Anglican Rosaries

There have been a number of occasions on which members of our Anglican Catholic community have commented, both online and off, about the ‘Anglican Rosary’, or Anglican prayer beads, and whether members of the ordinariates pray it.

It seems there are very few of us who do, but the reason for this is likely nothing other than that few of us prayed it even as Anglicans.

Anglican_BreviaryThe so-called ‘Anglican prayer beads’ consist of a chaplet of four groupings of seven beads called ‘weeks’, separated by four ‘cruciform’ beads (so named because of the cross shape they form in this arrangement), and prefaced by a cross or crucifix and an invitatory bead.

Because this is a relatively recent innovation in the Anglican world (it seems to be no older than the Anglican Use liturgical provision in the Catholic Church), there is no long history of use, nor an established or authoritative manner of praying it. This has led to some rather humorous takes on attempts at adopting this devotion.

Some Anglicans use the Jesus Prayer for the small beads and the Trisagion for the big beads. Another proposal uses the Agnus Dei. (Although, as found in these schemes, it would be rather unfortunate to avoid a Hail Mary in a devotional nicknamed ‘rosary’). Another suggestion online proposes praying St Patrick’s Breastplate with Anglican prayer beads. Other people doubtless have different prayer customs, and of course one can always simply use the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be.

Some Catholics, however, have objected to the ‘Anglican Rosary’, seeing it as nothing more than an avoidance of the more renowned Marian alternative, the common rosary used by hundreds of millions of Catholics around the world, sometimes also known as the ‘Dominican Rosary’. As Anglicans, most of us who prayed the rosary prayed this commonly known Catholic version, the Dominican one. We did so, however, in a distinctively Anglican way.

So I would suggest that, if anything is to be considered truly the ‘Anglican Rosary’, it is simply the common Dominican rosary as used by Anglo-Catholics, with customary Anglican forms of the constituent prayers:

In the + Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

I don’t think we should reject the otherwise so-called ‘Anglican Rosary’, but before seeking any hearty ecclesiastical endorsement of it, it might be prudent to wait upon its natural, organic adoption by the Anglican Catholic faithful of the ordinariates. What might it take to establish this other ‘Anglican Rosary’ as a commonly-prayed devotion?

It is a question of holiness. If saints pray it in a saintly manner, and it thus becomes an instrument of the sanctification of souls, then it will become something worthy of being taken up on a more widespread basis.

Until then, let us continue to use the ‘Anglican Rosary’ we have always used: the one common to all Latin Christians, prayed in our Anglican idiom. And let us continue to ask Mary for her intercession on behalf of the Anglican ordinariates and all our separated Anglican brethren.

8 thoughts on “Anglican Rosaries

  1. It’s interesting that you should bring this up, as — being someone with no prior Anglican experience — I found this idea of the “Anglican rosary” somewhat amusing and puzzling when I first found out about it a while back.

    If you’ll forgive the lowbrow cultural reference, it reminded me of a South Park episode where the boys talk to some hippie potheads who invade the town for a music festival. One of the hippies says (paraphrasing), “We should all, like, just like, live together in a community… And, like, one guy can just bake all the bread… And someone else can, like, make sure we’re all safe…”

    And one of the boys responds: “You mean like a baker… And a cop… In a town?”

    This contrivance seem to be of a similar sort. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with organic variations or different forms to the Rosary. I pray it in slightly different forms at different times myself. And if you want to pray the Jesus Prayer, why not get a Byzantine Christian prayer rope/chotki, whose hesychastic tradition has been handed down in the East since long before St Dominic’s in the West? But there’s no need to ostentatiously reinvent the wheel just for the sake of schismatic identitarianism.

    Good point, too, about the test of whether it produces saints/saints pray it. Of course this doesn’t auto-disqualify the devotion altogether, but it put me ill at ease to find out that the Episcopal priest who invented it in 1980 was later convicted of child abuse.

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  2. Pingback: The “Anglican” Rosary isn’t Really Anglican Patrimony – Defense for the Hope

  3. Apparently the “Anglican Rosary” was invented by an Episcopal priest (now defrocked as a sex offender) around 1980, so I hardly think that this counts as an important part of the Anglican patrimony. Best to stick with the one Our Lady gave to St. Dominic.

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  4. Let’s not forget that Pope John Paul II approved the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which is prayed with a standard set of rosary beads, but with alternate prayers on the beads for the ten decades. Thus, there’s no way to argue that this is foreign to the Catholic tradition. Of course, where and how it fits into the Anglican patrimony of the ordinariates is another question entirely.

    That said, we also need to understand the clear teaching articulated by the Second Vatican Council with respect to pious devotions in the sacred constitution Sacrosanctum Concillium.

    13. Popular devotions of the Christian people are to be highly commended, provided they accord with the laws and norms of the Church, above all when they are ordered by the Apostolic See.

    Devotions proper to individual Churches also have a special dignity if they are undertaken by mandate of the bishops according to customs or books lawfully approved.

    But these devotions should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some fashion derived from it, and lead the people to it, since, in fact, the liturgy by its very nature far surpasses any of them.

    The last clause is particularly cogent: the liturgy, by its very nature, far surpasses all devotions. It would be wrong to replace the divine office, which is liturgy, with any pious devotion.

    Obviously, the ultimate test for our use of any pious devotion is that it leads to a deeper and closer relationship with our Lord. This obviously is something to discern in consultation with a confessor or spiritual director if one is experimenting with devotions.

    Finally, pious devotions are not a “one size fits all” product. There is no canonical obligation to pray any pious devotion. A devotion that’s right for one person might not be right for another person, and a devotion that’s right at one stage of our lives might not be right at another stage of our spiritual lives. The goal is to do what’s right for you in the present moment. We do not have any right whatsoever to impose a pious devotion on another.

    Norm.

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  5. I am very interested!

    I think I was passingly and remotely familiar with the Anglican Rosary, but by no means intimate with it. I am particularly interested for a few reasons: I do pray the Jesus Prayer, in part, because over the 30-some years I have been Catholic—and with many (failed) attempts—the Rosary has never been an effective prayer for me; also, as a Benedictine Oblate in the Ordinariate, I am often seeking ways to further my devotional life, with some of my ‘normal duties’ (ie, Morning/Evening Prayer) also being a challenge.

    Do keep us posted on this, thanks!

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  6. Pingback: The Rosary: What is it? Should Anglicans pray it? - Anglican Pastor

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