Praying with beads

Forgive me if we've had this topic before, but I'm a newbie at this kind of prayer.

We had a thread recently about The Jesus Prayer and I think rosaries and prayer ropes and similar accoutrements were mentioned there.

I've recently started using a small Orthodox prayer rope - more like a bracelet than a belt - for The Jesus Prayer and a small Anglican Rosary for other meditative prayers and intercessions. It's early days but I am finding them helpful.

Would Shippies who use such aids to prayer or contemplation share how they find using these?

It's all new to me so I'm still finding my feet and would be interested in what others have found when using these or similar items.
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Comments

  • I don't have much experience with rosaries. The prayer ropes I find easy to use and easy to carry around.
  • Yes, that's the advantage of them. I got the Anglican Rosary for domestic rather than mobile use and because it seemed a bit simpler than the RC ones - no disrespect intended to RC Shipmates.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    Unfortunately as an extreme P on a Myers-Brigg I find even these are not enough to keep my mind from wander - goodness was that a butterfly? So out of season. Poor little thing will freeze. :cry:

    However many people I know find them indispensable (oh heavens ... did I buy enough milk?) and I so get that .

    For me only the printed word keeps me on track.

    Track. Now there's a thought. The 6 o'clock is running late this morning.
  • Pearls of Life are quite the rage in Swedish prisons and elsewhere.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    Sorry, this is really long, especially as some of the comments assume a reading of the blog post that is also long.

    I have for a while used beads for a variety of things. I have used them in contemplative prayer to count1 Jesus prayers or breaths. At one time when I was struggling to concentrate during prayers in worship, I used an Anglican rosary in my pocket to help me keep a focus in a similar way. I have even worked out a long set of beads that takes you through the Bible but I have do not recall ever doing it in full. More recently my practice has been to pray the rosary on a semi-regular basis.

    Two years ago I wrote an Ethnographic reflection on praying the Rosary for the first time. It appears to be public, so I hope people can read it. What I should say is that with my current congregation devotion to Mary is not an optional extra. It is something that is expected of everyone. The vicar is content with this but it is the congregation itself that draws others into it.

    So since then, I have prayed the rosary semi-regularly, I aim for once a week with a group and once a week on my own. It took me about a year of personal practice in private before I was ready to do it with a group in public. I knew I was ready when I kept finding myself by the church at the time the rosary group met.

    I use on occasions the Scriptural Rosary and the Life of Christ Rosary as well as the normal form. I want to at some stage out of personal interest work out a Protestant version of the Life of Christ Rosary as to me it appears to give too much emphasis on the birth and death of Christ (four of the five decades) compared with the teaching and miracles (about half a decade). I deliberately steer away from the idea that there is a right way to pray the rosary and this use of a variety of forms helps me to do that.

    When I use the rosary, it is primarily a form of intercessory prayer for the church. What is rarely said when describing how to pray is that it is possible to hold an intention while you are doing the rosary. When I join with my congregation's rosary group then my intention is for the parish. When I do it on my own then my intention is usually for the Church Catholic particularly for the cleansing/healing of the abuse of power which has sullied it so much.

    A couple of notes: I do find it useful to have an icon of the BVM in front of me when I pray. I cannot explain while but that helps me to focus my thoughts. I also tie rosaries. This is simply practical, I do not like to carry either my given rosaries out with me. I want something that has no value and is pretty solid. A simple tied-rosary does this for me.

    1'count' in the sense of move one through my fingers when I have said a Jesus prayer or taken a breath but it did not give me a number because I used a bracelet of beads that had no clear start or finish. I timed the practice rather than did a set number of repetitions.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    Zappa wrote: »
    Unfortunately as an extreme P on a Myers-Brigg I find even these are not enough to keep my mind from wander - goodness was that a butterfly? So out of season. Poor little thing will freeze. :cry:

    However many people I know find them indispensable (oh heavens ... did I buy enough milk?) and I so get that .

    For me only the printed word keeps me on track.

    Track. Now there's a thought. The 6 o'clock is running late this morning.

    I use the rosary with texts particularly the Scriptural and the Life of Christ rosaries. There is NO WAY I am going to remember which bible verse comes next unless I have the text in front of me.

  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    I find that the average rosary group goes far too fast for me! I like to take my time over it, and I definitely need the texts and prayers in front of me.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I kind of wish I'd grown up with rosary beads - I know cradle Catholics who say they only have to touch the beads and it immediately puts them into a state of peace and focus on God, so they no longer need to say the words. I find them kind of fiddly. I tried for a while, but then sometimes I'd forget to bring my Rosary beads with me, so I used my fingers instead. And then I realised it felt much easier and more natural using my fingers. So I use my fingers as rosary beads. Though I'm sure if I kept going with the rosary beads, I'd get used to them, but I guess I can't really see a point in bringing something extra with me when I have ten fingers I can use.

    I use the Rosary prayer in an intercessory way. A different person for each finger, and repetitions of ten different people. Fingers are also easier than beads for remembering which person goes with each finger. It's much more spatial - you have left and right, and thumbs and different positions of fingers, so I remember all the people spatially.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Just thinking, when I was given my Rosary beads, as a gift from some nuns, they told me that it is not to be worn as a necklace - they gave David Beckham as an example of how not to do it! That is seen as vanity. But I actually think it would be easier to remember to take with you if it could be worn as a necklace. Otherwise you need a pocket, and when you forget it's in there, it goes in the washing machine, and the coating comes off the wooden beads, and also the little icon thing came off in the wash too. It would be much easier as a necklace, and you'd be constantly feeling it and remembering to pray all the time.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    One of the most profound experiences I have of praying the rosary was when travelling in response to a family emergency. I put it in, thinking it would be something to do while on a train journey and found a sense of being connected to a worldwide prayer network very supportive in a difficult time.
  • Interesting. Thanks for the feedback and keep it coming. My mind wanders too, so I wondered whether beads would help me to focus.

    Ask me in a few months time whether that's succeeded.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    Fineline, I should think that wearing a rosary for transport purposes would be fine - just not if it's just for fashion. Wearing it underneath a shirt so it's not visible but easily reachable (not dissimilar to a scapular) is a sensible compromise imo.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Jengie Jon wrote: »
    Two years ago I wrote an Ethnographic reflection on praying the Rosary for the first time. It appears to be public, so I hope people can read it.
    I’m afraid I get an “Error—Page Can’t Be Found” message.

    Pomona wrote: »
    Fineline, I should think that wearing a rosary for transport purposes would be fine - just not if it's just for fashion. Wearing it underneath a shirt so it's not visible but easily reachable (not dissimilar to a scapular) is a sensible compromise imo.
    Yes, it’s the wearing it for fashion rather than devotion that’s the problem, though wearing it as a necklace for devotional reasons isn't common. Some in religious orders wear them attached to the cincture or belt. This article might be helpful.

    FWIW, I use Anglican prayer beads from time to time.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    I have updated the post so you should now be able to see it.

    Sorry.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host
    Thanks, Jengie -- you mention the Prayer of Fatima being said as part of the rosary prayers and this isn't that common, as far as I know. As a convert, I loathed sitting with a group of women rattling aloud through prayers at breakneck speed while using the rosary like a makeshift abacus.

    After a painful eye operation when I was convalescent in bed with limited vision, touch became important to me and using knotted prayer cords or rosaries was a way of grounding myself and helping me to stay focused, especially when I was distracted by pain. The rosary beads are a good placeholder when I lose my way or where I am in the prayer cycle, because my fingers will have paused on a particular bead. The rosary sometimes feels like a very busy prayer, given the phrases to be repeated at the same time that one is supposed to meditate on the Glorious or Sorrowful Mysteries, but with familiarity the rhythm feels more natural and the meditations are just there as background. Sometimes I just hold and gently move the beads in wordless prayer.

    Rosaries are quite fragile and I keep mine in a small leather pouch next to my bed or in a bag when travelling. If I don't have a rosary with me, I do what fineline describes and use my fingertips to measure the decades.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Pomona wrote: »
    Fineline, I should think that wearing a rosary for transport purposes would be fine - just not if it's just for fashion. Wearing it underneath a shirt so it's not visible but easily reachable (not dissimilar to a scapular) is a sensible compromise imo.
    Yes, it’s the wearing it for fashion rather than devotion that’s the problem, though wearing it as a necklace for devotional reasons isn't common. Some in religious orders wear them attached to the cincture or belt. This article might be helpful.

    Yes, I agree, and I don't think God would be bothered. I don't think anything I wear is for fashion anyway - comfort, convenience and practicality are what influence what I wear, so putting prayer beads round my neck would hardly give me a newfound temptation to vanity! I suppose it's more not wanting to give people the wrong impression, and also these beads don't actually fit round my head anyway. I'd have to get a bigger chain. And yes, as that article highlights, it's odd that they are seen as okay in bracelet form - I've often thought that was a bit contradictory. Maybe it's from a tradition where necklaces, being an adornment for the face, are seen as more about vanity, and bracelets, being close to hands, seen as more about practicality.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    edited June 22
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    Thanks, Jengie -- you mention the Prayer of Fatima being said as part of the rosary prayers and this isn't that common, as far as I know. As a convert, I loathed sitting with a group of women rattling aloud through prayers at breakneck speed while using the rosary like a makeshift abacus.

    I am not sure quite how common it is. It is part of the New Advent form which is what my church uses and the local Roman Catholic Cathedral. When the vicar teaches it, he teaches it without. I have done enough investigations to know that local practice may not reflect general. We may be the only congregation that includes among its ending prayers include the ACS Prayer for Priests and I think the local Anglican diocese mission prayer and the Prayer to Michael Archangel. This only makes some sort of sense in the context of those praying.

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Jengie Jon wrote: »
    I have updated the post so you should now be able to see it.

    Sorry.
    I can indeed, and I look forward to reading it. Thanks!

    fineline wrote: »
    And yes, as that article highlights, it's odd that they are seen as okay in bracelet form - I've often thought that was a bit contradictory. Maybe it's from a tradition where necklaces, being an adornment for the face, are seen as more about vanity, and bracelets, being close to hands, seen as more about practicality.
    Quite possibly, especially the part about being near the hands and about vanity. My hunch is that it’s two things, which may be related. Bracelets and rings aren’t as noticeable as necklaces and don’t, for a better way of putting it, call attention to themselves in the same way that a necklace might. (There’s the vanity.). And perhaps because of that, there is a long tradition of single-decade rosary bracelets and rings. There isn’t a similar tradition of rosary necklaces.

  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @Jengie Jon thank you for that. It's really interesting.

    I'm not at all sure I could manage the traditional Rosary. I rather think praying one prayer while trying to meditate on something else at the same time wouldn't work for me.

    One of the things I really like about the Jesus Prayer, is that it's something you just do. You aren't expected to do something else at the same time. I find a komboskini very helpful. It helps concentrate and steady body, mind, soul and spirit. It also gives reassurance, when I fall into distractions, that the important part of me is the non-distracted bit.


    @Gamma Gamaliel I know you're supposed to use a komboskini that's been tied by a holy monk or nun using the proper shaped knot, and I have now got a proper one. But I'm CofE not Orthodox, and it is possible to make your own by tying knots in a piece of string. There's quite a lot to be said for making every tenth knot (say) noticeably a bit bigger and then making the final knot when you tie the two ends together extra big. That way, you get a feel for how many prayers you're praying, and when you've done a complete circuit.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    As I have said elsewhere I use a 33-knot prayer rope to tell repetitions of the Jesus Prayer, as part of my morning prayer routine. I have in the past used a standard-issue Catholic rosary for the same purpose. Oddly I don't remember what I did on the decade beads. Just another Jesus prayer probably.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    When I pray the rosary, I am not praying one thing while meditating on something else. I'm praying the words for people - asking Mary to pray for the people. But I don't do the sorrowful mysteries, joyful mysteries, etc., thing. I don't really get that aspect of it - or rather I don't find it helpful.

    I do the same with the Jesus prayer. It's a generalised 'have mercy', but I can make it specific for people too, and I do this.
  • I'm CofE not Orthodox too, but I'm very much an Orthophile other than when they let themselves down - all too often I'm afraid - with phyletism and general pain in the neckness ...

    I find the idea of the RC Rosary a bit of a faff - all this Sorrowful Mysteries this and Joyful Mysteries that and Somewhere in Between Mysteries the other ...

    Saying that, from my limited usage so far, I find the Anglican Rosary to be somewhere in between a kosher Orthodox prayer rope and the RC rosary.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    I'm CofE not Orthodox too, but I'm very much an Orthophile other than when they let themselves down - all too often I'm afraid - with phyletism and general pain in the neckness ...

    The first is indeed our besetting sin. The latter is the lot of all mankind.
  • Indeed.
  • OblatusOblatus Shipmate
    Regarding rosaries being fragile, I notice there are people making rosaries that are practically indestructible. (Offered for information only; I have no vested interest in their business.)
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    The original rosaries utilized beads made from compacted rose petals. Not nearly as manly as the ones in Oblatus' post.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host
    @Oblatus that finishes me! The old rugged rosary with 'military-strength paracord, never gutted'. It sounds more durable than most of my tentative distracted prayers.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Oblatus wrote: »
    Regarding rosaries being fragile, I notice there are people making rosaries that are practically indestructible. (Offered for information only; I have no vested interest in their business.)
    I'm surprised that website doesn't claim that if you carry one of their rosaries the bullets won't harm you, you'll end up a General and President Trump will personally pin a medal on your proud breast. Perhaps it does.
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    I agree with those who have said "Doing the Mysteries" is distracting. I prefer to use the Rosary as more quieting and centring and I believe that is a perfectly valid way of doing it even according to the Roman Catholic Church.

    I am not RC, I just love accoutrements
    ( And Our Mother too - since 2009)
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    There are tons of wonderfully butch ones on www.etsy.com too
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    For those interested there are instructions on tying a rosary. In my experience, they are stronger than the bead ones. I do not tie the cross but use a crucifix that I buy either at a local Christian shop or online.
  • Curiosity killedCuriosity killed Shipmate
    edited June 23
    I've made rosaries, using cord and a mix of the tying instructions and beads. On both the decade bead is a knot, with beads between, using the standard knot from the tying, but because it's cord that's quite chunky. And the join is the big knot. One is finished with a knotted cross and the other has a silver cross.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I do sometimes think it would be cheaper and quite straightforward to make one’s one, maybe from beads from charity shop necklaces.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    (I mean ‘one’s own,’ not ‘one’s one’! I clicked to edit it but when I clicked to save the edited version, I got lots of pop ups telling me I need vanilla!)
  • This is the one with a knotted cross. The beads were in my stash, leftovers from making beaded tree decorations with Guides a few years ago.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    This is the one with a knotted cross. The beads were in my stash, leftovers from making beaded tree decorations with Guides a few years ago.

    I like that. Was it hard to make a cross from knots?

  • It's the same method as in Jengie Jon's link, the beads are the decades, the knots between are as the decade knot, as that gave me a texture rather than a size to feel and the beads have enough room to slide back and forth a bit. I was using cotton cord, so I used candle wax to seal it.
  • I like the idea of making one's own but I'm all fingers and thumbs and was useless at knots in the Cubs.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    @Oblatus that finishes me! The old rugged rosary with 'military-strength paracord, never gutted'. It sounds more durable than most of my tentative distracted prayers.

    Hmmm ... the non existent hymn-writer in me is beginning to stir:

    In a pocket just near here rests an old rugged rosary with military-strength paracord
    [might have to work on the scansion there 🤔]
    the centering of pining and prayer
    And I finger those beads, and I open my soul
    to mysteries of God's love and care

    So I carry the old rugged rosary with military-strength paracord
    [it's not getting better 🙄]
    and make sure it stays out of the wash
    and I'll finger those beads, and I'll open my soul
    not caring that they're slightly too posh

    Hmmmm ... don't thank me. Just send royalties.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host
    Zappa, I didn't think anyone would pick up on that :grin:
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    @Zappa you need to work in the "never gutted" somehow.
  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    LOL, Zappa! :)

    I do repetitive prayers, and I sometimes use prayer beads--but not together. For me, it works better to do the prayers in my head; and simply touch/hold the prayer beads as a comfort item when I need them.

    I have various prayers, meditations, verses, and other goodies memorized: various forms of Christian; Buddhist; Pagan; poetry; quotes from novels, etc.

    Important note: If you (gen.) do repetitive prayers, choose ones you really, really like--because they may start repeating in your mind without any conscious choice or effort. That's what they're for: praying without ceasing. And you may not be able to simply stop them.

    I've been using them most of my adult life, and (to some extent) before then. I grew up in the kind of church where it was very important to memorize Bible verses for guidance, comfort, and a shield against evil. ("Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee", etc.) So that may have made it easier and more normal to memorize prayers. (Though it was a church that mostly didn't use set prayers, other than the Lord's Prayer and the 23rd Psalm, and some other bits of scripture. John 3:16 was the closest thing to a creed.)

    I suspect they're probably running somewhere in my head most of the time. Sometimes, they just show up in my mind; and sometimes, I jump-start them. They're handy in the middle of the night, during medical tests, when I'm feeling lost, etc.

    They're probably not for everybody. I don't know whether they'd be good or bad for someone with OCD.






  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    I would strongly advise not making or using these!

    The Uranium Rosary (Instructables).

    It's evidently for real. (eeek!) However, the Instructables has DIY instructions for regular rosaries.
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    Zappa wrote: »
    not caring that they're slightly too posh.

    Surely they are not posh enough!!
  • Re OCD--IMHO I wouldn't. OCD runs in my family (I had a form of it as a child--still do, to some extent) and I avoid repetitive stuff, including prayers, like poison ivy. That's because a) I wouldn't be able to stop, and b) it would very very quickly become extremely annoying and distressing to me--probably within five minutes or so. Which is why I've been reading this thread with a sense of wonder and "O brave new world, that has such people in it." I mean, you all CAN do this stuff, and it actually HELPS you. (shakes head in wonder)
  • Hmmm ... I never really thought about OCD or other syndromes / conditions ...

    I wouldn't do the bead thing every single day, although it's certainly taking its place in my repertoire as it were.

    I used to be given to lengthy extemporary prayers with a fair bit of Welsh 'hwyl.' I don't despise that but I dunno, that doesn't feel appropriate to me any more.

    I do find that I vary the repeated sequences, perhaps because I still have a residual evangelical suspicion of 'vain repetition' and flummery.

    Who knows?

    Different strokes for different folks.
  • OblatusOblatus Shipmate
    I do find that I vary the repeated sequences, perhaps because I still have a residual evangelical suspicion of 'vain repetition' and flummery.

    The repetition bothers me only if I'm praying the Rosary in a group setting and the leader is gabbling through it or has distracting mannerisms, like attempting to modulate his voice differently on every single Hail Mary: "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of...thy...womb...JE-zosss..."
  • Ha ha ...

    I must admit, the idea of praying a Rosary in a group setting doesn't appeal to me in the least.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    I once went to a very nice workshop/retreat thing at the local Episcopal bishop shack on the Jesus Prayer, including some guided plenary prayers. Worked quite well for me.
  • Ok. I suppose it would depend on how it was done. Other than Mousethief nobody else here has 'sold' me on the idea of corporate clacketty-clack or ropitty-rope ...
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