praying the rosary.

This is shaping up to be a long post. I hope you'll find it interesting. As a disclaimer, I am neither Catholic nor Anglican, so please correct any mistakes you find if you are a practicing Catholic/Anglican. I'm definitely new to this idea.

Have you ever heard of Anglican prayer beads? If you know much about Catholic rosaries, you already know how it works. I've been intrigued by the use of rosaries for a while, and how they could possibly aid me with my prayers.


The idea of a rosary is really awesome, as it keeps you focused on what you're praying for, especially if you're interested in saying regular prayers throughout the day. Prayer is a tough thing for me to grasp, as it is so open for us as Christians. For me, prayer is rather elusive and I feel like I'm cheating myself of some real time with God by saying those "drive by prayers" which are simple utterances as you think of them throughout the day. That is a very valid prayer form which I plan to continue, but I don't think it is substantial enough to be considered a prayer life. Also, one "quiet time" a day seems so limiting at thing point in my life.

At any rate. If you don't know anything about rosaries, here is the deal (as best as a non-Catholic with no background can explain it). Have you ever heard someone say, "Say your ten Hail Marys and be on your way"? Contrary to popular belief, the rosary itself is not considered to possess any power, nor are the prayers powerful as empty recitations. In Matthew 6:7, Jesus warns not to pray with meaningless repetition. I could definitely see how this idea (borrowed from pagans, by the way) could turn into that. However, meditation often leads us to repeat verses as we either commit them to memory or our spirit, so I don't consider this heretical. It is just an aid with a formatted prayer, with each bead representing part of the prayer (See the image below for more information).

I recently heard of an Anglican rosary and began to look into it, as I attended an Episcopalian school and am somewhat comfortable with Episcopalian and Anglican theology. I chose to look into using an Anglican rosary rather than Catholic for two main reasons: I tend to dislike using the crucifix (it's a personal doctrine -- not idolizing Christ on the cross); and the Catholic rosary has a more set purpose while the Anglican rosary is more of an aid to general prayer. I know the latter could be overlooked since I am not Catholic, but it just seemed appropriate to me.

The Catholic rosary, as you can see, is made up of a crucifix, 53 decades (small beads) and 6 large beads. The Anglican rosary is smaller, made up of a cross (varying forms are available, such as Jerusalem, Celtic or Lutheran crosses), an invitatory bead, 4 cruciforms (large beads) and 28 weeks (small beads).

I didn't find any specific symbolism for the Catholic rosary, but the Anglican rosary is very intentional in its design. I personally don't assign any spiritual significance but think it's kind of interesting to note the design, which is full of Christian symbols. The weeks (small beads) are divided into groups of seven, which is the number of completion in Judeo-Christian tradition. The cruciforms that divide the weeks form a cross, and can represent the four cardinal directions, gospels, or elements. The total number of beads is 33, which is the number of years Christ lived. Just a few fun facts.

So. I'm going to start using a rosary. It's rather foreign to our non-ritualistic version of Christianity here in the US, but I'm not against rituals that don't take on spiritual significance beyond themselves. There are lots of prayer formats to get me started. Ultimately I'm praying that this will draw me closer to God, promote discipline in my prayer life, and help with scripture memory. I don't know if I'll make it a permanent fixture in my life, but I'm really excited about trying something different. Also, this will of course not be the only way that I pray. All in all, I can't wait to see what God does with it in me.

What do you think about the use of prayer aids of any kind? Are there any that you use? 

Sources and interesting reads:
full circle prayer beads
how to pray the rosary - including non catholic traditions
skip guinness learns to pray

love, me

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I wanna ask if you have interest in seeing a project to implement a catholic rosary software? More details in this thread at Catholic Forums:


    Thank you!