More on the Chaplet: Can We Change it?

More questions about the Chaplet keep rolling in! Ms. Goryl asked if it is all right to alter the Chaplet in public recitation. In her diocese they sometimes combine the Chaplet with Rosary meditations.

Ms. Goryl, we in Stockbridge tend to agree with you and your parish priest on this matter: it is better, at least in public recitation of the Chaplet, to stick with the form that Jesus gave to St. Faustina in the prophetic revelations recorded in her Diary (see entries 474-76). People are often tempted to try to make the Chaplet more "interesting," or more "imaginative" by adding to it favorite prayers and mediations of their own choosing, such as the Rosary. To mix the Chaplet with the Rosary meditations is not heretical, of course, but it does seem to me to involve a misunderstanding of the nature of the Chaplet. The Chaplet is not intended to be primarily a prayer of meditation on the mysteries of the faith, "sorrowful" mysteries or otherwise - in this it has a different focus than the Rosary. Rather, the Chaplet was clearly meant to be primarily a prayer of intercession for an outpouring of God's mercy upon the whole world. Thus, if one is going to alter the public form of the Chaplet, it would be better to start each decade of the Chaplet with a prayer intention - intercessions for particular needs of the Church and the world - or to use the Chaplet with St. Faustina's Novena intentions, found in her Diary, entries 1209-29. That would be more in keeping with the spirit and intention of the Chaplet than mixing it with Rosary meditations. Perhaps, on a special occasion - say, on Good Friday - it might be helpful to mix the Chaplet with the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary (or, even better, to use the meditations on the Five Wounds of Christ intended for use with the Chaplet, and published by the Marians). And of course, in private, now and then, it can be helpful to use meditations with the Chaplet. But as the regular, public, communal manner of saying the Chaplet - or even the regular manner of doing so in private? Again, I think that is highly inadvisable, and it would show some disrespect for the form in which our Lord evidently wanted the Chaplet usually to be recited. He must have known what he was doing when He gave that form to St. Faustina! On this we need to practice what it says at the bottom of the Image of The Divine Mercy: "Jesus, I Trust in You!"

An unnamed correspondent wrote to me asking the precise meaning of "sorrowful passion" in the Chaplet. The English word "passion" comes from the Latin "passio" which means to feel or to suffer; Christ's passion includes all of His sufferings for us, and especially his sufferings from Holy Thursday to Good Friday. St. Faustina frequently meditated on the sorrows of the Heart of Jesus in His passion: for example, during the scourging (entry 188), the crowning with thorns (entry 408) and while He was dying on the Cross (entry 384). It was especially the ingratitude and indifference of so many souls to all that Jesus suffered for our sake, when He bore the penalty for our sins on the Cross, that caused Him grief and sadness, according to St. Faustina and many other saints of the Church. There is actually a whole chapter on St. Faustina's devotion to the passion of Jesus Christ in a book I wrote for Marian Press a few years ago entitled Jesus, Mercy Incarnate. This book, and the booklet on the Chaplet of the Five Wounds of Jesus (mentioned above), are available from the Marian Helpers' customer service line: 1-800-462-7426. They are both great Lenten spiritual reading and prayer resources.

Robert Stackpole, STD
John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy

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