Sunday, May 12, 2013

PRAYING WITH AN ANGLICAN ROSARY

Now that you've had a chance to experiment with a simple counted prayer exercise, let's get down to business with Anglican rosaries.  Here are a few examples of rosaries I've made:

 

The Anglican rosary was developed in the 1980s as an aid to contemplative prayer. The design was a blend of the Roman Catholic Dominican rosary and Orthodox prayer ropes. Anglican rosaries have 33 beads, representing the number of years of Jesus' life. The rosary is divided into four "weeks" of seven beads each, that represent the seven seasons of the liturgical year, the seven days of creation, and the seven days of the week. 
Each week is separated by a cruciform bead. "Cruciform" means something that takes the shape of cross. When an Anglican rosary a laid out is a round shape, the four cruciform beads are located at the top, bottom and sides of the bars of a cross. 

Anglican rosaries are very frequently made with crosses rather than crucifixes, but that varies widely and there is no set tradition. 

The bead immediately above the cross that usually (but not always) looks like a cruciform bead, is called the invitatory bead. 

So, starting at the cross and going counter-clockwise, an Anglican rosary has the cross, the invitatory bead, the first cruciform bead, the first week of seven beads, the second cruciform bead, the second week of seven beads, the third cruciform bead, the third week of seven beads, the fourth cruciform bead, and the fourth week of seven beads, which will lead you back to the first cruciform bead.  Like this:



The above image is taken from The Anglican Rosary: rediscovering an ancient prayer tradition ( http://www.anglicanrosary.net/the-anglican-rosary/). Go check the site out!
 
There are no assigned prayers with an Anglican rosary. You may choose any prayers you wish. I recommend that you choose a prayer for the cross, one for the invitatory bead, one to be said at each of the four cruciform beads, and one to be said on each of the 28 week beads. Try to choose prayers that are short and easy to memorize so you may pray with your eyes closed. You may use parts of Psalms, prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, or make up your own. You may pray the rosary however you wish, from saying the same prayer on every bead to saying a different prayer for every bead. You may think the prayers, whisper, speak out loud, shout or sing them. 

Before you actually start to pray, get a feel for holding the rosary. Slide the fingers of your non-dominant hand through the loop of the rosary and let it hang off your hand with the cross near your pinky finger. Take the cross between your thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand.  Using your thumb, scoot the cross down so the invitatory bead can be grasped between your thumb and finger. Keep scooting the beads along with your thumb until you get the hang of the motion. With a little practice, you can hold the beads and move them with the same hand. Do what is comfortable and feels secure so you don't drop them.  

Notice how the cruciform beads feel different than the weeks beads. They may be a different size, different texture, or set further apart than the week beads. This is so you can tell what bead you are holding without looking. 

Now that you have gotten the feel of handling your rosary, here is a sample set of prayers. Remember, you can use whatever prayers suit your needs. Start with the cross and move your fingers along the string of beads, one bead for each prayer.

Sit comfortably, kneel, or stand, however you are comfortable. Take a few moments to breathe deeply, focusing on what you are going to be praying about. When you are ready, begin with the cross. Close your eyes if you have your prayers memorized.

The Cross:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

The Invitatory Bead:

Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise

***
The Cruciform Bead:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

The Seven Week Beads:

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy upon me (or "us" if you are praying in a group).

***
Repeat the cruciform and week bead prayers until you work your way back to the first cruciform bead. You can tell you're there when you feel the part of the rosary where the cross is When you finish the seventh week bead before the first cruciform bead, shift the rosary so you have the first cruciform bead in your fingers again.

Ending Prayer:

Thanks be to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Take a few deep breathes and slowly open your eyes.

 Get the idea?

Rosaries can be prayed for all sorts of reasons. Confession of sin, requesting something, interceding on someone else's behalf, giving thanks, praise, etc. Choose prayers that suit the reason you are praying. You may even want to make up your own little prayer book so you already have your prayers chosen for each type of prayer session.

Some people simply hold their beads in their hands as they pray without actually praying the rosary. Another way to use them is during centering prayer using them as a tool to refocus your attention when your mind wanders.

Keep in mind that a rosary is a tool, and tools should help, not hinder. Use a rosary however they assist your prayer life and don't get too bound up in "doing it right." 

Try getting together with a few friends and praying the rosary together out loud. It can be an amazing experience. Even young kids can really get into the rhythm of this prayer form. Incredible things can happen while praying with children. I highly recommend it.

Try singing or chanting your prayers. It brings an entirely different aspect of yourself to the experience.

Make your own rosary by stringing beads or buttons  onto some thread or twine, or tying knots in a length of cord. If you prefer to buy one, check out my shop by following the link on the right side of this page.

Let me know what your experience is like trying out counted prayers.