An Authentically Byzantine “Rosary”

Icon of Christ the Teacher and a Chotki

Any serious scholar of church history recognizes that there has been cross-pollination over time between the various particular churches of Christendom. This fruitful interchange naturally occurred to a greater extent during the initial centuries and then began to slow down as the various rites began to crystallize. But it has continued to a greater or lesser extent down through the subsequent ages and is still happening even in our current era. And how could it not? It is only to be expected that when different groups interact there will be a certain sharing as people encounter ideas and customs they have not known before.

So it runs contrary to experience to speak of preserving some kind of mythical absolute “purity” in the theology, liturgy, and tradition of one’s particular church. At the same time, though, there is a real danger of an inauthentic incorporation or even imposition of elements from one ecclesiastical culture upon another. I think one can fairly assert that this sort of inorganic exchange took place with the ill-advised and heavy-handed Nikonian reforms in the Russian Orthodox Church and also in the centuries of Latinizations introduced and sometimes forced on the Eastern Catholic churches prior to the Second Vatican Council.

Thankfully, it seems that we may be moving toward a world of greater respect for legitimate differences in custom among the authentic Christian churches. Many Old Ritualists have now been reconciled with the ROC or brought back to full communion with Rome in the small but significant Russian Catholic Church. And since the Second Vatican Council, Eastern Catholics in general are being encouraged to restore the heritage we share with the Orthodox, praise God.

And yet, building from the second example, some Latin customs have over the centuries since their introduction become integrated into Eastern Catholic life. At least in certain cases, it might do more harm than good to throw them out entirely, as doing so could lead to even more unnatural reactionary revisionism. But at the same time, they should not be left as borrowed additions, but instead ought to be fully appropriated by adaptation into a genuinely Eastern context.

One example of such a Latin custom is the rosary. The standard form of this devotion comes from the (uber-Latin!) Dominicans. But there is no reason why the underlying idea behind it cannot be made into a thoroughly Byzantine-Slav prayer to the Theotokos. Below is one idea I came up with for how to do this. You can say it either with Latin rosary beads or an Eastern chotki (prayer rope):

Substitute the Beginning Prayer for the Apostles’ Creed

Keep Lord’s Prayer and use Byz-Slav version of Minor Doxology

Substitute the Song to the Most Holy Theotokos for the Hail Mary

Substitute the Closing Prayer for the Hail, Holy Queen and final Collect

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