I have wanted for some time to write again about the grace of the prayer of repetition. Today a God–seeking soul shared with me that she used to think of the prayer of repetition as second rate. Her ideal was to remain perfectly still, empty, and receptive before God. Unable to do attain her ideal, she fell to the humble prayer of repetition, and now has come to recognize its value. She often prays the Chaplet of the Eucharistic Face of Christ. Like others, she has found that this humble prayer of seeking, desire, supplication, and praise anchors her in the presence of Our Lord. The repetition of its invocations (like the prayers of the Rosary) binds her gently, but effectively, to God.
This soul’s experience corresponds to my own. The prayer of repetition is pleasing to God because it is intrinsically humble. One accepts one’s inability to be perfectly still, entirely receptive, and totally absorbed in adoration, and then one accepts to make use of the poor man’s prayer: the same well–loved phrases burnished by repetition. As the heart is enkindled by the Holy Spirit, each repeated prayer becomes like a grain of incense thrown on an incandescent charcoal. Its fragrance is for God alone.
Folks who see themselves as theologically sophisticated and enlightened often disdain what I call les petits moyens, “the little means.” They sniff condescendingly at people who pray rosaries, chaplets, and litanies. Better to pray that way, I say, than to abandon prayer altogether.
The humble prayer of repetition bears sweet fruits. One fine day — or in the middle of the night — one wakes to discover that the heart is praying by itself. Deep within, a spring has begun to flow, irrigating one’s secret parts. Thus does the grace of Christ begin to heal what is wounded, to refresh what is weary, to make new what is old.