minima maxima sunt

The Small things are the Great things; as in a grain of mustard seed.


Some of you may recognize the term Pater Noster as the Latin for the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer or as we catholics say; the “Our Father”. The Paternoster is also an older version of the Rosary and has it’s origins in even older tradition.

In the early church the faithful recited the Psalms which was a practice carried over from the Jewish faith. This practice would in time become knows as the Liturgy of the Hours or the Divine Office, and the Psalms with some accompanying prayers would later be compiled in a book called a Breviary. A similar book was used in the east called the Horologion which translates as Book of Hours. As monastic communities formed the Psalms would be recited daily and methods of counting began to form. The earliest counting techniques may have been a sac of pebbles or knotted ropes like the prayer ropes still used today by orthodox communities.

Not everyone could read back then and so simpler devotions developed which replaced the lengthy Psalms with with shorter prayers like the Jesus Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer. As early as the second century we see the Lord’s Prayer being proscribed in the Didache.

Chap. VIII.

2. Neither pray ye as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, so pray ye: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us this day our daily (needful) bread. And forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or, from evil). For Thine is the power and the glory for ever.”

3. Pray thus thrice a day.

And the Jesus Prayer which dates to the 6th century:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Using simpler prayers not only benefitted the religious in monasteries who were unable to read, but these devotions were soon adopted by the layperson. As their popularity increased, prayer ropes developed into ropes with beads and among the many variation the Paternoster took form in the west sometime around the tenth century.

The Paternoster comes in several styles; as a straight rope or a loop, with 10, 50, or 150 beads (and some variations). Sometimes the beads will have a tassel at the end or a cross. The Lords Prayer (Pater Noster) is recited 150 times in place of the 150 psalms. The Paternoster is one of many different styles of prayer bead/ropes which I plan to write about in the future.

Pater noster,

qui es in caelis: sanctificetur Nomen Tuum;

adveniat Regnum Tuum; fiat voluntas Tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra.

Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;

et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;

et ne nos inducas in tentationem;

sed libera nos a Malo.

Homemade Paternoster


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