My older daughter just took up lacrosse this past spring, and if you’ve ever seen girls’ lacrosse, you know about “cradling”–the constant side-to-side twisting of the stick the player must do in order to keep control of the ball, women’s sticks not having the deep pockets that men’s sticks do. I think of the prayers associated with each bead as a similar thing–a sort of mental “cradling” that keeps the ball in the air, as it were–keeps me focused and allows my spiritual faculties to work unhindered (or, to be honest, a little less hindered) by my chattering mind.
I also use the familiar Dominican Rosary (what most people mean by “the Rosary”) and the similar, but less familiar Franciscan Crown Rosary as aids to intercessory prayer, about which you can read more here. I also use the even less familiar, but wonderfully uplifting Holy Spirit Chaplet[i] for that same purpose, and for the many people who are strangers to this devotion, here’s how it works.
The traditional way of praying this chaplet is a little complicated; as I am prone to do, I’ve simplified it. (In fact, in some places I’ve outright changed it; you can learn the traditional method here if you wish.)
ON THE HOLY SPIRIT MEDAL
Almighty God, to You all hearts are open, all desires known, and from You no secrets are hid. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love You, and worthily magnify Your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (Collect for Purity, Book of Common Prayer. I begin all my Christian chaplet devotions–with one exception, about which more below–with this prayer.)
ON THE THREE PREPARATORY SMALL BEADS
Breathe in me, Holy Spirit, that all my thoughts may be holy;
Act in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy;
Draw my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may only love what is holy;
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy;
Guard me, Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. (St. Augustine)
ON THE FIRST OF EACH OF THE FIVE SETS OF TWO LARGE BEADS
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name;
Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil. Amen.
ON THE SECOND OF EACH OF THE FIVE SETS OF TWO LARGE BEADS
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
ON EACH OF THE SEVEN SMALL BEADS BETWEEN THE SETS OF TWO LARGE BEADS
Glory to God, Transcendent Majesty, Incarnate Word, and Indwelling Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen. (Traditionally, this is the familiar “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit," etc. I prefer this version because it is not only more gender-neutral, but also more beautiful and, because it is longer, it allows more time to “hold in the light” each person for whom I am praying. It also just makes the whole exercise a little less like falling down the stairs.)
One other chaplet I am fond of is the Adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament Chaplet. This one, as it turns out, I actually pray in the traditional manner–but not in the traditional circumstances.
As Eucharistic Adoration is not part of my tradition, I most often pray this chaplet when, for whatever reason, I find myself in a Roman Catholic church rather than and Episcopal one. Since I, as a non-Catholic, am forbidden to receive Communion in a Catholic church, the chaplet gives me something to do while the other worshippers are communing. (I find this far more edifying than my former practice of sitting there and being resentful.) Here’s how the devotion works:
Oh, my Jesus, as I cannot now receive You in Holy Communion, come spiritually into my heart and make it Your own forever.
ON THE BEADS:
Lord Jesus, ever present in the holy sacrament of the altar, have mercy on us, and on the whole world.
For reasons that I will write about later, I have found myself becoming ever more dependent on structured devotions like chaplets, and the more I practice them, the more satisfying they become. If you find it difficult to sit in utter silence during your contemplative prayer time, you may find rosary practice as fruitful as I have.