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Using a prayer rope


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#1 Guest_Baroness

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Posted 10 March 2006 - 04:58 AM

I've just got a quick question - seeing it's Lent, I'm just reading through "The Way of a Pilgrim" and also trying to use a prayer rope (again). I find it actually easier to use Catholic rosary beads, than a prayer rope to say the Jesus Prayer. Is this wrong to use a rosary? (Please excuse me if you're Catholic ... but I've taken off the three beads that lead up to the circle, then just re-attached the crucifix there, so it's simply a circle of beads, rather than the circle of beads with the end tail, if that makes sense). My apologies for such a stupid question.


#2 Guest_Klod

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Posted 10 March 2006 - 08:21 AM

Baroness,

the slavic orthodox countries use wooden prayer ropes, what they call chotkis. They are very similar to catholic rosaries. Click here for a ful list online.



There is nothing wrong using a wooden prayer rope.


#3 Olympiada

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 04:43 AM

My understanding is that the Rosary and the Jesus Prayer are entirely different prayers. I would not recommend mixing them up.


#4 Fr Seraphim (Black)

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 01:45 PM

Permit me to say a few poor words on this topic, from a strictly monastic view-point. First, the chotka (in Slavonic) is it but an aid.

But it does have a symbolic and ascetical form.

When a monastic first takes off the 'clothes of this world' and dons the monastic habit (type and extent of which depend on the monastery proper), the monastic upon entering the first rung, the first stage (again in the Slavonic, not Greek tradition) receives from his or her Spiritual Father/Mother a prayer rope (as it is commonly termed, in English).

This is likened unto the mantle of Elijah passing to Elisha. A simple hand-woven substance which has been in the Spiritual Fahter/Mothers' possession for a period of time.

The implication being that the prayer rope has been used by the Spiritual Father/Mother, in prayer and thus being not a new prayer rope, but one which has been utilized in ascetic endeavour and prayer.

There is no co-relation between the Rosary as used in the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Prayer Rope. Devoid of the Roman Catholic imaginative meditations on the journey of Jesus to His Crucifixtion, simple stones have been utilized in the past up to this day.

As part of the monastic cell rule - that which he/she performs before the Midnight Office, the Hours, the Divine Liturgy, it is incumbent on the monastic to do a certain number of prostrations (depending on health) before the monastic even enters the Church proper.

To ward off sleep, amongst other things, the Jesus Prayer is counted, with prostrations, utilizing the Prayer Rope, again without meditative reflections on the journey of Jesus - that is to say, no imaginative function should take place.

For a ryassophor, for a Small Schema (only in Slavic usage) and for a Monk of the Great Schema, there is seen a steady increase in number, that is, in the prostrations and the keeping count using the Prayer Rope.

For a Monk/Nun blessed to be clothed in the Great Schema, there is a basic minimum of prostrations, which are generally (due to the number) spread out during the day. It does demand an ascetic effort to complete the basic requirement - let there be no doubt.

It is not an exercise. The mind/heart is joined to the Jesus Prayer, the prostrations, though difficult at first, prove to be an impetus, an aid in the deepening of the Prayer. The Orthodox Christian prays with his/her body. He/she undertakes the Great Fast with his/her body. It is the totality of the human entity.

By God's grace, if a time comes, when the Spiritual Mother/Father passes on this mantle, it is no small passage of one woolen/wooden/stone Prayer Rope.

It is the very ascetic effort of the Spiritual Mother/Father, by God's grace, transformed into to Prayer, even tears shed for humankind, which are passed in this Sacred Ceremony.


#5 Guest_Eugenia

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 03:39 PM

Thank you Fr. Seraphim for the beautiful explanation of the prayer rope. I,too, have read the Way of the Pilgrim just recently and understand a bit more about the Jesus prayer. I am also interested in the prostrations that we do during Great Lent. What is the best way to approach this vital spiritual exercise in any Orthodox service if one has a chronic back issue and problems with arthritis. I try each year to do what I can..but last year I could only get down and kneel, staying in that position, until the Prayer of St. Ephrem was completed. Each year it gets more difficult and I always feel inadequate in doint the prostrations but being unable to do them completely and throught out the fast. What should I do? I have not spoken with my Parish priest yet. Thank you so much for your information regarding the prayer rope. My family came from Romania and I have been aware of its use..but not at the depth it is utilized today. God bless, Eugenia


#6 Guest_Aleksandar Zatezalo

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 04:25 PM

I also found Fr. Seraphim explanation very deep and touching, but if you are not a monk and you just made your own prayer rope out of catholic rosary then I would say as follows:

Prayer rope (chomboschini=chotki=brojanica) is a tool that helps us to concentrate and confine our thoughts on Jesus prayer. It is not compulsory. We can do it even without one, but since are thoughts are so scattered, going on with Jesus prayer without a prayer rope is very difficult even impossible. Each of the knots on the prayer rope returns and focuses our thoughts to the Jesus prayer again and again. So if you are using rosary (or in your case prayer rope made not from wool but amber or wood) for Jesus prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner) and not for Roman Catholic rosary cycles of prayers, then it makes sense.

Best.
Aleksandar


#7 Fr Seraphim (Black)

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 06:50 PM

Dear Eugenia,

Doame ajuta!

It is really the inner heart that matters, not the quality. Rest at peace. Even in monastic communities great economia is excercised.

As for the Prayer of St. Ephrem, what is it saying, what is it conveying to our heart?

Any Lent is not just prostrations, or fasting, without regard to health considerations. Lack of health is already 'fasting' and 'prostations.'

Lent must be an effort. Of this we can be certain. But if we turn up at the services, the most we can, battling traffic etc.

Simply put, living as we do, in this post Christian society is enough to make the strong bend.

IF, we can keep our Faith, our Orthodoxy, if we can pray for others, what else does our Lord command?

"LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF."

We NEVER measure up, this is the BLESSED road to humility.

Precious is this road, beloved of the saints and martyrs, and all the countless unknown who toiled in modern times just to make one Presanctified, one Holy Friday...finally it is the beat of our heart that matters.

Are we struggling to be in tune with Christ's breath, word, example, his UTTER compassion?

In the face of this North American society, that is a HEAVY CROSS. Bear it with humility. Bear it with inner tears.


#8 Guest_Anna

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 06:13 PM

Thank you, Father Seraphim, for this post.

Anna


#9 Guest_Klod

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 12:48 PM

I thought Baroness was asking whether she can use a rosary type of beaded prayer rope, instead of a one traditionally tied prayer rope to say Jesus prayer!


The answer is yes. Wooden prayer ropes, made up of beads (wooden etc), can be used as well.



I remember in the life of Fr. Cleopas, there is a story when a monk encountered a deceased monk (saint) in the Forest, who gave him some advice about his unburried body. The monk saw the saint on top of a tree carrying in his hands a wooden prayer rope.



I myself use e wooden prayer rope, because when I cut my nails I become allergic to wool for two or three days and then I use again a woollen prayer rope, which I made myself.


#10 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 09:14 PM

I thought Baroness was asking whether she can use a rosary type of beaded prayer rope, instead of a one traditionally tied prayer rope to say Jesus prayer!

The answer is yes. Wooden prayer ropes, made up of beads (wooden etc), can be used as well.


The knotted, cotton or wool prayer rope, while the most common in Orthodox tradition, is certainly not the only form of the prayer rope traditional in Orthodox heritage. There is, for example, a popular Russian form made out of a centimetre-wide strip of leather, into which are sewn perpendicular strips of metal (sometimes known as a 'ladder' rope, based on its visual appearance); and prayer ropes with in-sewn wooden beads have been common in various parts of the world. I've seen prayer ropes made out of twine, and one made of chain.

The form is less important than the use. The cotton/wool/flax form that is most commonly known is popular because, unlike some (but not all) wooden or glass forms, it is quiet - there is no rattle of beads that can become a distraction in prayer (especially in monasteries).

INXC, Matthew

#11 Guest_Baroness

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 10:35 PM

Yes, that simply was my question whether I can use a "rosary type of beaded prayer rope, instead of a one traditionally tied prayer rope to say Jesus prayer!" And I want to thank you all for your helpful and also beautiful posts. Glory to God, I have begun trying to say the Jesus Prayer, using the beaded prayer rope, saying 50 "Lord have mercy's" at a time. 50 is better than nothing at all ... may God help me.


#12 Guest_Eugenia

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 10:59 PM

Dear Fr. Seraphim,

Thank you so much for your beautifully written response to my question about prostrations. I can see that I have missed the whole point..it is the humility and sincerity that is important. I will think carefully about your kind response and continue to work towards humility. A blessed Lenten journey! Caci cu noi este Dumnezeu.(God is with us!) Eugenia


#13 Fr Seraphim (Black)

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:53 AM

Dear Eugenia,

May our Lord and His Most Pure Mother protect you and your loved ones.

Actually, it is my own duhovnik who many years ago told me the words, which I simply passed on to you.

I have been blessed with illness all my monastic life. As such, certainly at first, I felt very unmonastic since all the monks were prostrating right, left and centre (as we say) and I was struggling to get up from the first one!

Thanks be to God that I was given such a loving Spiritual Father. He was so compassionate, patient and loving. So unlike myself, sorry to say.

With his words, which became for me, living words, life-giving words, I was able to struggle on and not give up the way God had directed me and I had willingly accepted. But believe me, I endured strong temptations due to the limits illness put upon me.

It was only his words, God's grace (in his words) and with time, that I found something of the monastic way. As an added bonus, I met such incredible monks and nuns along the way. True treasures, true examples of what is possible and what God grants.

It took time and many tears to realize that my own state was blessed as well.


#14 Joe C.

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 11:31 PM

Klod:
I would be very interested in how you were able to work with wool to make your own prayer rope. The woolen yarn I purchased at the craft store was so difficult to use because it kept pulling apart as I would try to tighten the knots. Any tips or advice would be much appreciated.
Thank you.

#15 Theopesta

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 11:15 PM

I think this site is helpful

http://www.wattfamil.../prayerope.html

in ONE CHRIST,Theopesta

#16 Will D.

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 02:30 AM

I'm so glad somebody started this thread on prayer ropes. This was the first I had heard of a chotki. I like it much better than a prayer rope. In fact, I liked the idea so much, that I went to the local hobby store and bought the supplies to make my own. It was pretty simple, only took a few minutes to make, and I'm very happy with the results.
Posted Image

For about a $15 investment in supplies, I can make about three, 50-bead, chotkis.

#17 Kris

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 01:10 PM

Peace,

Prayer, like pretty much everything else in life, is an issue one must consult with one's spiritual father. Not everyone should use a prayer rope; its something that depends on the individual.

With regards to the rosary, I don't think it matters whether one uses wood, metal, rope or plastic, as long as it does what it's supposed to. So if you wish to use a rosary to pray the Jesus prayer, I can't see anything wrong with it.

However, actually praying the rosary is a totally different thing from the Jesus Prayer. Saying the "Hail Mary" in groups of 10, with the Lord's Prayer between each decade cannot replace the practice of reciting the Jesus Prayer.

That's not to say it does not have value in itself. I know St. Seraphim of Sarov used to tell his nuns (the ones who were not able to memorise long prayer rules) to say a certain number of the "Virgin Theotokos" (which only differs slightly from the Catholic version), saying the Lord's Prayer after every 10. So its a perfectly acceptable practice in and of itself, but does not replace the Jesus Prayer.

But consult your Spiritual Father, since this is not something you should take up by yourself.

Please pray for me, a sinner.

#18 Phoebe K.

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 01:40 PM

I have been given a prayer rope by my catacist at my entry into the catachuminate but I have no idea how to use it. I know that I am supposed to use the Jesus prayer with a prayer rope, but I would apreacate some advice on the practicalities of how to.

Phoebe

#19 Father Stephanos

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 08:36 PM

I have been given a prayer rope by my catacist at my entry into the catachuminate but I have no idea how to use it. I know that I am supposed to use the Jesus prayer with a prayer rope, but I would apreacate some advice on the practicalities of how to.

Phoebe

Dear Phoebe,


Welcome!


There are different sizes and kinds of prayer ropes, and they are used in different ways.

What you ask is too cumbersome to explicate over the internet, and it should be done face to face with the person teaching you.


Initially, you should ask your parish priest about this matter.


I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,

+ Father Stephanos



#20 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 08:54 PM

May I add that the practice of the Jesus Prayer should not be done without a blessing. According to Elder Sophrony it is not for everyone.




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