Archive for February, 2008

the-scream.pngThis week, I have been thinking a lot about silence. It has been a week split between long days at home alone with my dog, Bella, and the computer and a weekend of raucus fun with girlfriends at a knitting convention that attracted thousands of people. In the first part of the week there was silence so deep I could hear Bella’s stomach rumble, and in the second part of the week my throat was sore from shouting above the common noise. At the end of the week, it struck me that we need both kinds of days – ones in which we can hear nothing but the rhythms of our own heart and ones in which we can hear nothing but the voices of others. The key is how to strike the right balance. If anyone figures that out, drop me a line. In the meantime, this week I am offering up a set of Lenten prayers for prayer beads on the joint themes of silence and sound.

Below you will find the prayers laid out for the Anglican/Episcopal form of prayer beads. It is a simpler set of prayer beads than the Catholic rosary. But these prayers can be said on any set of prayer beads. If you are using a Catholic rosary, say the prayers marked On the Weeks/Decade Beads ten times instead of seven, and apply them to the three Hail Mary beads on the rosary’s stem, too.  For the second Our Father bead, you can recite the prayer for the Cruciform/Our Father beads an extra time, or any prayer of your choosing. And when you get to the medal of the rosary, you can say any prayer you like – either one found here or another that you know.

If you are using another form of prayer beads – a Buddhist or Hindu mala, an Islamic subha, a set of Pearls of Life or some other form you have created and strung for yourself, you can compose these prayers in any order that suits you. It does not matter what you pray, only that you pray.  I recommend that you say your prayer beads three times around before returning to its stem and exiting with a final prayer on the cross, crucifix or any other terminal charm you have.
Sources: The Invitatory/First Our Father Bead prayer is from Psalm 102. The Cruciform/Our Father Beads prayer was written by Pere Jean Nicholas Grou (1731-1803), a Jesuit priest, and is printed in 2000 Years of Prayer compiled by Michael Counsell. The Weeks/Decades Beads prayer is a section of a prayer written by Mrs. Sallie Cheavens Verette and published in Women’s Uncommon Prayers.

On the Cross/Crucifix:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:

As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen

On the Invitatory/First Our Father Bead:

Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come before you,

Hide not your face from me in the day of my trouble.

Incline your ear to me; when I call, make haste to answer me . . .

My days pass away like a shadow, and I wither like the grass.

But you, O Lord, endure forever, and your name from age to age.
On the Cruciform/Remaining Our Father Beads:
O my divine Master, teach me to hold myself in silence before you, to adore you in the depths of my being, to wait upon you always and never to ask anything of you but the fulfillment of your will. Teach me to let you act in my soul, and form in it the simple prayer that says little but includes everything. Grant me this favor for the glory of your name.

On the Weeks/Decades Beads:

I am still; I listen.

I hear you say, “I am your strength.”

I say to you, “You are my redeemer.”

My Lord, my God.

Returning to the Invitatory Bead/First Our Father:

Repeat first Invitatory Bead/First Our Father prayer
Returning to the Cross/Crucifix:

The Lord’s Prayer 

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rainy-day.jpgIt is a rainy and cold Tuesday morning here and I find I am filled with a longing for spring. I want more than anything else to sit in the sun and feel it warm my bones. Still, it seems an appropriate landscape for Lent as I look out my window – gray skies, gray trees, gray birds, gray me.

I promised to write a set of prayers for prayer beads appropriate for use during Lent. I am going to try and write several sets of these prayers, each based on a different theme. The first will be based on – what else today? – the theme of light in the darkness.

You can say these prayers on an Anglican rosary, a Catholic rosary or any other set of beads you may use. Each prayer is simultaneously assigned to both an Anglican rosary bead and a Catholic rosary bead. For the Catholic version, you will need to repeat each weeks/decade prayer 10 times per decade, and do that five times, once for each decade of the rosary. For the Catholic rosary’s medal, add a prayer of your own choosing. I recommend that you say the rosary around three times before returning to the invitatory bead, the cross or the crucifix.

If you use a mala or subha or some form of prayer beads that is totally unique and original to you, the directions are even simpler – just say the prayers that you like on the beads you think are appropriate. The most important thing is to pray, not to pray on one bead or another.

Sources – The Book of Common Prayer and A Celtic Primer

A Lenten Rosary: Light

On the Cross/Crucifix:

May God the Father bless us;

May Christ take care of us;

May the Holy Spirit enlighten us all the days of our lives.


On the Invitatory Bead/ First and Second Our Father Beads

Kindle in our hearts, O God,

The flame of love that never ceases,

That it may burn in us, giving light to others.

May we shine forever in your temple,

Set on fire with your eternal light.


On the Cruciform Beads/Remaining Our Father Beads:

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit;

For you have redeemed me, O Lord, O God of truth.

Keep me, O Lord, as the apple of your eye;

Hide me under the shadow of your wings.


On the Weeks Beads/Decade Beads

May God give us light to guide us,

Courage to support us,

And love to unite us,

Now and evermore.


Return to the Invitatory Bead/First Our Father Bead

The Lord’s Prayer


Return to the Cross/Crucifix:

The Lord be our defender and keeper of body and soul both now and forever,

to the ages of ages. Amen.

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tallit.jpgSurfing the Washington Post’s excellent blogsite On Faith, I came across this wonderful personal essay called “A Tallit of One’s Own.” In it, Ruth Marcus, an editorial writer for the Post, writes movingly about receiving a tallit, or Jewish prayer shawl, of her own, made especially for her by her mother. As I describe in Bead One, Pray Too, Jews do not have a tradition of prayer beads, but they do have a tradition of touching the knots, called tzitzit, on the fringe of their tallit (or tallitot, in the plural). Her description of how much meaning her mother put into weaving this shawl for her and what it ultimately meant to Marcus to use it in prayer reminded me of why I make prayer beads for other people. I hope her essay will inspire you to put your faith into practice by making any item for another – a prayer shawl, a set of prayer beads, a meal – absolutely anything.

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It is Monday, Feb. 11 and my mom is still in the hospital and my stepfather and I are still here 10-12 hours a day. That’s the bad news. The good news is my mom is just fine – her oxygen levels are improving, her appetite continues to improve, she sits up more each day and she walked with a walker about 50 feet yesterday. Today they are supposed to move her the Rehab unit. I leave tomorrow. Mom should get out of the hospital on Friday.

I am just beat. I cannot recall being quite this tired in a very long time. I ask your indulgence – I haven’t posted as much as I had hoped to and I haven’t developed the Lenten prayer bead prayers I hoped to. I should be back in the saddle – so to speak – on Wednesday. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who has called or emailed or sent my mom cards and flowers. All is well. We just need sleep.

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broken-femur.jpgbroken-femur.jpgThis is about the best news there could possibly be – surgery revealed that the initial diagnosis of a tumor and possible bone cancer was utterly, totally WRONG! My mom has nothing more than a broken bone. It isn’t even her hip, it is her right leg, at the femur. I do not know how the C-word got uttered in the first place and am so relieved I don’t care. But apparently, when someone who has had thyroid cancer – as my mother did in 2000 – comes in with a broken bone, the cause is often a recurrence of the cancer in the bone. NOT THIS TIME, THO. Whew.

So, I arrived in Houston yesterday (Tuesday) just as mom was having surgery. She was in for 2 hours and the doctor told us there was “no sign of cancer” and no sign even of a tumor (in your best Arnold voice, now, everyone, in unison: “It is not a tumor!”) . It was a clean break. I spent the night here in the hospital with her. I am exhausted, but so happy.

And since this blog is really about prayer and prayer beads, let me say a little about Ash Wednesday here at Houston Methodist Hospital. There is a gorgeous chapel right inside the front door of this downtown medical facility and there have been three Ash Wednesday events inside – a service with imposition of ashes at 7:15 a.m.; a Catholic mass with ashes at noon; and at 3 there was a simple imposition of ashes. I slept through the first, attended the mass but left because it was crowded with hospital professionals trying to squeeze a little spirituality into their busy day I felt I should give someone my seat – there were at least 50 people standing before the mass began. I went to the 3 o’clock service. Methodists, who have only been doing an actual imposition of the ashes on this day for about 20 years or so (if memory serves) are a little ash-happy. I look like I’ve got a brand on my forehead!

What a neat hospital! Only took me 12 hours to find the Muslim prayer room, where there are prayers 5 times a day and a service on Friday. I think I will go and check it out. I haven’t been to a mosque in about 5 years.

Thank you all so much for your prayers. I had intended to post special sets of Ash Wednesday and Lenten prayers for prayer beads, but the last week threw all that into confusion. I will put something together in the next few days.

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Healing the worldAbout eight years ago I had the pleasure of writing about the Jewish Healing Movement in my first book, Faith Beyond Faith Healing: Finding Hope After Shattered Dreams. The JHM draws on the rich tradition of Jewish prayer and ritual to create eclectic and creative healing services and prayers.

When I was reporting the book, Rabbi Eric Weiss of the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center in San Francisco, sent me a prayer card that contained the Mi Sheberakh:

May the One who blessed our ancestors –

Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah,

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,

bless and heal the one who is ill:

___________, daughter (or son) of ________________


May the Holy One, the fount of blessings,

shower abundant mercies upon her (him),

fulfilling her (his) dreams of healing,

strengthening her (him) with the power of life.


Merciful One:

restore her (him),

heal her (him),

strengthen her (him),

enliven her (him).


Send her (him) a complete healing

from the heavenly realms,

a healing of body and soul,

together with all who are ill,

soon, speedily, without delay;

and let us say:


I believe that all of the world’s religious traditions have wisdom and value. I do not believe any single faith has cornered the market on anything. For that reason, I am open to borrowing prayers from all traditions and I hope I will not offend anyone when I describe how I adapted this prayer to my own prayer bead practice. I say it on my Anglican rosary for my mom, who, as I have written before, is in the hospital with a broken hip, possibly caused by cancer. Here is how I say it:

On the Cross:

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

On the Invitatory Bead:

May the One who blessed our ancestors –

Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah,

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,

bless and heal the one who is ill:

Diann, daughter of Katharine.

On the Cruciform Beads:

May the Holy One, the fount of blessings,

shower abundant mercies upon her,

fulfilling her dreams of healing,

strengthening her with the power of life.

On the Weeks Beads (repeat once on each bead):

Merciful One:

restore her,

heal her,

strengthen her,

enliven her.

(Say three rounds of the rosary, then, after the last round, return to the Invitatory Bead and repeat:)


Send her a complete healing

from the heavenly realms,

a healing of body and soul,

together with all who are ill,

soon, speedily, without delay;

and let us say:


(Return to the Cross and say the Lord’s Prayer or any other prayer of your choice).


I said this simple prayer for my mother yesterday as I walked along the creek in our town. I especially liked saying the prayer for the weeks bead because it was easily memorized and its brevity matched the rhythm of my steps. This prayer is very direct – no extra language. I am grateful that members of the JHM are willing to share it with all who are in need of it.

If you would like more information on the Jewish Healing Movement, visit the website of the National Center for Jewish Healing. You can check its directory for a center near you.


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On Friday (Feb 1), I received some bad news. My mother, who is 63, had broken a hip and fallen – in that order – while out with my stepfather and his parents. An x-ray at the emergency room appeared to show a tumor on her bone that had worn away the joint, causing the break. On Saturday morning, the orthopedist told my parents he thought the tumor was cancerous. As I write this, my mom is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday.

As I often do in times of stress, I pick up my prayer beads and let the repetition of the prayers and the slip of the glass through my fingers soothe me. For my mom, I have compiled some prayers for healing that I will say daily on my Anglican rosary. I hope others praying for the sick will find it useful, too:

On the cross:

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

On the invitatory bead:

Almighty God our heavenly father, graciously comfort your servant, Diann, in her suffering and bless the means made use of for her cure. Fill her heart with confidence that, though at times she may be afraid, she may put her trust in you.

On the cruciform beads:

God of the present moment,

God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart;

Bring hope and courage to Diann as she waits in uncertainty.

On the weeks beads:

Deep peace of the spirit to you

Peace of the air flowing out to you

Peace of God growing strong within you

I drew the prayers from The Book of Common Prayer, A Holy Island Prayer Book and the prayerbook of The Anglican Church of New Zealand. You may also adapt it for the Catholic rosary by saying the weeks prayers on the decade beads, the cruciform prayers on the Our Father beads and the invitatory prayer on the first of the Hail Mary beads on the stem and saying two prayers of your choice on the second and third Hail Mary beads.

As I write this, I am still in shock. My mother had breast cancer in 1998 and thyroid cancer in 2000. This could be a recurrence or a third cancer. I am planning to fly to Houston tomorrow to be there for her surgery. I’ll try and post more from there.

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