Father Donald Calloway is clearly a man who knows a thing or two about the Rosary. So when he described the simple means of joining the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy that I shared with him, “a marriage made in heaven,” it confirmed me in the hope that this practice is meant for a wider audience than me and my children. These days—between the closing of the Year of Mercy and the One Hundredth Anniversary of Fatima’s Miracle of the Sun—seem like the perfect time to share it with you.
What do I mean when I speak of “marrying” the Rosary to the Chaplet? I mean that I interlace the two – that I follow each decade of the Rosary with a decade of the Chaplet. It was something I did quite by “chance” one day, but I was immediately taken aback at what happened: Both devotions began illuminating the other. I started to see the Cross’s relationship to each and every mystery of the Rosary. And when I moved from a mystery of the Rosary to a decade of the Chaplet, I recognized that I joined the Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross; and through her Jesus, we petitioned the Father for the graces meditated just meditated upon in the Rosary. Such a simple way to pray, but such profound spiritual realities!
As I reflected upon what I experienced, I began to see it as a form of lectio divina, divine reading. In the Rosary we are called to join Mary in her meditation upon the great events in our salvation, the events narrated in the pages of Scripture. We ponder the mysteries, seeking to hear what God wants to say to us through it. Then we turn to prayer, speaking to him about the light we have drawn during meditation and petitioning him for the grace to live it out. Read – Meditate – Pray, the first three steps of lectio divina.
I want to invite you to try it for yourselves. Thanks to the good people at En Route Books and Media, I am able to share an excerpt from our book, Marrying the Rosary to the Divine Mercy Chaplet. (For the full effect you might want to open your Bible to the Gospel of Luke and read its inspired account of Christ’s birth.) Let the reflection below be a starting point for your own meditation, allowing the Holy Spirit to build upon it as you pray one decade of the Rosary and then the Chaplet:
The Nativity draws our attention to the symmetry of God’s redemptive plan. Mary gives birth to Jesus in Bethlehem (“House of Bread” in Hebrew) and lays him in a manger, a feeding trough for animals. It prefigures the Eucharist, the memorial of his Paschal mystery.
The cave of the Nativity points ahead to the cave in which Jesus was buried…and raised. The angels tell the shepherds, “this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk. 2:12). Decades later the Apostle John will gaze into Christ’s tomb and, seeing “the linen cloths lying there” by themselves, come to faith in the Resurrection (John 20:4-9). For both John and the shepherds the wrappings acted as a sign. For the shepherds it was Jesus’ presence in the bands; but for John, his absence.
At Christ’s birth the angelic host proclaims, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”(Lk. 2:14). That peace was fully bestowed after our Lord’s Passion, on the evening of the Resurrection, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). And if we should lose that peace through grave sin, Christ gave the apostles the sacrament of reconciliation to restore it to us, “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you…If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:21-23).
- Decade of the Rosary: Our Father, ten Hail Marys, Glory Be, Fatima Prayer
- Pray: Dear Jesus, standing with your Mother at the foot of your Cross and filled with your Spirit, we pray…
- Chaplet Intercession: Father we ask your mercy for all those have not yet come to faith; let them see in Christ’s Cross the ultimate sign of your love. For those who believe, but keep their distance because of sin, give them the grace to receive your mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation.
- Decade of the Chaplet: “Eternal Father…,” ten “For the sake…”
Such a simple way to pray and yet, so powerful – like our Blessed Mother herself. I do not marry the two devotions in this way every day; but I do it from time to time. It really is a marriage made in heaven – Jesus and Mary, mercy and contemplation, petition and meditation.
Artwork: The Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerard van Honthorst (1622); St. John and St. Peter at Christ’s Tomb, Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (1640).