The Orthodox Chotki and The Silent Breath Prayer


33 Bead Orthodox Chotki

The Jesus Prayer is also referred to as The Prayer of the Heart, and The Silent Breath Prayer.  It is the prayer of the publican found in Luke 18:10-17.

For some of us it may seem that the words of this prayer “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner” put too much focus on how “bad” we are.  “What about our self esteem” some might say.  Is it really healthy to go around repeating this prayer over and over?  Would it not be better to repeat a prayer thanking God for how wonderful we are?

I had some of those same thoughts when I was first introduced to the Jesus Prayer.  It is so much easier to want to be like the proud Pharisees and feel good about ourselves.  Acknowledging that we are sinners is humiliating, and no one likes to be humiliated.

It is a strange paradox, however, that in acknowledging that we are a sinner can actually make us feel better about ourselves.  The knowledge that we are never good enough and asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness frees us from the guilt and shame that bog us down.  So, it is in that prayer “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner” that we feel a thankfulness to God unlike no other.

The experiences I have had above did not come right away when I started using the Jesus Prayer.  I believe I have to really live with the prayer for a time before I understood the mystery of this beautiful prayer.

By acknowledging we are sinners and asking for God’s mercy, we are praising God for his love and thanking God for creating us.  When we are carrying around the burden of guilt and shame, we cannot even really see the beauty around us.

For me, The Jesus Prayer has become a way that I can truly give thanks to God, that despite my failures, the God’s love and mercy makes the beauty of the world new every morning.  It gives me an opportunity to start fresh.

Along with using The Jesus Prayer with prayer beads (one of which is the Chotki as shown above) this simple prayer has also been used through the ages as a way to pray continuously.

When you breathe in “Lord” – breathe out “have mercy” – breathe in “on me” – breathe out “a sinner”  – your every breath can become a prayer.  If you uses meditation or yoga as tools in your prayer practices, The Jesus Prayer can be a wonderful way to focus your mind on Christ.

Have you had experience using The Jesus Prayer?  What does this prayer mean to you?

~ Chrisitne

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New Pocket Rosaries Listed

I have just listed four new Pocket Rosaries–also know as Tenners, Decade Chaplets, and Linear Rosaries.  Medals included are St. Benedict, St. Francis, St. Michael, and Stella Maris.

Check my Shop to see listings.

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Irish Penal Cross Symbols and Meanings

As I was working on this new rosary today, I was reminded that I have wanted to research and write about the symbols and their meanings found on the Irish Penal Crucifix.  For a few years, I have been collecting the information I find on the internet regarding the subject and putting it in a folder for this purpose.

One thing that I have been particularly sensitive to lately is the accuracy of information found on the internet.  With that, I have also become aware of the reality that even historical information written in books could be one individual’s interpretation of the facts–especially if it is written many years later.

So, as I relay this information, I would like to add the disclaimer that though this information is taken from multiple sources, discovering what is fact versus what is fiction can be difficult.  But, just as historians often need to interpret their findings, I am sure that people who lived during the Penal Era in Ireland could also have had some varying ideas of the meanings of these symbols.

Still, there are some symbols that have been recognized by Christians going back as far as biblical times.  Many of the symbols and their meanings on the Irish Penal Cross fall into that category.  Unlike many historical writings, much of the New Testament writings date back to the to the times of Christ.

The Crucifix itself is a symbol of the death and resurrection of Our Lord, and so too are the symbols that surround the Corpus on the Penal Cross.

Inscription – INRI is the Greek acronym IESVS · NAZARENVS · REX · IVDÆORVM, which translated into English is Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.

Crown of Thorns –  Representing the Crown of Thorns placed on Christ’s head.

Chalice – Representing the Last Supper.  This is an example where an image is symbolic of more than one thing.  Just as the chalice is representative of the Last Supper, so too it represents the Eucharist where we share in the the Resurrection through the body and blood of Christ today.

Hammer – Representing the tool used to nail Christ to the cross.

Cords – Representing the Christ’s Scourging at the Pillar.

Five Wounds – Representing the wounds Christ endured on the cross–the nails in his hands and his feet & the sword that pierced His side

Spear – Representing the spear (sword) that the soldier used to pierce Jesus’ side.

Ladder – Representing the ladder used to remove Jesus from the cross after His death.  It is also said to represent the stairway to heaven.

? Bowl – Representing the bowl (jug) of water used to wash Christ’s feet on the Last Supper.

Nails – Representing 3 the nails (spikes) that were pounded into Christ’s hands and feet.

Rooster and Pot – Representing the rooster (cock) that crowed 3 the times Peter denied Christ just as Christ foretold.  (This explanation leaves the pot below in question.  However, artifacts that have been found of Penal Crosses show that the images differed. )


Representing the legend of the rooster (cock) that Judas’s wife was cooking in a pot.  According to the story, Judas came home and told his wife that he wanted to hang himself in fear that Christ would come for him because he had turned him over to the Roman soldiers.  His wife told him that the possibility of Jesus rising from the dead and coming to get him was as likely as the rooster in the pot coming back to life–which it then did.  (Some reference this as a biblical story, but I am not aware of this written anywhere in the bible.)

If anyone has any additional information or information that differs from the above, please comment.  I will keep this information up to date on this page:

Click here for more information on the Irish Penal Rosary.

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Holy Saturday – Faith in the Unknown

The space between.  The space between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  The space between death and the resurrection.  Is this the space between knowing and unknowing?  Is this the space where I most often live–wondering if the resurrection really did happen?  Is Jesus really the Savior of the World?  Is my faith only but a false hope?

Today, Holy Thursday, I am pondering those questions.  I am also wondering what it must have been like for those who saw those last days of Christ’s life on earth with their own eyes.  Did they ask themselves these same questions?  Will I always be the doubting Thomas that needs to see and touch the nails that pierced Christ’s hands before I will believe He rose again?

Is there a space between knowing and unknowing, or do we have to choose one or the other? If I question what I believe does that make it unknown to me?  Does that mean I do not have faith?

The more I think about it, that space between is the unknown.  Good Friday is a known and Easter Sunday is a known.  Where we live is in the unknown.  Where we live is in the space between.  Physically, we have yet to experience death.  Physically, we have yet to experience Christ’s promise of the resurrection.  However, we are more than physical beings.  That I do believe.

Can I also believe that I experience death and new life over and over again in my walk with Christ here on earth?  Can I die to my own insecurities and let Christ be the master of my being?  Can I be in the unknown, yet knowing?  Can I not know, yet have faith?  Isn’t that what faith is–to know in the unknown?  Or, is faith not knowing but believing?

“I do believe; Lord help my unbelief”  Mark 9:24

Click here for the article by Christine Valters-Paintner that ignited these thoughts.


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Making May Own Lampwork Glass Rosary Beads

One of my favorite things to do is to make my own lampwork glass beads.  Now that the weather has warmed up a bit, I can crack the windows and fire up my torch again.

Not only do I find the act of stringing beads a prayerful process, I also find the act of making beads prayerful.  There is something about melting a glass rod and turning it into a bead that often brings words of scripture and song to mind.  The analogies and metaphors of the process of making glass beads are many.

One of the songs I frequently find myself humming is “Sprit of the Living God.”  As I melt the bead and mold it onto the rod, I meditate on God melting me and molding me as well.  My prayer is that I will be as giving as the glass in my hand to my Lord’s hands.

The smaller beads are something I will probably never attempt to make, but the larger focal beads are a way I can offer a personal touch.  They are also another way I feel like I can add my own prayers for the recipient to the piece.

Pictured above are a few of the newly listed rosaries I have made with my glass beads.

You can visit my shop for my pictures and information:

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Franciscan Crown Rosary with Tau Cross

This configuration of beads also works nicely with using the Prayer of St. Francis as a meditation, as I mentioned in an earlier post–The Peace Prayer of St. Francis.

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New Anglican Rosaries

I have just listed four new Anglican Rosaries in my Etsy shop.

Click here for the link.

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Lazo Wedding Rosary – A Mexican Wedding Tradition

Wedding Lazo Rosary

The Lazo Rosary (sometimes referred to as a Laso, Lasso, or Lazzo Rosary) is a Mexican wedding tradition.  It is made of two separate rosaries joined together with an additional center and crucifix. One 5 decade rosary loop is placed around the bride’s neck and the other around the groom’s during the wedding ceremony.  The Lazo Rosary symbolizes the unity of marriage as one body in Christ.

Traditionally, it is the padrinos (godparents) that place to rosary on the couple.  Padrinos play a special role in the wedding ceremony and, in some cases, even offer financial support for the festivities.  The padrinos are typically a married or engaged couple. Throughout the newly married couple’s marriage, the padrinos also act as mentors.

The Lazo rosary can be kept by the couple as a reminder to pray together and as a wonderful keepsake of their wedding day.

As with many traditions, this ceremony has most likely evolved.  It is said to date as far back as the Aztecs.  During the Aztec wedding ceremony, the tunics of the couple were tied together as a symbol of their unity.  The phrase “tying the knot” comes from ancient acts in many cultures around the world where couples are joined together on their wedding day with a symbolic gesture that physically ties them together in some way.

Some Lazos are separated into two rosaries.  One rosary is given to the mother of the bride and the other to the mother of the groom.  The mothers of the newly married couple are to use the rosaries to pray for their children’s marriage.

This Lazo is not made to be taken apart, but I have made them that way on request.  If you are interested in a custom Lazo, you can contact me through my Etsy shop.

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Our Sure Hope

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Handmade Lime Green Floral Rosary

Like the lime green of the bud of a new leaf, this new rosary I created today reminds me of the mercies of our Lord that are new every morning.

Great is your steadfast love and faithfulness to us, O God!

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