Paternosters are one-decade rosaries. They are more easily documented than rosaries, since many rosaries were destroyed during the Reformation. Beaded cords used to recite prayers have been found in many cultures and over many years. In fact, our word “bead comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “biddan” meaning “to pray” and “bede” meaning “prayer.”

It was very dangerous to be a Catholic during the Reformation. To possess a rosary or any other Catholic paraphernalia was to risk imprisonment or death. One way that Catholics chose to practice their faith in secret was to carry Paternosters instead of rosaries. They were easily portable and concealable. It was possible to use the paternoster discretely while going about daily life in public because it could fit in the palm of a hand.

Pre-Christian people valued certain stones for their talismanic or protective qualities. Among these were coral – to strengthen the heart, rock crystal – for purity, amethyst – to protect against drunkenness, and agate – for protection. Other materials that were used included amber, carnelian, and emeralds. When Christianity became popular, beads fell out of favor. God was to protect you – not the beads. But old habits die hard. When people made rosaries, the used the same stones, for the same reasons.

Paternosters are not meant to be worn, but used. Following the standard order for rosaries, the prayers go as follows: at the cross, recite the Nicene Creed. At each of the ten following beads (Aves), recite the “Hail Mary” prayer. At the final bead (the Paternoster), recite the “Our Father” prayer.

References –

The Book of Beads – Janet Coles and Robert Budwig
The History of Beads – Lois Sherr Dubin
Sacred Origins of Profound Things – Charles Panati

“Those people”

It is so easy for people to think that church is a special club. They are in it, so it must be special.

And then they look around and they see people who don’t look like them. They are a different color or class or race. They are from a different culture or country.

And they don’t like it.

How can “those people” get in here? Like it makes them lesser, because the church is big enough for people who aren’t like them.

I’ve taken communion with homeless men. I’ve shared the cup with addicts and alcoholics. The person at the rail on one side of me is divorced. The other person is going to be divorced soon because she is cheating on her husband. Widows, orphans, and the wealthy are here.

We all are joined in this communion. We all are joined in this Body.

We are all crumbs
And we are all chosen.

And it is beautiful.

They aren’t “those people”. They are us with different faces and different stories. But they are us, all the same.

For us to exclude them or think they are lesser is to harm ourselves and to weaken the Body.

In the same way that a husband is married to his wife, when we are joined into the Body of Christ, we have to love all of it.

To paraphrase Pogo “We have met Christ, and He is us.”