daily during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Jeff Grant/CATHOLIC SUN)

While the family regularly prays at night, Rene said their gatherings for Divine Mercy have become more consistent since government orders confined the public to remaining at home except for essential activities. That, he said, has strengthened his faith.

“I would pray Rosary going to or from work. Now, with the family, it is taking it to the next level. That helps us grow together. It’s a pretty awesome feeling.”

The prayer time has also helped offset limits on other faith activities.

Claudia and her fellow women’s prayer group members cannot meet. She is also part of a group that prays weekly outside a Glendale abortion center that has had to cancel those in-person gatherings.

Rene also looks forward to returning to his musical duties at OLPH, where he plays the vihuela, an early Spanish stringed musical instrument like a guitar, and where he and other family members have supplied the music for the Spanish Masses for more than 20 years. His father, Roman Herrera, Sr., plays accordion, his mother, Jesusita, sings, his sister, Linda, plays bass and sings, his brother, Roman, Jr., plays guitar and his uncle, Jacinto plays guitar.”

But, praying at home at 3 p.m. with immediate family has been an example of God’s providence working in their favor, he added.

“It is the most powerful time to pray. And prayer is powerful.”