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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, December 28, 2002

Rosaries link Catholics to God

By Charlotte Graham
The Clarion-Ledger

When Peggy Watson Hooks enrolled in a beading class a year ago, she never dreamed what she learned would increase her faith and bring her closer to God.

Hooks, a member of St. Richard Catholic Church in Jackson, Miss., is using her beading skills to make rosaries, beads Roman Catholics use to guide the recitation of prayers. For Hooks, making rosaries is far different from making beaded jewelry.

"When I am making a rosary, it's spending quality time with God," she says. "It's quiet time, time when I just bead and meditate on God."

For centuries Catholics have used the rosary to meditate on three series of events, or mysteries, in the lives of Mary and Jesus — the Joyful Mysteries of Christ's birth; the Sorrowful Mysteries of the crucifixion; and the Glorious Mysteries of the resurrection. There are five events in each set of mysteries.

Declaring this the "Year of the Rosary," on Oct. 16, Pope John Paul II added a fourth mystery: the light.

Now on Sunday, instead of repeating the glorious mysteries, Catholics are asked by the pope to contemplate the "mysteries of light": Christ's baptism, his first miracle at Cana, his proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God, the transfiguration of Christ in front of three disciples and the establishment of the Eucharist as a sacrament.

And just how does one pray the rosary?

Sister Dona Marie Degnan, manager of the Carmelite Gift & Book Shop in Jackson, says Catholics first "make the sign of the cross, touching their forehead, chest, left shoulder and right shoulder, while saying, 'In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."'

Hanging down from a circle of beads are a crucifix, five beads and a little emblem, often with an image of Mary on it. While holding the crucifix, at the beginning of the rosary, Catholics recite the Apostles' Creed.

Holding the first bead, they say the Our Father, or Lord's Prayer. On each of the next three beads, they say the Hail Mary prayer.

Usually a chain connects the beads, and at the end of each group of "Hail Marys," in between the beads, they recite the "Glory Be to the Father" prayer.

On the fifth bead that hangs down, Catholics meditate on the first mystery and say the "Our Father."

Then above the emblem, the beads start in a circle. On the first set of 10 beads, they repeat 10 "Hail Marys," followed by the "Glory Be." They then reflect on the second event and repeat the "Our Father." Catholics continue the same sequence through events three, four and five, which cover one set of mysteries. At the conclusion of the rosary, they say the "Hail, Holy Queen" prayer.

Most rosaries have only one-third, and now with the new mysteries, one-fourth, of the full rosary. The beads are grouped in what are called decades that include one mystery, one "Our Father," 10 "Hail Marys" and one "Glory Be."

There are five decades in these smaller rosaries that cover the five events in each set of mysteries, for example the five joyful mysteries. In the past, to pray all three sets of mysteries, Catholics had to go around the rosary three times. The large, complete rosary had 15 decades, but now with the addition of the new mystery, a complete rosary has 20 decades.

Hooks says rosaries are special to members of the Catholic church. Many families still have rosaries that have been handed down through generations.

Because rosaries are so well-loved, Hooks makes heirloom rosaries for families to cherish.

"I make them with semiprecious stones," she says. "I wanted to make them from things that are a part of nature."

Each is unique and each has its own story to tell. For instance, Hooks has a rosary made of crystal and garnet. She uses the garnet to represent the blood of Jesus and calls this rosary, The Blood of Christ Rosary.

She also has a rosary she calls The Sacred Heart of Jesus. It has an emblem of Jesus touching his heart beaded on the rosary.

Hooks e sometimes spends hours at a time just sitting, thinking, meditating and beading.

"The rosaries are prayer beads that have a way of touching the hearts of people. They help you focus your mind and make you ready to face God."