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.
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.