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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Going to the Chaplet

Just the other day, we had a question in the comments section (which is just where it should be) about whether or not it's okay to hold hands during the Our Father during Mass.  I haven't tackled that question here, because a couple of readers were very precise and gave good answers. And no, it's actually not okay. You can't do whatever you want during the Mass. We're not holding hands and we're not doing the wave and we're not breaking into applause during the Consecration of the Host, even if we feel like it.  No one is going to come rushing up behind you and hit you with a ruler if you happen to be holding hands with your husband or wife during the Mass. But, we have rules and we'd like you to follow them.

Until we don't.  Sometimes it's okay to make up something and go with it. Like today's question:

Long before I became Catholic I was drawn to the rosary - It somehow provided comfort when I held it, even before I learned how to pray properly. (Which as it turns out, really wasn't until very recently - although I still question if I really understand those mysteries...)

But I digress...I was wondering if you could explain about chaplets and their prayers? I'm confused as there seems to be so many different ones, some (or at least one)that are praying using the rosary itself and others that each seem to have their own 'style'. Some have 10 beads, some have 12, others 33, etc. Some have a Crucifix, others medals, and I assume some have neither...

Can you help me to understand these different tools for prayer? Is there perhaps a book or a website that includes not only prayer, but pictures of the chaplets? I'm hoping you can give me some direction - my internet searches have left me completely lost.

Thank you!

It's okay if you don't understand the Mysteries. Hence the word, "mystery".  You are to think about them while you pray the rosary and meditate on the wonder of it all.  We don't even mind so much if you pray it 'improperly' as long as you're not swinging it over your head. Improperly is better than not at all.  The more effort you put into the way it's supposed to go, the more you'll get out of it.

Chaplets, however, are a whole different issue. So let's explore the wide, wide world of chaplets.

Keep in mind that the rosary itself, and by this I meant the string of beads you are holding in your hand, is a little counting device.  So, you'll find a little object with just a few beads on it that you can just about wear as a bracelet and you can say the rosary with it.  It's little so it's called a chaplet, and it counts the rosary prayers for you.  Well, not for you....it helps you keep track.

In fact, there is also a ring you can get that serves the same purpose, although whenever I see one I also think about all the suffering you could offer up to the Poor Souls in Purgatory by actually wearing it.

I digress, too.

Then, there are a gazillion different devices, as you mentioned, with any number of beads on it, with a special devotion that goes with it, that is also called a chaplet.  Most of them, it seems to me (but I haven't actually counted) use the same set up of beads as a rosary (anyone looking at it would say it is a rosary) but instead of saying, say, a "Hail Mary" on each of the ten beads, there is another prayer entirely that you say.

It's a little confusing now, because we are now referring to both the object and the prayers that are said as a "chaplet".  But not too confusing, because we talk about the rosary the same way, the object and the prayer are called the same thing. Still with me?

The easiest way for you to have a quick overview of understanding is to go to that website you requested. Here is a good one.  The "Chaplet of Divine Mercy" is the most famous one, but as you can see the list is positively endless. That's because chaplets are what we call "'personal devotions".  Which means it's really just about you and what you would like to pray for, and how you're going to go about it.

I don't think you can do anything wrong, unless you swing it over your head or say it while holding hands during Mass.

I believe there would be no problem in you making up one of your own. Counted prayer, devoted to a specific intention.  Not rocket science.


Cammie Diane said...

Hi Sister- I've followed your blog for a couple of years (I think it was the first blog I ever followed) but this is my very first question (and it's rather long!).

The beginning of this post reminds me of the moment that makes me wince at nearly every Sunday Mass at our parish. The Our Father is sung while (almost) everyone hold hands (a few of us hold out... we have little ones in our arms which is a great excuse!).

The part that really, really bothers me, however is that they have actually changed the words to the prayer so that it is sung: "Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, father hear our prayer. And lead us not, into temptation but deliver us, deliver us, from all that is evil, hear our prayer.

Changing the words can't possibly be okay, can it? I feel like my husband and I are the only ones bothered by it. We're hoping our new pastor (third pastor in three years now) is going to say something like: "we're going to use the words Jesus taught us and that's that!" but since it hasn't happened up until this point I'm not exactly optimistic.

No one seems to want to challenge the status quo (except that apparently they did at some point and someone let it slide).

But changing the words isn't acceptable, is it?

mph said...

Here's my 2 cents which will probably irritate a lot of people. I've no idea what the official view is on this and don't claim to know everything (or anywhere near) about Catholicism or Christianity. I don't see how either holding hands or putting in "Father here our prayer" is in any way unacceptable. Fair enough, don't add or take away anything from the mass but can't common sense be used. Surely little things that can't possibly be seen as evil or deviant by anyone's standards are ok? Is there an official document anywhere that says people must stand/sit/kneel with their hands, legs and head at a certain angle during mass? If so, fair enough, but I still think it's being extremely petty. I can't help but think of all the references to Pharisees paying too much attention to little details of the law while ignoring the more important matters of religious teachings.

mph said...

p.s. not that I'm accusing anyone here of ignoring the more important messages of christianity, just think some of the points that get Catholics wound up are fairly petty. Right, I'm off to hide behind the couch now...

Cammie Diane said...

No need to hide behind the couch (at least from me! And who knows, everyone else may agree with you!).

I guess to clarify a bit, I just don't see why we would change the words at all. I mean we start with "the word Jesus taught us" (although in another language). I just don't see why we have some need to add to that. Because there's no way we can make it more perfect than the words that he taught us.

And why do we have to add "deliver US, deliver US, from all that is evil HEAR OUR PRAYER." I don't know. It just seems to turn the prayer, from the tone, into something that's about US and not a prayer to God.

But I am also glad to hear other points of view. You can all tell me if I'm totally neurotic to be bothered by this, and that's okay too. It's totally a possibility.

Anonymous said...

mph, there actually IS a document! It's called the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, or GIRM for short. And while I agree with your premise entirely, that it seems all too petty to worry about concise language and posture, when all of these are intended to draw us more deeply into the love of God and love for neighbor, here is thinking on that: If you do not have a standard, then what are the boundaries, exactly? Father Joe at St. X parish decides it's okay to say "Father, hear our prayer, hear our prayer." Not so far from the original - but then Father Larry across town starts to use a version with inclusive language. Next thing you know, Father Steve decided to substitute the prayer of the native Sufi tribe in place of the Lord's prayer, because it contains many of the same types of petitions - forgiveness, tolerance, dependence on a Great Spirit. Do you see where this is going? Someone has to decide which form of prayer should be used, and yes, whether or not the people should be standing, kneeling, or seated. As a Catholic who travels quite a bit, I've found it very comforting that I can attend a mass in any country and know when to stand, sit, or kneel, and even if I cannot read or speak the language, I basically know exactly where I am in the mass because of the uniformity in the liturgy.
So, come out from behind the couch now - we are all friends here!
Catholic School Teacher

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous (9;42 pm)

You are absolutely right! Just ask the Anglican/Episcopal Communion!

A Convert from said communion

Paige said...

I agree with Catholic school teacher! If we just start changing these things, aren't we basically no longer Catholic in a way? I mean, Luther just wanted to change a few things here and there, and then Calvin wanted to change a few more, and before you know it: BAM! a million little offshoots with no authority! The Catholic church has standards and rubrics and a Pope and a Magisterium in order to keep all these things nice and (excuse the pun) "kosher."
Now, at my church we sing the Our Father and it just drives me nuts. But we don't even change the words. Just the act of singing it bothers me. But that's just me, I guess....

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister,

Could you tell me more about the Sacred Heart of Jesus? I am aware that there is a devotion, but exactly what does that entail us doing? i.e. do we have to go to confession, say a certain prayer, go to mass on certain days etc.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

re: rosaries - I've been praying the rosary and novenas and whatnot ever since I can remember, and my son came home with a 7 decade rosary which I've never seen before. Was this a mistake or a rosary/chaplet I've never heard of? We are currently suspecting the 1st communion teacher of getting a deal on 2nds. :-)

Anonymous said...

The churches in our archdiocese ask us to join hands (if we like) during the Our Father. I don't see anything wrong with it; it's not adding anything out of line to the Mass. (We don't change the words.) When I close my eyes to say the prayer, I know I'm holding hands with my family, and I envision the family and friends who aren't with me at that moment holding hands and praying with us, too.

Sometimes we'll try singing the Our Father, but the tune our choir uses isn't that great. I heard one good choral version of the Our Father sung at a parish several years ago, but most of the time it doesn't quite work.

mph said...

Thanks for all those responses, it's interesting to know there is a document - should have guessed! I do see all your points but still think common sense could be used. I don't know what all the differences are between Catholics and other Christian churches but imagine they're a bit more than whether hands are held during the "Our Father". I do see it's easier to make rigid rules and have no confusion between one person's version of common sense and another's. But I still think we shouldn't place too much importance on it or let it bother us when it's something as minor as holding hands. I can't see it bothering Jesus but could be wrong.

Cammie Diane said...

It's probably a seven sorrows of Mary chaplet. If it has seven beads in seven sets instead of five sets of ten. If you google it you'll see lots on the devotion. I made one for a friend not too long ago. There's so many different chaplets! Since I make them for my little shop I've been trying to learn about one each week and there really are a lot!

cathmom5 said...

The problem mph is where does it stop? It is not petty when one sees week after week the reverence of Mass eroding into trivality. Talking during the silence of the Church before and after Mass trivializes the space and makes it difficult for people who wish to pray. Wearing flip-flops and shorts to Church trivializes Mass and turns it into a tourist activity. Holding hands makes Mass trivial.

Sister, one of my other pet peeves (besides the cum bya of holding hands during the Lord's prayer) is when the parishioners break out into applause for the choir--at least they normally wait until after the recessional (I hope that is the right word). The choir rarely sings at the early Mass my family and I attend except on special occassions. So, I guess it is just "too special" not to acknowlege with clapping?? Isn't the Mass--meeting the Lord in His Word and receiving Him in the Eucharist enough for people? They've already erroneously turned the altars all different ways. Our tabernacle is in the back rear of our sanctuary behind glass. It is like seating the banquest's guest of honor in the kitchen. Thank God our current pastor started a campaign to raise money to build a new home for the tabernacle front and center in the sanctuary. (Praise God our parish is also debt-free!)

One of my main goals as a Catechist is to make sure that I instill in my students reverence for Christ's presence in the Mass. One of the most important things they need to know is God's love for them and His coming to them in a very real, tangible way in the Mass. God loved them so much He suffered and died for them--He deserves our love, reverence, and devotion. They cumbyas and hand holding should be reserved for summer camp, youth group, and Kindergarten class.

Sorry, I'm babbling. My two cents. God bless you sister.

Anonymous said...

Recently read the book "Our Lady of Kibeho" by Immaculee Ilibagiza (fully approved by the Catholic Church. Our Lady asked that the rosary of the seven sorrows be prayed daily. I don't have time to add a whole rosary but I say five hail Mary's in honor of them. (Simeon's prophocy, The flight into Egypt, The Loss of Jesus in the temple, Mary Meets Jesus on the way to Calvary, Mary stands at the foot of the Cross, Mary receives the dead body of Jesus in her arms, Jesus is placed in the tomb).

God bless you,

Nan said...

There's a book on different chaplets. My Treasury of Cheplets.