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Author Topic: Western rite rosary and sign of the cross  (Read 7877 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 15, 2009, 07:43:04 PM »

I have a couple of questions about the western rite. I looked up these two topics online and found contradictory articles so I thought it would be best if I post my questions here to see what the answers are.

1. Do western-rite Orthodox make the sign of the cross from right-to-left shoulder or left-to-right? And how do you position your fingers when you do it?

2. What rosary do you pray? Do you pray the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries or do you add the Luminous mysteries (I don't think any Orthodox pray the Luminous mysteries because it is new and Catholic but I'm not sure so I thought I would ask anyway)? What days do you pray a certain mystery? Or do you pray the St. Seraphim of Sarov rosary when you pray all the 15 decades in one day? And how do you respond to how imagination can be dangerous and bad and that you shouldn't imagine when praying?
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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2009, 08:11:51 PM »

I have a couple of questions about the western rite. I looked up these two topics online and found contradictory articles so I thought it would be best if I post my questions here to see what the answers are.

I don't know what articles you've read, but these two might be helpful:
Ad.1. http://www.westernorthodox.com/customs (look up the section titled 'The Sign of the Cross: How Big?')
Ad.2. http://www.westernorthodox.com/rosary.html
« Last Edit: March 15, 2009, 08:13:34 PM by Michał » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2009, 10:21:51 PM »

Thanks but I already read those articles. And I have also went to a western-rite parish's website that said what mysteries were to be read for the day (like the glorious, joyful, etc.). And I have also went to another western-rite parish's website that talked about the rosary and explained how western rite orthodox say it. And they said to say 5 decades every day and depending on what day it is, you say a certain mystery (glorious, joyful, etc.). I don't have time right now to see what websites they are on right now but I'll try to look for them tomorrow.

And I have also heard two different things about the sign of the cross and I've seen a western-rite video of the mass where the person did it from right-to-left which is different than the way the website you mentioned said to do it. So I'm still not sure how it is generally done in a western rite parish.
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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2009, 11:11:35 PM »

1. Most - that is, the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate - do it left to right like Roman Catholics, just like when they were high-church Anglicans. But Western Rite ROCOR does it right to left. Although everybody now does it left to right except the Byzantine Rite, right-to-left was the original way. It was reversed in Italy in the 1100s and no-one really knows why.

2. Right, Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious, the traditional RC one, just like when they were high-church Anglicans.
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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2009, 06:34:26 AM »

Most - that is, the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate. . . But Western Rite ROCOR. . .

And what about the Western Rite Orthodox under the Serbian Church, in France?

Although everybody now does it left to right except the Byzantine Rite, right-to-left was the original way. It was reversed in Italy in the 1100s and no-one really knows why.

Do you have any sources on that? I've read somewhere on this forum that the original way was left-to-right and it was changed by the Eastern Orthodox at the time of the crusades, because the EO wanted to show that they were different from the Latin crusaders. And the fact that all the Oriental Orthodox and the Assyrians do it left-to-right seems to confirm that. Any way, I prefer right-to-left. Wink

Right, Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious, the traditional RC one, just like when they were high-church Anglicans.

BTW, are there any Western Rite Orthodox who aren't of high-church Anglican or Charismatic Episcopalian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charismatic_Episcopal_Church) backgrounds? For example, any ex-Old Catholics or ex-Roman Catholics? Or maybe ex-Lutherans or ex-Methodists?
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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2009, 06:46:07 AM »

1. Most - that is, the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate - do it left to right like Roman Catholics, just like when they were high-church Anglicans. But Western Rite ROCOR does it right to left. Although everybody now does it left to right except the Byzantine Rite, right-to-left was the original way. It was reversed in Italy in the 1100s and no-one really knows why.

By any chance do you know how the Western Rite Vicariate set their fingers when they make the sign of the cross? Do they keep their fingers straight out like Roman Catholics? Or do they touch their thumb, index finger, and middle finger together while the ring finger and pinky are touching the palm (like Eastern Rite Orthodox)? Or do put their fingers in a totally different way?
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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2009, 10:21:37 AM »

I don't know what the Western Rite Orthodox under the Serbs do. My guess is as they were l'ECOF (Catholic Orthodox Church of France, who use a sort of Gallican rite) which were at one point Western Rite ROCOR they do it right-to-left but of course I could be wrong.

That the non-Byzantine Eastern churches do it left-to-right does seem to say it's the original way... or maybe those Christians got that from the RC Crusaders like the Armenians their bishop's mitres.

I don't know if the AWRV has any rule on how to hold the fingers but my guess is it's straight Western Catholic without the Byzantine positioning of them.

My impression is by and large WRO, most of which is AWRV, is an American Anglo-Catholic phenomenon (looks like traditional RC worship but based on the US 1928 Book of Common Prayer and theologically non-papal) now with an influx of ex-Charismatic Episcopal, which is still arguably in that tradition. That said of course there are WRO who never were Anglican or anglican (Anglican-based but not Anglican like the Church of England and Episcopalians).

L'ECOF may have been Old Catholic to begin with... Mgr Winnaert started off as a Modernist RC priest who left... I don't know if between that and becoming Orthodox in 1937 (I trust by then he wasn't a Modernist any more!) he'd been in the Utrecht communion (real Old Catholics).

The flagship traditional Roman Rite parish of the AWRV, St Augustine's, Denver, and its pastor, Mgr Mangels (who was an RC layman to begin with), were not actual Old Catholics but conservative Old Catholic-based vagantes (not in the Utrecht communion but independent).

(AWRV: Monsignor = Byzantine Rite Archpriest.)

There's also Our Lady of Regla in Miami, a Cuban church. I don't know their background but they are very traditional RC-orientated.

The recently restarted Holy Incarnation Church in Detroit of the AWRV are ex-Lutherans; at least the priest, Fr Fenton, is. He was the highest Missouri Synod pastor who ever lived, going by Father and having weekly High Mass and a statue of Our Lady with votive lights in his church, Zion in Detroit. Such 'Lutho-Catholic' Lutheran ministers are few in America but they're out there. I've met two from ELCA. The recently departed Fr Richard John Neuhaus, who ended up an RC priest, was like that as a Lutheran pastor.

I don't know of any mass conversions from Methodism to WRO.
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« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2009, 10:50:20 AM »

1. Most - that is, the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate - do it left to right like Roman Catholics, just like when they were high-church Anglicans. But Western Rite ROCOR does it right to left. Although everybody now does it left to right except the Byzantine Rite, right-to-left was the original way. It was reversed in Italy in the 1100s and no-one really knows why.

By any chance do you know how the Western Rite Vicariate set their fingers when they make the sign of the cross? Do they keep their fingers straight out like Roman Catholics? Or do they touch their thumb, index finger, and middle finger together while the ring finger and pinky are touching the palm (like Eastern Rite Orthodox)? Or do put their fingers in a totally different way?

I've seen both 'thumb, index, middle finger together' and 'thumb and right ring finger touch, index and middle straight, little finger alongside ring finger'.
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« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2009, 10:58:50 AM »

And the fact that all the Oriental Orthodox and the Assyrians do it left-to-right seems to confirm that. Any way, I prefer right-to-left. Wink

Assyrians do it right to left.
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« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2009, 03:26:11 PM »

The young fogey, thank you for elaborate answer.

Assyrians do it right to left.

Didn't know that. Thanks for correcting me.
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2009, 07:14:57 AM »

And how do you respond to how imagination can be dangerous and bad and that you shouldn't imagine when praying?

Does anyone know? I haven't found anything online yet that answers this question about imagination while praying the rosary.
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« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2009, 03:01:40 PM »

Rosary @ OrthodoxWiki.org: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Rosary. The decades presented here (and also here: http://www.westernorthodox.com/rosary.html) seem to differ a little bit from the the traditional RC ones.
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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2009, 03:55:58 PM »

And how do you respond to how imagination can be dangerous and bad and that you shouldn't imagine when praying?

Does anyone know? I haven't found anything online yet that answers this question about imagination while praying the rosary.

Well, I'll jump in here and say that using the imagination in prayer is dangerous rather than can be  dangerous.

But to get to the root of the question, I don't really know either.  I've asked similar, if not the same, questions on other forums, only to get "shouted down" by Western Rite folks.  In fact, they referred me to the works of St Theophan the Recluse, and books like "The Art of Prayer" by Archimandrite Cherubim - the very works that led me to question the Western practices!

But, I think there may be a key to understanding this in the history of the Rosary.  I checked wikipedia (I know, a horrible source for info, but I use it mostly as a starting point!) and it seems to confirm that the Rosary has pre-Schism antecedents, but scholars are apparently unsure of their exact composition.  But it does seem that the mysteries were added to the Rosary after it had been in use for a while.

So, it seems entirely legitimate to do the Rosary prayers without the mysteries, focusing your mind on the prayers, and nothing else, just as one does with the Jesus Prayer.

Then something struck me.  Nothing in the old literature I could access said that you had to meditate on the mystery at the same time as you were saying the prayers!  It seems to make sense that the mysteries are/were intended as mental "speed bumps" during this prayer rule, in order to slow you down, so that you don't just rattle off prayers as fast as possible (which is a tendency a lot of people, including myself, have).  So one could meditate on the mystery for few minutes (or seconds), then say the Our Father, the Hail Mary's and the Glory.  One would stop meditating for the prayers, just as one stops saying the prayers while they are meditating on a mystery.

That's just my opinion, of course.  This may have no relevance whatsoever to the real practice of the Rosary in the Western Rite or anywhere else.  I should also point out that I converted to Orthodoxy from an evangelical Protestant background, and have exactly no experience as a Roman or Anglo Catholic.  Therefore, my opinions above are purely congectural, and I welcome correction.
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« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2009, 04:19:10 PM »


Then something struck me.  Nothing in the old literature I could access said that you had to meditate on the mystery at the same time as you were saying the prayers!  It seems to make sense that the mysteries are/were intended as mental "speed bumps" during this prayer rule, in order to slow you down, so that you don't just rattle off prayers as fast as possible (which is a tendency a lot of people, including myself, have).  So one could meditate on the mystery for few minutes (or seconds), then say the Our Father, the Hail Mary's and the Glory.  One would stop meditating for the prayers, just as one stops saying the prayers while they are meditating on a mystery.


This is how I always prayed the Rosary.  I found it exceptionally difficult to meditate on a particular mystery while keeping attentive during the actual prayers.  So I would stop, meditate on what a particular mystery meant (both in general and to me in particular), and then move on.
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« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2009, 04:39:25 PM »

I have a couple of questions about the western rite. I looked up these two topics online and found contradictory articles so I thought it would be best if I post my questions here to see what the answers are.

1. Do western-rite Orthodox make the sign of the cross from right-to-left shoulder or left-to-right? And how do you position your fingers when you do it?

2. What rosary do you pray? Do you pray the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries or do you add the Luminous mysteries (I don't think any Orthodox pray the Luminous mysteries because it is new and Catholic but I'm not sure so I thought I would ask anyway)? What days do you pray a certain mystery? Or do you pray the St. Seraphim of Sarov rosary when you pray all the 15 decades in one day? And how do you respond to how imagination can be dangerous and bad and that you shouldn't imagine when praying?

Our western rite is a mess. Different parishes do different things. I have profound admiration for traditional western Christianity. Unfortunately, I don't think the western rite can really be fully restored until reunion with Rome (hyper-orthodox, don't kill me).
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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2009, 04:40:12 PM »

Okay, so I'm not crazy.

Or, should I say, not that crazy.  Smiley

I think alot of concern has come from the inference (or maybe assumption on our parts?) that one meditates on the mystery while saying the prayers of the Rosary, leading one down mental rabbit-trails all the while.

Is this (what I described and you practice) the proper, or common, way of praying the Rosary?  If so, I've greatly misunderstood the Rosary for many years.
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« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2009, 05:01:08 PM »

Okay, so I'm not crazy.

Or, should I say, not that crazy.  Smiley

I think alot of concern has come from the inference (or maybe assumption on our parts?) that one meditates on the mystery while saying the prayers of the Rosary, leading one down mental rabbit-trails all the while.

Is this (what I described and you practice) the proper, or common, way of praying the Rosary?  If so, I've greatly misunderstood the Rosary for many years.
Do you only want the EO perspective on how to pray the Rosary or are you asking how its done in general in the west?
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« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2009, 05:05:24 PM »

Do you only want the EO perspective on how to pray the Rosary or are you asking how its done in general in the west?

Both, if possible.  And clarification on how it differs between the Orthodox and Roman practices.

Thanks very much!
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« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2009, 05:07:12 PM »

Do you only want the EO perspective on how to pray the Rosary or are you asking how its done in general in the west?

Both, if possible.  And clarification on how it differs between the Orthodox and Roman practices.

Thanks very much!
Well, the focus of the Rosary is usally on the Mysteries now days, however, I am not sure if that is a development or not. When I meditate on the mysteries while I pray the Rosary, I don't try to create false images or put myself in the mystery. Rather I mediate on the facts of the mystery. For example, when I meditate on the Annuciation, I meditate on the fact that God became man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and on all the implications that that has for our salvation.
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« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2009, 05:19:49 PM »

But do you meditate on the mystery while saying the prayers, or doing each in turn?

My apologies for asking such daft questions, but please understand that I'm kinda coming at this subject tabula rasa.
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« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2009, 05:21:14 PM »

But do you meditate on the mystery while saying the prayers, or doing each in turn?

My apologies for asking such daft questions, but please understand that I'm kinda coming at this subject tabula rasa.
No need to apologize. I do meditate on the mysteries while I am actually saying the words of the prayer. The words are the Letter. The mysteries are the spirit of the prayer.
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« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2009, 07:29:30 PM »

Rosary @ OrthodoxWiki.org: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Rosary. The decades presented here (and also here: http://www.westernorthodox.com/rosary.html) seem to differ a little bit from the the traditional RC ones.

Hmm. I prefer the Jesus prayer myself...simple and direct.
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« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2010, 04:06:39 PM »

From the little I can remember, the WRO churches/monasteries I've been to make the sign of the Cross the same way that is done in Eastern Rite Orthodox churches. The left-to-right, five-fingered thing was post-schism.  That said, there are some WRO parishes that do things differently. As for the Rosary, there are many forms. The way I see it, imagination and meditation isn't what it's all about. It's about prayer. It just so happens that each decade of "Rejoice, O Virgin" is coupled with a feast of the Mother of God. In an Eastern way of reciting the rosary found in "An Early Soviet Saint: The Life of Elder Zachariah," the decades are preceded with troparia for the feasts.

WRO is small, diverse, inconsistent, and very new in its modern incarnation. It's experimental as it is now, and it will take time and growth and more enlightened oversight to make it robust.
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« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2010, 04:12:45 AM »

But do you meditate on the mystery while saying the prayers, or doing each in turn?

My apologies for asking such daft questions, but please understand that I'm kinda coming at this subject tabula rasa.
I'd like to second Papist and say that the meditation is generally done while the prayers are being said. Often, a short scripture reading is said before each decade to assist in the meditation.

I personally find the rosary very difficult to pray, because the meditation is tough, although rattling off 53 Hail Mary's is easy.
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« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2010, 05:03:51 AM »

[
Do you have any sources on that? I've read somewhere on this forum that the original way was left-to-right and it was changed by the Eastern Orthodox at the time of the crusades, because the EO wanted to show that they were different from the Latin crusaders. And the fact that all the Oriental Orthodox and the Assyrians do it left-to-right seems to confirm that. Any way, I prefer right-to-left. Wink

If you look at message 27 in this thread

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19362.msg351155.html#msg351155

we see that even the Catholic Encyclopedia confirms that the Eastern Orthodox way is the ancient way and that Rome itself was using this way, at least until the time of the schism.
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« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2014, 11:16:11 PM »

I don't know if posting a comment in an old thread is frowned upon (in one online forum I inhabit, it's called "thread necromancy" and results in a warning then a week-long kick); if it, I'm sorry.

One question I have about the Western Rite is why it doesn't seem like any Anglican converts haven't seem to have brought their tradition of the Anglican prayer beads with them. When discussing what Western Orthodox use to pray, it seems to me that only the rosary (or perhaps even the komboskini) is brought up. Do any Western Orthodox here pray with the aid of the Anglican prayer beads instead of either of the two forms of prayer facilitators?
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« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2014, 11:43:52 PM »

tradition of the Anglican prayer beads
For those of us who have never been in the Anglican church, could you explain what this tradition is? The only time I've ever heard of a distinct Anglican version was in this YouTube video I saw once about the "Anglican rosary" which consisted of taking a rosary and then using the beads to pray whatever prayer you happen to feel like. If that's the "tradition of the Anglican prayer beads", I'm not surprised it didn't make it into Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2014, 12:08:50 AM »

tradition of the Anglican prayer beads
For those of us who have never been in the Anglican church, could you explain what this tradition is? The only time I've ever heard of a distinct Anglican version was in this YouTube video I saw once about the "Anglican rosary" which consisted of taking a rosary and then using the beads to pray whatever prayer you happen to feel like. If that's the "tradition of the Anglican prayer beads", I'm not surprised it didn't make it into Orthodoxy.

At least in my brief experiences with Anglicans (just visits to a few middle-church Anglican neighborhood parishes, and Saint Paul's on K Street of Washington, D.C. EDIT: oh and also Westminster Cathedral—that was nice!), I've always seen this. A bead store my Mother frequents sells them, so I've held them once or twice. However, their corresponding informational packets on its history and how to pray with it have never mentioned how old it is. Turns out that it's only from the mid-1980's and thus the Western revival of the Church predates it. I thought the practice was much older. You're right, that is definitely why it never made it into the Western Rites: it's not even remotely old enough.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2014, 12:19:00 AM by KostaC » Logged

«Μὴ μεριμνᾶτε λοιπὸν διὰ τὴν αὔριον, διὀτι ἡ αὐριανὴ ἡμέρα θὰ φροντίσῃ διὰ τὰ δικά της πράγματα. Φθάνει ἡ στεναχώρια τῆς ἡμέρας». Κατά Ματθαίον 6:34
Tags: sign of the Cross rosary 
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