Like our ancestors in faith, we use beads to assist us in our prayer. Grasping and moving the beads helps us focus, integrating our senses of touch and sight into our experience of prayer. With fingers busy, our minds can be open to pondering the mysteries of God. In stressful times, simply holding the beads can be prayer, even when our minds are unable to focus on thoughts.
Within the Catholic Church we call this praying with beads the Rosary. There are five cycles of prayer, called decades because each cycle includes ten Hail Mary’s. The decades are preceded by an Our Father and concluded with a Glory Be. For each decade there is a mystery of our faith that can be used as a meditative reflection. The groupings of these mysteries are called the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the Glorious Mysteries. Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries. Through this prayer, we come into God’s presence in faith, praying not to accomplish something but to offer ourselves to God so that God might work in and through us.