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Author Topic: rosary and prayer rope  (Read 1744 times) Average Rating: 0
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Victoria
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« on: May 11, 2011, 06:06:55 PM »

I wonder what exactly is the difference between rosary and prayer rope because OC frown on the rosary but yet the prayer rope seem to have the same purpose? Yes, i know that prayer rope is used mostly for Jesus prayer and rosary you say number of different prayers including Apost Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, etc. which i don't see anything wrong with either? Any info is appreciated
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2011, 11:25:43 AM »

Most Orthodox peoples objections to the Rosary have nothing to do with the prayers.  It has to do with the "mysteries" that one is supposed to meditate upon while reciting the prayers.

Please note that the word "mysteries" in this context is very different from our usage of the term "Mystery" or "Mysteries" when referring to what might also be called a "Sacrament" (ie. Baptism, Holy Communion, etc.).  In the context of the Rosary, a "mystery" is an event in the life of Christ, His mother, or the Church, which one mulls over in their mind.  I'm not exactly sure what the precise explanation is since I was never a member of the Roman Church, but I think that's the gist of it.

What is repeatedly warned against, rejected and condemned in the writings of the Fathers is the use of imagination in prayer.  When we pray the Jesus Prayer, what we are to focus our minds on is the meaning of the words of the Jesus Prayer - "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner".  Simply, we stay focused on what we are praying, rather than letting our minds wander about, even if it is within a paticularly pious subject like one of the Rosary mysteries.

That's why some people say the Jesus Prayer faster than others.  What you need to do is find a pace that is fast enough that it doesn't let your mind wander in between prayers, and yet slow enough that your mind doesn't wander away while you're pronouncing the Jesus Prayer and not thinking about it, like some sort of mantra.  Rest assured though, finding that "in between" and keeping your mind focused is hard work!

Plus, any other stuff that gets mentioned in things like the Philokalia are usually for far more advanced monastics than any of us.  If you ever do read the Philokalia (or excerpts from it) remember that the term "beginner" or "novice" there means someone who has recently been tonsured into the Great Schema and started living as a monastic hermit!  It is most definitely not you or me!

Now, I know there are some Western Rite Orthodox who make use of the Rosary, but I'd have to let them speak as to how they reconcile it with the prohibition of imagination in prayer.  My guess would be that they would somehow distinguish between meditation and imagination, but I'm not sure exactly how that would work.  I know some pray the Rosary sans mysteries, which seems a perfectly good idea to me.  I also know that some WR types are thoroughly opposed to the practice.  Nonetheless, I should refrain from putting words in their mouths.  Hopefully they'll be along shortly to speak for themselves, and I offer them my apologies in advance if I've misrepresented anything.
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2011, 11:47:12 AM »

IMO, one can say the rosary without any imagination, just as one prays anything else. Essentially, all it is is 150 "Rejoice, O Virgin" prayers. I don't think it's necessary to add even meditations to it. It's better to concentrate on the words of the prayer, IMO.
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2011, 12:14:47 PM »

IMO, one can say the rosary without any imagination, just as one prays anything else. Essentially, all it is is 150 "Rejoice, O Virgin" prayers. I don't think it's necessary to add even meditations to it. It's better to concentrate on the words of the prayer, IMO.

This rule is essentially what was used and is advised by St. Seraphim of Sarov for the rosary. This was recorded in a letter of Fr. Alexander Gumanovsky, a spiritual grandson of St. Seraphim, as it was given to him by his spiritual father. The appropriate exerpt from this letter can be found here.

I think it's quite a beautiful rule, and encourage any Orthodox who is drawn to the rosary to utilize this rule passed down to us from St. Seraphim.
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2011, 12:33:52 PM »

IMO, one can say the rosary without any imagination, just as one prays anything else. Essentially, all it is is 150 "Rejoice, O Virgin" prayers. I don't think it's necessary to add even meditations to it. It's better to concentrate on the words of the prayer, IMO.

Just a thought here:  The meditations of the Rosary are not fanciful imaginaries.    The meditations of the Rosary are a kind of lectio divina, where one takes a passage of Scripture or a story in Scripture and brings it to heart and mind.  It is not intended to be a long drawn out "story" made up by human imagination, divorced from the actual Word.

As I understand it, Orthodoxy allows for and in some cases encourages what the Latin Church calls Lectio Divina.

M.
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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2011, 12:37:22 PM »

IMO, one can say the rosary without any imagination, just as one prays anything else. Essentially, all it is is 150 "Rejoice, O Virgin" prayers. I don't think it's necessary to add even meditations to it. It's better to concentrate on the words of the prayer, IMO.

This rule is essentially what was used and is advised by St. Seraphim of Sarov for the rosary. This was recorded in a letter of Fr. Alexander Gumanovsky, a spiritual grandson of St. Seraphim, as it was given to him by his spiritual father. The appropriate exerpt from this letter can be found here.

I think it's quite a beautiful rule, and encourage any Orthodox who is drawn to the rosary to utilize this rule passed down to us from St. Seraphim.

One thought here: The article refers to the Rosary as a complete devotion to the Mother of God.  That is true but it is not all that the Rosary is or is intended to be. 

When a Roman rite Catholic is taught to say the rosary, they are taught to see Jesus presented to us through the highlights of the life of his mother, whose life was devoted to her son, the Son of God.  The focus of the rosary is Jesus through Mary.
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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2011, 01:10:53 PM »

IMO, one can say the rosary without any imagination, just as one prays anything else. Essentially, all it is is 150 "Rejoice, O Virgin" prayers. I don't think it's necessary to add even meditations to it. It's better to concentrate on the words of the prayer, IMO.

Just a thought here:  The meditations of the Rosary are not fanciful imaginaries.    The meditations of the Rosary are a kind of lectio divina, where one takes a passage of Scripture or a story in Scripture and brings it to heart and mind.  It is not intended to be a long drawn out "story" made up by human imagination, divorced from the actual Word.

As I understand it, Orthodoxy allows for and in some cases encourages what the Latin Church calls Lectio Divina.

M.

We don't prohibit just fanciful imaginations or stories or elaborations during prayer, but any imagination or mental pictures at all.

I don't know a ton about the rosary, though I did pray it a few times early in my conversion. But even if it doesn't explicitly call for picturing the particular mystery or bible story in your mind, for me at least, that would be very difficult to do.

Coming back to the Orthodox context and Orthodox usage of the Rosary: Especially for those who are not advanced and have little control over their thoughts, it's better to simply avoid the temptation altogether. Just because St Seraphim used the Rosary, or some other saint used some other prayer or technique (hesychasm, etc), doesn't mean it's right or good for John and Jane Laymen to do it.
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« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2011, 01:31:34 PM »


We don't prohibit just fanciful imaginations or stories or elaborations during prayer, but any imagination or mental pictures at all.

I don't know a ton about the rosary, though I did pray it a few times early in my conversion. But even if it doesn't explicitly call for picturing the particular mystery or bible story in your mind, for me at least, that would be very difficult to do.

Coming back to the Orthodox context and Orthodox usage of the Rosary: Especially for those who are not advanced and have little control over their thoughts, it's better to simply avoid the temptation altogether. Just because St Seraphim used the Rosary, or some other saint used some other prayer or technique (hesychasm, etc), doesn't mean it's right or good for John and Jane Laymen to do it.

I understand what you are saying here.  There a priest-monk, Orthodox, that I talk to now and then, several of them actually, because I live the life of an avowed hermit and so we talk about spiritual things.

One of the things we talk about is this business of meditation in prayer, and it was from them that I learned this distinction between fantasy and the contemplation of Scripture and holy images.  So I am not saying that you are wrong.  But I am saying that you perhaps are being a bit too strong in what you say here.

Again, as you say, it depends on the person who is praying.  Some people cannot use descriptive words or images at all without falling into the realm of fantasy and that is indeed a dangerous place to be.  So if you don't have a spiritual mother or father to help guide you, then it is best, as you say to avoid all images in prayer.  

It is a good thing that you don't need to mediate on Scripture in order to pray the rosary.  You can eliminate those reflections on Scripture totally and still pray fruitfully.

Mary

PS: I just remembered something as well and went and checked and in the glossary of the Philokalia there is a distinction made between Holy Images and fantasy. 

Also the use of words or icons to rest ones mind in prayer is generally used for beginners and generally then set aside as one becomes more proficient in prayer.  I don't think this applies to only those in monastic life but also for laity...Still is good to have a spiritual guide in such things.
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2011, 03:05:29 PM »

We don't prohibit just fanciful imaginations or stories or elaborations during prayer, but any imagination or mental pictures at all.

I may be wrong, but are you sure we cannot picture even a known event in the life of Christ, such as Him carrying the Cross? Why would this not further my devotion?

I can't help but think of the expression, "Don't think about polar bears!" This, of course, immediately makes you think about polar bears.  Huh
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2011, 04:15:46 PM »

One thought here: The article refers to the Rosary as a complete devotion to the Mother of God.  That is true but it is not all that the Rosary is or is intended to be. 

When a Roman rite Catholic is taught to say the rosary, they are taught to see Jesus presented to us through the highlights of the life of his mother, whose life was devoted to her son, the Son of God.  The focus of the rosary is Jesus through Mary.

Of course. This must be the truth in any rule of prayer to any saint. The saints are saints because they are in Christ, we are united to them only through Christ, and in venerating them, we venerate Christ Who has sanctified them.
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2011, 04:30:11 PM »

One thought here: The article refers to the Rosary as a complete devotion to the Mother of God.  That is true but it is not all that the Rosary is or is intended to be. 

When a Roman rite Catholic is taught to say the rosary, they are taught to see Jesus presented to us through the highlights of the life of his mother, whose life was devoted to her son, the Son of God.  The focus of the rosary is Jesus through Mary.

Of course. This must be the truth in any rule of prayer to any saint. The saints are saints because they are in Christ, we are united to them only through Christ, and in venerating them, we venerate Christ Who has sanctified them.

What you've said here is formulaic [because it is axiomatic] and it is excellent. 

The element that leaps out at me is the part where you say "we are united to them only through Christ..."   

I think it is something that is not well understood by many:  that we venerate the saints in large part because we seek to emulate them in their path to Christ, but without Christ we cannot begin to seek to venerate the saints.  So when we pray a rosary to that greatest of all saints, we cannot even begin to think of that prayer without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that comes through Christ.

It's a beautiful gift to be brought to prayer on such a sacred breath...

At any rate, thank you for this thought.
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2011, 08:03:58 PM »

Now, I know there are some Western Rite Orthodox who make use of the Rosary, but I'd have to let them speak as to how they reconcile it with the prohibition of imagination in prayer.  My guess would be that they would somehow distinguish between meditation and imagination, but I'm not sure exactly how that would work.

Draw near all of you, children of the Church, 
bought with the precious and holy blood of the most pure Master.

Come, let us meditate on his sufferings with tears, 
thinking on fear, meditating with trembling,
 saying to ourselves,
 ‘Christ our Saviour for us the impious was given over to death’.

Learn well, brother, what it is you hear:
 God who is without sin, Son of the Most High, 
for you was given up.

Open your heart, learn in details His sufferings and say to yourself: 

God who is without sin 
today was given up,

today was mocked,

today was abused,

today was struck,

today was scourged,

today wore a crown of thorns,

today was crucified,

he, the heavenly Lamb.


Your heart will tremble, your soul will shudder. 
Shed tears everyday by this meditation on the Master's sufferings. 
Tears become sweet (for) the soul is enlightened that always meditates on Christ's sufferings.

Always meditating thus, shedding tears every day,
 giving thanks to the Master for the sufferings that he suffered for you,
 so that in the day of his Coming your tears may become your boast and exaltation before the judgment seat.

Endure as you meditate on the loving Master’s sufferings,
 endure temptations, give thanks from your soul.

Blessed is the one who has before his eyes 
the heavenly Master and his sufferings,
 and has crucified himself from all the passions 
and earthly deeds,
who has become an imitator
 of his own Master.
-St. Ephraim the Syrian


[L]et us not merely read of these things, but bear them in our mind; the crown of thorns, the robe, the reed, the blows, the smiting on the cheek, the spittings, the irony. These things, if continually meditated on, are sufficient to take down all anger.
— St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. John (Homily 84)

Try to know yourself, your own wickedness. Think on the greatness of God and your wretchedness. Meditate on the suffering of Christ, the magnitude of Whose love and suffering surpass our understanding.
— St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, "A Spiritual Treasure"


These quote have more to do with, perhaps, our Stations of the Cross devotion (which, interestingly enough, often gets derided for the same reasons as the Rosary is) but they shed light on the fact that the use of our mental faculties (meditation, imagination, whatever you want to call it) actually do have a place, even in an "Eastern" Orthodox context.

Those of us who pray a Rosary are doing exactly what these Saints admonish us to do, which is to bear these wonderful mysteries in our minds, to actually spend time meditating upon them, entering into them, and being changed by them, so that we may, as Chrysostom put it, "take away all anger."
« Last Edit: May 12, 2011, 08:07:17 PM by Sleeper » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2011, 11:51:27 AM »

Hi all,

New to the forum but had a quick browse and saw this :]

Im not sure on all the scripture and rules and all the other things but we orthodox Christians in the Holy Land use both Prayer rope and Rosary in fact it is unusual to see someone who is over 30 without prayer beads or a mishaba in arabic as we call it. Do not get it confused with the mishaba that the Muslims use however....

We usually say prayers on such Rosary or prayer beads asking God to bless us and our Homes or asking forgiveness.
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