I keep my prayer rope in my pocket. When I use it, I arrange my day to prevent being disturbed or having interuptions.
When people do see me using it despite my best attempts to not be disturbed, they do ask questions and of course I will answer them. But I would not wear my prayer rope 'out in the open' as I would a belt or my shoes.
But that's just me. Other people may be called to do other things.
This seems to me to be the best approach to artifacts of the spiritual life. Wearing a cross, to me, is a bit like wearing a habit. But neither the cross nor the habit is a fashion statement as such. The same should apply to implements of prayer and contemplation. Not only that but our prayer lives should not be "warn on our sleeves" so to speak.
Would you say that it would be ok for people to wear a cross around the neck, but keep it hidden under their shirts? This is what a lot of the Greeks at my parish do.
I was raised up in the Carmelite tradition where one does not display the fact that theirs is explicitly and formally a vocation of unceasing prayer.
However, I often will wrap a prayer rope around my wrist in a way that it sort of disappears into my sleeve. I take it out where there is a moment and do not try to hide the fact that I am praying...if that would serve to draw more attention to me.
I didn't know that about Carmelite nuns. How exactly do they hide their vocation? I would assume that they still wear habits, but hide objects for prayer, like rosaries.
Those things are a matter of good judgment...I was once on a bus from NY to PA where there happened to be a group of Carmelite nuns. They quietly chanted the office of Vespers. It was very beautiful and you could hear a pin drop in the rest of the bus. That silence hung around a long time after they had finished.
As to the wearing of a rosary around the neck? I would discourage it and particularly since it is often done by those whose lives are torn by sin in a very active way. Implements of prayer should never be used or seen as a talisman.
I agree with both of these paragraphs.
The reference here to Carmelites is to lay Carmelites and third order nuns. First order are the friars. Second order are the cloistered nuns who have very little trouble hiding from the world
....and my reference was to tertiaries who are either religious or lay. For the religious tertiaries think: affiliate religious communities in Carmelite spirituality. You would not find cloistered nuns riding a bus...except in very unusual circumstances. I didn't note all that when I was writing the first note so thanks for the questions.
As for the cross? I would say that for the layman or woman it is best to keep the cross hidden...not buried, but not worn so as to be mistaken for a piece of jewelery. I wear a three bar cross and I don't try to hide it but I don't wear it out on top of my clothing either...so generally you can see I wear a cross in the summertime and in the winter it tends to be more hidden. I carry my prayer rope on my wrist in an easy way so as not to draw attention. I carry a brown scapular on my person...from time to time. But no one ever sees it. Sometimes I don't even see it...meaning it's moved on to some other soul good enough to pick it up from where I dropped it...God willing.
A nun or priest or monk or hieararch can wear symbols of the faith in an outward way more readily because when combined with a habit or clerical garb the symbols are less likely to be viewed as fashion statements.
I live as a hermit, for example, but I don't adopt a habit of any kind. What I do is tend simply to dress in monochrome browns, greens or dark blues in fall and winter, or white or moss greens in the summer. Never any make-up. Hair short and neat...I try to keep it neat anyway. I cut my own hair. Now and then a stranger on the street will size me up and down and ask "Are you a nun?"...I generally laugh and say "Not yet"....So what you are comes out very often without large signs or wonders...