• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Monday, 30 May 2016 12:41

Prayer beads a catalyst for dialogue - Reflection


Fr-Nick-de-Groot-150-smallThe Janssen Spirituality Centre is known for its conferences and lectures and meditation sessions by means of which we try to promote interreligious dialogue. Often this can be rather “heady” or cerebral which is not what all dialogue is about. For us, our motto of “KARUNA”, which means compassion, helps to direct us to an openness, a hospitality and respect for all people who show interest in the search for God.

So a couple of months ago at one of our planning session we decided to have a look at prayer beads as used by the “lay” people and from the various faith traditions.

On the 7th of May the JSC invited people from various faiths to share with one another the use of prayer beads. This was our first attempt to do this kind of exercise so we were not quite sure what the results might be. We did not expect a big crowd but just some representatives from about four different faiths. On the internet we had looked up “Mr. Google” to give us some ideas about the use of prayer beads by different faiths and saw that there were actually quite a number – Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Bahais, Christians, Hare Krishna, and others. There were pictures of the different kinds of beads, some made from very precious materials, some rather bland, some large some small. There were little descriptions to each one as to the number of beads to the circular string and the names given to them but it still left us pretty much in the dark as to what it meant to the persons using them and how they best used them.

Prayer-beads.jpg---450There were eight people who turned up on the day, which was a bit of a disappointment. Some had bowed out because of cold or flu, but with the eight we decided to go ahead and spend the time together. We had one Hare Krishna, one Australian Hindu, one Indian Hindu and 5 Catholics. All the various types of beads that we could find were put on the table and we took time to introduce ourselves to one another since some had not met before.

For more than two hours we shared about how we learned how to use our beads since childhood, how we often rattled off our prayers without much thought but that later in life there was often an awakening to see how beautiful the prayers actually are. We delved into some of the history and variations of tradition. The Hare Krishna Japa Mala beads are 108 in number and a sincere devotee can make a commitment to say 16 times the 108 prayers or chants that belongs to each of the 108 beads. There is an extra little string of beads with 16 smaller beads to count the full series, 16 times 108. When I asked him how long that might take to say all of them, he said about 1 ½ hours. He also showed a little pouch that is specially made to hold the beads as he is praying with the beads or carries them around.

Prayer beads have been used by the Hindus since 300 BC. The Buddhists, Sikhs, Hare Krishna and Bahai have all borrowed the concept from Hinduism. In Islam, prayer beads are referred to as Misbaha and contain 99 beads. Each of the beads represents a name for God. The belief is that if you know all the 99 names of God off by heart and say them each day, you will surely go to heaven.

As we Catholics have the tradition to have our rosary blessed by a priest and holy water, so other faiths also have traditions of blessing their beads. They can be considered holy objects and not to be touched by the non-member. The repetition of the set prayers forms a mantra, a way of focussing the mind and heart in devotion to God.

The time was well spent and went very quickly. It was not just what we talked about, but the way in which we talked about our prayer life and devotion that brought us close together. In the end, we all wanted to come back again for some more of this kind of sharing.

Fr Nick de Groot