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Thoughts, lessons, and theology from an eclectic witch from a varied background.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Prayer Beads - Catholic and Anglican Style + Filianism.

When someone mentions the Rosary, the first thought most people have is of the Catholic five decade rosaries. While this is an extremely common style of prayer beads, there is alternate sets that are used by people of Christian denominations and people who are influenced by their prayer practices.[1] A comparatively late addition to the body of work that is prayer tools, the Anglican style Rosary is built upon two prior practices. The use of the Pater Noster beads (a set of thirty three or fifty beads used to recite the Our Father prayer) goes back into antiquity. Indeed, the term for prayers at one point was 'bide your beads' and there is one influential Christian of English origin whose name is known for his prayers (the venerable Bede). The Pater Noster beads were used for the lay people to imitate and integrate the practices of religious orders in their lives.

Largely illiterate, most of the laity of these early eras did not have the ability to recite all one hundred and fifty Psalms (which was the practice of monks and nuns in this time period) on a daily basis. The majority of the laity did not know the Psalms or have time to recite them if they did. Thus, the Pater Noster beads were developed to allow these people to recite the Our Father prayer fifty times and incorporate a similar devotional practice to what the clergy and religious orders did. The Pater Noster beads were also used to recite the Jesus Prayer. (This was a recitation of the invocation of Jesus's mercy upon they who were praying thirty three times - this being the number of years that Christian lore says Jesus lived.)

The Catholic Rosary was developed for similar reasons. This was structured for there to be five to fifteen sets of ten beads divided by spacer beads between each set, with a medallion where the first and last decades meet and a terminal set of beads (usually three) that ends with a cross or crucifix that hang from the medallion. The five decade set of beads is used to pray one of the three sets of five holy mysteries of the Catholic faith at a single session. It can also be used in three repetitions to pray all three sets, which the fifteen decade is designed to cover in a single session. The fifteen decade Catholic Rosary is also recite all one hundred and fifty of the Psalms of the Christian bible.

The Anglican Rosary combines elements of the Pater Noster beads and the Catholic Rosary. The Anglican Rosary has thirty three beads divided up into four groups of seven with four cruciform beads, an introductory prayer bead, and a cross for the terminal charm. The physical structure of the Anglican Rosary is obviously influenced by the Catholic Rosary. The litany of prayers used for the Anglican Rosary is varied. The Anglican Rosary can be used as the Pater Noster beads have in the past or one can devise their own prayers for meditation with them. The prayer tradition for the Anglican Rosary is clearly a modern one that is evolving as time passes, whilst rooted in the practices of antiquity.

For a Filianist, the prayer practices of the Catholic and the Anglican believers are quite similar in structure. This is because as the prayer practices of the Filianic community were becoming established, they were heavily influenced by the Christian environment they were steeped in. In many cases the Filianic rosary is identical to a Catholic Christian one because it is a Catholic rosary that has a Filianic oriented terminal (such as a star or a rose). Adapting the prayers of the Christian prayers is something that is underway in several Filianic groups. Others are at work on developing prayers unique for the Filianic worshiper. Regardless of the set of beads used, the structure of the prayers are all focused towards bringing the worshiper into a contemplative state that encourages meditation and connection with the Divine.

I, personally, have used the Filianic equivalents to the Catholic rosary prayers in my use of the Rosary beads I have. I mainly use them with my five decade set of beads. I have also used them with my fifteen decade set of beads. Praying the fifteen decade rosary is a commitment of time, however, for it takes me about forty five minutes to an hour of uninterrupted time. With small children in my house, I generally don't have that kind of time free most of the time, thus I reserve this devotion for when it is a special occasion or significant need. Since receiving a set of beads that are patterned after the Anglican style Rosary, I have found that my time for prayer is more streamlined by virtue of the fact that I am completing the circuit of the beads with less volume of prayers recited.

When I am praying with these beads, I have used the combination of the Our Mother prayer, the Daughter prayer, and the Gloria. On the invitatiory bead, I recite my statement of faith. This is usually the Filianic creed or an abridged version of this. I also recite the Gloria and the Our Mother prayer at this time. As I progress through the week beads, I recite the Daughter prayer. When I reach the first cruciform bead, I recite the Gloria and the Our Mother. I progress through the set in this fashion where I alternate between the week beads and the cruciform bead prayers. When I reach the fourth cruciform bead, I recite the Gloria, the Our Mother, and the Hail Holy Queen prayer.

I am presently at work on developing a set of prayers for the Anglican inspired prayer bead set. One of these sets of prayers is focused upon the Janyati/Angels. While some would object to making this a focus, it really is only a logical extension. A prayer for each of the Janyati said for each of the week beads is perhaps something that requires a bit more attention than reciting the same prayer for each bead. This, however, is not a bad thing. For the Scriptures teach that the Janyati are also faces of Dea in their own special fashion. It is my belief that they are then also worthy of devotion as well.

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1. I am writing from a predominantly Western perspective. I recognize that there are prayer beads from around the world. I've written a little bit about them, even. Still, I am coming at this from the angle of someone who is within an over-culture that is primarily nominally Christian and has a broad history that is heavily influenced by Christianity.

3 comments:

  1. What is a Filianist? My inquiring mind wants to know as I have never heard the word before this time. I have been making RC and Anglican style rosaries for awhile now (I am a beader and really enjoy making these in quality materials, ie. sterling, Swarovskis, etc. This in itself is a meditative practice as I dedicate my time to Athena Ergane and Hephaestos.)

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  2. I have a bit of information about my experiences with Filianism at the link below. (It is a little dated, but I will be posting more recent information soon.) A good site to go to for information about orthodox Filianism is A Chapel of Our Mother God at www.mother-god.com .

    Here is the link to my earlier blog post:
    http://veiledwitch.blogspot.com/2015/04/polytheist-following-monotheistic-deity.html

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