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Friday, October 21, 2011

Strategies for Prayer -- sixth in a series (Chaplet)

Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11:1).

Another of my prayer strategies – one that has quickly become my favorite – is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The prayer uses the traditional Rosary beads, but the pattern of prayer is quite different. (For readers unfamiliar with the Rosary, these links here and here will help explain its history and use).

The Chaplet starts with the “Our Father,” moves to the “Hail Mary,”* and then to the Apostle’s Creed. Here the Chaplet departs substantially from the Rosary. Follow this link to the Chaplet beads.

The prayer on the bead that separates each series of ten beads begins with: “Eternal Father, I offer You to body and blood, soul and divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.” On each of the ten traditional “Hail Mary” beads, petitioners pray: “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” Finally, at the end of the five ‘decades” (series of ten beads), the following is prayed three times: “Holy God, Holy, Mighty One, Holy and Immortal One, have mercy on us.”

The Chaplet can be prayed with our without music, but I use the musical rendition because the combination of the words and melody tugs at my emotions. For an example of the Chaplet set to music, Click here (this is Donna Cori Gibson’s YouTube version of the Chaplet. Start part one of the video at around 2:15. You can find part two here. I do not watch the video during my prayer time because it would distract me. Instead, I downloaded Gibson’s song from iTunes).

Although the music readily engages me, my personality is such that continual repetition becomes monotonous. Consequently, my mind drifts after the third or fourth “For the sake of His sorrowful passion . . ..”  I also have difficulty wrapping my mind around “ . . .  and on the whole world.”  The concept is too vast for me to not only pray with passion, but with purpose. Therefore, I modify the prayer this way:

Bead 1: For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on Nancy (my wife), and on our whole family.
Bead 2: For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on Kerry (our daughter), and on our whole family. 
Bead 3: For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on Zion (our eldest son), and on our whole family.
Bead 4:  For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on Nathan (our youngest son), and on our whole family.
Beads 5-10: I call the names of other family members on my side of the family.

On the second series of beads I call the names of those on Nancy’s side of the family. On series three through five, I call the names of my students, friends, members of our parish, and so forth. Praying for individuals in my personal ‘world’ helps me pray with passion and purpose because I know and care about the people for whom I’m praying. I like being able to put faces with names.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy includes elements of several strategies I often use in my private morning time with my Lord: lists, music, and scripted prayers. And best of all, it's all about Jesus. From beginning to end, it's focus is on my Lord, Saviour and Friend.

I enjoy this strategy so much that it has become my most used method of prayer during my evening time with the Lord. I encourage readers to try this method. You don’t need Rosary beads to pray the chaplet. You can just as easily use your ten fingers.

 * For those unfamiliar with the Hail Mary, Catholics say: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. (Readers might recognize two portions of Scripture in the Hail Mary – Luke 1:28 and 1:42).

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