I apologize in advance because this post is probably going to come out a bit stream-of-conscious and I know that’s not easy to read.
So to give a brief background: overall I’ve always been a decently skeptical person and it’s only since mid-October I’m really reading anything theological so there are times when a part of me comes upon something and says, “Poppycock.” (Though that’s with things I don’t think we’re obligated to believe.) However that same skepticism does lead to still feeling that ‘poppycock’ tendency with things we are obligated to feel, though at least I have the rational argument of “If I believe the Church and the Church believes this, then it’s reasonable.” Anyways the reason I’m saying this is partially because that skepticism may also give me a skewed version of what superstition is and so you what might be obvious to you may not be quite so obvious to me. That said, time for my actual questions.
1: Prayers with promises attached
So I know prayers aren’t to be taken as a magical formula and that the power of prayer comes from truly asking God for help, not by saying some words. But then I’m having a difficult time understand then understanding why a prayer like the Chaplet of Divine Mercy isn’t a superstitious magic formula because a part of me is thinking, “Say these words. Get this promise. Pretty formulaic.” Or the same thing with the 15 Rosary Promises. Even though I know they’re not superstitious considering they’re Church-approved, how do I reconcile the formulaic-like nature? One thought I had was that perhaps that it’s not that those prayers specifically have those promises attached, but that they’re the most easily understood way of asking for that. But then I remembered the Eucharist and how the priest couldn’t have a valid Eucharist by saying, “Hey, God, do your thing.” because there are certain things the priest has to say. So even though I understand the Chaplet and the Rosary aren’t ‘magic formulas’ I’m wondering if there might be a good way of explaining the ‘why?’.
Again with this is tied in with promises and the thought of, “Wear this. Get this. Hmm.” Now I know it would be superstitious to think “I can do anything I want and this scapular will bring me to Heaven.” I also know it’s the prayers that are important. But then what’s the point of wearing the scapular in the first place? Considering they’re approved by the Church I know there’s something to it. Is the wearing of the scapular with the intent of growing closer to God’s will devotion in and of itself (basically a physical prayer) and that’s why those promises can be attached? (Odds are I’ll have to clarify that sentence because I realize it is not well-polished but I’m not sure how to at the moment.)