05 January 2013

Rosary Notes Updated

Blogger fooled me. I did a rather extensive edit on this post, initially published on 29 January 12. I renamed it, and expected the system to consider it a new post. It did not, moving the comments from the earlier post into this new one. Ah well, I live and learn! My apologies to JCF and Christal.  I think their comments make sense with the revised post, but will remove them if they wish.
Jim B.

I make Anglican Rosaries from time to time. I made one today. As I strung the beads together, it occurred to me that a difference between Anglicans and Roman Catholics is that we do not intuitively know how to pray a rosary. R. C. kids, especially those who have been to parochial grade school, know this sort of thing. It is in their air and water.

One thing about Anglicans, we do not have a central authority. There is no one who can prescribe the prayers. We sort of like that. We not only do not have central authority: we do not want it. Which probably explains why the Covenant is a dead letter.

But that leaves the issue of the prayers. The rosary is fairly new in Anglican usage, and even more so outside of North America, where it originated. They are easy enough to describe: a circle (more about that below) of four sections, separated by four large beads, each section carrying seven beads. It is common to refer to the sections as “weeks” and the smaller beads as “days."  I cannot find an academic reference, nor again any authority, but this is the pattern I see, make and pray.

Outside the circle is a single “invetory” or “introit” bead, and a cross or crucifix. Those I make have crosses  generally, not crucifixes. I have a reason for this: we are, we Episcopalians, Resurrection people, Incarnation people. We are not Atonement people. We leave the whole idea of focusing on the crucifixion suffering to our Roman cousins. That does not mean we belittle it, only that it is not at our center. Incarnation, Resurrection, these are at our center.

There is no official pattern and as an artisan, I have worked on the design. I am proud (perhaps sinfully) of the results. I use a stringing pattern that allows the four “Week” sections to actually define a circle. That stringing places the cross and invetory bead clearly outside the circle. This is intentional. The pattern allows a person to easily pray the beads more than once, moving around the circle

Here is how I pray the rosary.
  • I make a cross, and holding the cross on the rosary I pray the Gloria.
  • I move to the introit bead, and make a choice (I am Episcopalian!) either praying the “Lord's Prayer” or naming the concerns I bring to the prayer. So if I do not say the Lord's Prayer, I might pray, “Father, you are holy and blessed. I come before you to pray for: South Sudan, the ministry of the Episcopal Church threatened by litigation and libel, those who have asked my prayers: …..”
  • In any case I move to the first large Week bead and again make a choice, either asking a particular Saint to pray with me “Holy Luke, patron of healers pray with me,” or praying another Gloria.
  • Then as I allow each day bead or pass through my hand I pray either a Kyrie: “Lord have Mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy” or “Holy God, Holy and mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy.” At times, I change saints from week bead to week bead so that the first bead section is Luke, the second Mary, the third Peter, and the forth whomever is being commemorated by the church (I use Holy Women – Holy Men for this) that day.
  • Finally I return to the invetory bead, saying usually, a Lord's prayer, and the cross which I sign with, In the name of the Father, Son and Spirit, Amen."
Variations abound. My rather Marian son asks Mary to pray with him at each of the four large beads. I have been known to use each bead to ask a different archangel to pray with me for something specific. I know a person who prays kyries at the weeks and Ave Maria at each smaller bead. I and most people I know circle the beads once or 3 times. 12 is also popular with some folks.

Why do this? Because it helps center and focus our prayer and it teaches us to exclude all other thoughts while we pray.

It is not magic. We do not get goodies from God. Episcopalians may be many things but we are never, “healthy wealthy and wise Christians.” We are praying people. We treasure not a book of rules, or a book of discipline, but a book of, “Common Prayer.” Prayer is what we do, what we always seek to be better at doing. And for some of us, the beads help.


Christal said...

Ever since you made me my gorgeous rosary, I enjoy using it for my own prayers, and for the traditional Anglican rosary that your son, Drew, taught me to say.

I wonder if anyone else out there says the Anglican rosary?

JCF said...

I'm as Anglican (Episcopalian) as they come...

...but I prefer the Roman rosary (Go figure!). [Including the (fairly) recently added "Luminous" Mysteries: the RCs finally picked up on Jesus's life between being 12 in the Temple and Agony at Gethsemane!]

I like crucifixes too. They're just more, um, embodied to me.

JimB said...

Thanks Christal. I am glad my work helps your prayer life.

JCF, you are entitled. I prefer the Anglican version both for its freedom and its help in centering on something other than the suffering / atonement theology. As we pray, we believe, or something like that. But we each have to find our own path. Thanks for your thoughts.


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