The Divine Mercy Chaplet and vain repetition


In his 2002 Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (On the Most Holy Rosary), Pope John Paul II said:

  1. The Rosary, precisely because it starts with Mary’s own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer . Without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning, as Pope Paul VI clearly pointed out: “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ: ‘In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words’ (Mt 6:7). By its nature the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace, helping the individual to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord’s life as seen through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord. In this way the unfathomable riches of these mysteries are disclosed”. (source)

How does one keep the recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet from becoming, what those saintly popes refer to as, “a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ”? Unlike the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet seems to lack a defined contemplative element and without that, it would seem, there is even a greater risk of violating the admonition of Christ when praying the Chaplet. Are we suppose to be meditating on something in particular while praying the Chaplet, such as the passion of Christ, or are we suppose to only concentrate on every word of the prayers themselves?

If this is the wrong forum to ask this question, perhaps the moderator could move it to a more appropriate one.


I pray it for those in need/ I picture them getting the love and help they need from Our Lord. Depending on the circumstances, I think about the agonies Christ went through as I prayed for those who died in California during the night. If the chaplet feels mechanical then choose another prayer form. It just works for me and those I pray for.


I have a friend who can’t stand the divine mercy because her mother plays the song everyday

While it is most repetitive than the rosary and doesn’t have mysteries

I like to pray it when I feel that need for mercy and comfort in Jesus again

So if you feel scrupulous or shame of sin or fear of punishment

Pray the Divine Mercy
And contemplate the generosity of Jesus to forgive us
Contemplate not wanting to sin and overcoming the wrong attitude of shame and fear (which I personally struggle with)

Basically think about mercy (God’s and how you can be a work of Mercy in your life)

I’m going to take some of my own advice on this hopefully :joy:

With any prayer
Just give it your attention
And ask God to ignore the silly mistakes and muscle memory
He can make your prayers perfect


I think you’re confusing contemplation for meditation. Meditation can lead a person to contemplation. Contemplation is more like a sort of spiritual gazing at God. Personally, I find the rosary a bit too busy for entering into contemplation. You’re saying the words AND meditating. It’s hard to do both. You have to almost train your mind NOT to listen to your vocal prayers.

As such, I tend to think that it’s useful to add the meditative component to the rosary only after the words are know known by heart that it becomes difficult to continually focus your attention on the meaning of EVERY Our Father and EVERY Hail Mary. Once they are by heart and you’re primarily meditating on the mysteries, they are a nice rhythm that do aid in the meditation.

The other difference is that the Divine Mercy chaplet takes seven minutes to pray. The Rosary takes about 20. The divine mercy chaplet’s words also focus us directly on the mystery of our salvation. We can meditate on our sin, on God’s mercy, on sacrifice of Christ. Whereas the words of the Hail Mary and the Our Father are rather disconnected from the Mysteries of the rosary.

The Divine Mercy chaplet more closely resembles the Jesus prayer prayed by the Orthodox. The Jesus prayer seems to be older than the rosary.

In terms of vain repetition, I don’t think it’s about saying the same words over and over again. When need to remember the Words of the Our Father. They asked him “teach us to pray.” The Our Father is a model of all the aspects of what our prayers should look like.

An essential part of this is “Thy will be done” and Christ’s statements on letting go of worry. He reassures us that the Father already knows our needs. God already loves us. Our prayers to not serve any of His needs. He loves us for His own sake.

In understanding this, we must never view prayer as some offering to appease or move God. Like the Sabbath, it exists for US. We are the ones who are filled with worry and anxiety over our lives. And so, in our worry, we turn to God and bring our needs before Him. We entrust Him with our needs. And while we might be tempted to think “I need to pray or my needs would never get met,” this isn’t what Christ taught us.

God granted petitions and performs signs for our sake, to help us on the journey of faith. But they are not the be all and end all of our faith. And as we develop spiritually, we must recognize that God’s will is better than our own. In the end, we pray prayers of petition to build our relationship with God, to grow in our Trust, and to develop our relationship. As this happens, we let go of our anxiety.

Meditative prayers that involved a lot of repeated words are more about entering deeply into prayer, spending a good long moment with God. Without these longer prayers, it feels like I’m just …well it’s like sending God a text message. I’m barely giving God my attention. “Hey God. Can you do this for me. Thanks. Bye.”


Yeah to be honest, this chaplet really shouldn’t be set to song except for chanting. It becomes very tedious and repetitive for the same reasons we shouldn’t set the entire Rosary to song. That aside, I really don’t like the tune that they sing it too :confounded:


Since the Divine Mercy Chaplet is prayed with the rosary beads, I like to put the sorrowful mystery images in my mind with each decade.


Yeah my poor friend is a great Catholic and super kind
But she just can’t stand the prayer because it reminds her of the song

She’s a rosary fan though so I mean nothing wrong with that


I like the song. The prayer is not that long–about 7 minutes, hardly long enough to consider tedious. I often see it on TV and pray along.


How my family and I do it is “For the sake of Jesus’ sorrowful passion, have mercy on ___________, and on the whole world.”

You can fill in the blank with specific people like “Grandma” or “John at work”. I imagine God on his throne and as we say each person’s name I imagine myself or my family member (whoever is praying-we each take a decade) holding that person’s hand and bringing them to in front of God. Maybe that person couldn’t pray at all that day so this is a way to bring them to God’s presence.

Or you can fill in the blank with groups of people like “firefighters”, “everyone in nursing homes”, “priests”, “everyone in our parish”, “everyone in the hospital”, “all homeless people”. The possibilities are endless. Before we start the chaplet we invite The Holy Spirit into our hearts and minds and mouths and ask Him to lead us who to pray for. And He always does.

It has helped us teach our children about intercessory prayer. With each chaplet you’re praying for at least 50 people.


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