Skip to comments.The Pope with a Chotki
Posted on 07/27/2013 3:30:18 AM PDT by NYer
This striking photograph from WYD shows Pope Francis clearly wearing a chotki around his wristsomething I can’t recall seeing with any other pope.
What’a chotki? It’s a kind of “prayer rope,” similar to the rosary, used by the Orthodox and Eastern rite Catholics.
When praying, the user normally holds the prayer rope in the left hand, leaving the right hand free to make the Sign of the Cross. When not in use, the prayer rope is traditionally wrapped around the left wrist so that it continues to remind one to pray without ceasing. If this is impractical, it may be placed in the (left) pocket, but should not be hung around the neck or suspended from the belt. The reason for this is humility: one should not be ostentatious or conspicuous in displaying the prayer rope for others to see.
During their tonsure (religious profession),Eastern Orthodox monks and nuns receive a prayer rope, with the words:
Accept, O brother (sister) (name), the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17) in the everlasting Jesus prayer by which you should have the name of the Lord in your soul, your thoughts, and your heart, saying always: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
Orthodoxy regards the prayer rope as the sword of the Spirit, because prayer which is heartfelt and inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit is a weapon that defeats the Devil.
Among some Orthodox monastics (and occasionally other faithful), the canonical hours and preparation for Holy Communion may be replaced by praying the Jesus Prayer a specified number of times dependent on the service being replaced. In this way prayers can still be said even if the service books are for some reason unavailable or the person is not literate or otherwise unable to recite the service; the prayer rope becomes a very practical tool in such cases, simply for keeping count of the prayers said. However, among some monastics - hesychasts, for example – this replacement is the norm.
The history of the prayer rope goes back to the origins of Christian monasticism itself. When monks began going into the deserts of Egypt, it was their custom to pray the entire 150 Psalms every day. However, because some of the monks were unable to read, they would either have to memorize the psalms or perform other prayers and prostrations in their stead. Thus the tradition of saying 150 (or more) Jesus Prayers every day began.
The western Rosary is sometimes said to have the same initial origin.
The invention of the prayer rope is attributed to Saint Pachomius in the fourth century as an aid for illiterate monks to accomplish a consistent number of prayers and prostrations in their cells. Previously, monks would count their prayers by casting pebbles into a bowl, but this was cumbersome, and could not be easily carried about when outside the cell. The use of the rope made it possible to pray the Jesus Prayer unceasingly, whether inside the cell or out, in accordance with Saint Paul‘s injunction to “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).
It is said that the method of tying the prayer rope had its origins from the Father of Orthodox Monasticism, Saint Anthony the Great. He started by tying a leather rope with a simple knot for every time he prayed Kyrie Eleison (“Lord have Mercy”), but the Devil would come and untie the knots to throw off his count. He then devised a wayinspired by a vision he had of the Theotokosof tying the knots so that the knots themselves would constantly make the sign of the cross. This is why prayer ropes today are still tied using knots that each contain seven little crosses being tied over and over. The Devil could not untie it because the Devil is vanquished by the Sign of the Cross.
Among other things, I think this shows the pontiff’s affinity for the Eastern rite churches. He used to regularly concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with Ukrainian Greek Catholics and this year took the historic step of having the Ecumenical Patriarch attend his papal installationthe first time that’s been done in a thousand years.
Catholic / Orthodox ping!
Never saw the Pope with a prayer rope before. A first for me.
When I was new to Orthodoxy (only a few years ago), I asked one of our parishoners, a Russian refugee, “What are these called (pointing to my chotki)”. She got a very earnest look on her face and said slowly “Prayer rope” with her heavy accent. I laughed and said, “Oh, I meant in Russian.” We both had a hearty laugh over that.
Perhaps Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch, and this Pope can bring us closer together. Praise God!
More than likely... he simply forgot he was using it. There are stories of him meeting people on the street earlier in Argentina. He would quickly pull his hand out of his pocket to greet a person with a handshake and the rosary would be attached.
Love it, he is a prayer warrior
See the last sentence. I learned in high school Latin that “All roads lead to Rome.”
Then he should maybe consider not wearing it.
It would seem to be a pretty important requirement of wearing it properly would be to use it as privately as possible, thereby not coming across as "LOOK WHAT I'M USING", as he is in that picture.
Pope Francis is so humble that bragging about a prayer rope around his wrist would be the last thing he would do.
Are you not aware that while he was the Archbishop in Argentina he rode the bus to work?
Perhaps I am missing something here. Why do you feel it is wrong for Pope Francis to have a prayer rope around his hand? Do you disagree with him having a crucifix around his neck, as well?
I must have lost dozens of them: lost, ruined or got them so dirty they made my wrist smell bad.
I hope this is not a metaphor.
Oh, and there are moments of grace. Once I was just walking down the street near DuPont Circle in Washington DC fingering the beads and saying my silent prayers, and a random guy came up and matched pace beside me and launched into a conversation.
- "You a nun?"
- "But you're a Christian, right?"
- "Would you pray for my brother? He's a dope addict."
"What's his name?"
- "Manfred. He's an intelligent guy. Talented. He's really just pissing his life away. [Insert a paragraph of surprisingly intimate details.] Would you pray for him?"
- "And pray for me too, willya? I'm --- I'm not such a good guy. What do you think about abortion?"
"I think it's murder."
- "Yeah, right, well my wife murdered our second kid. Actually, it would have been the second and the third one, she murdered two of them. What do you think happens to them?"
"I'm sorry, what do you mean?"
- "I mean, do they go to heaven, or do their souls just dissolve or something?"
"They are--- they are in the Mercy of God. That's all I know. Jesus said, 'Let the little ones come unto Me.'"
- "OK. Now what's the deal with Confession? I think I'd scare the priest right outta the box. A couple years ago I really messed up. I was in the Army..."
And on and on. He must have kept talking for 5 - 10 minutes, until my bus came: I boarded, and he turned and walked down the street. A needy soul: and who would he have talked to --- a bartender, maybe? --- if he hadn't seen my rosary?
The first part of your post is funny.
The the second part — wow! What a story! All because of a rosary.
Upon seeing the photo, that was my very first thought as well.
It also is not only a sign of growing eccumenical unity, but as a special message to Catholics to treat our roseries with respect, which includes not wearing them jewely.
Up until today, I considered myself the most destructive but ... you win!
Thank you for posting that personal experience. At one time, religious women would have been approached and asked for prayers. Since abandoning their habits, they are no longer recognizable. God bless your witness to the power of faith and prayer!!!
It would seem to be a pretty important requirement of wearing it properly would be to use it as privately as possible, thereby not coming across as “LOOK WHAT I’M USING”, as he is in that picture.
Don’t you think that you may be guilty of judging his motive? Only God can know that. Why are we humans always so quick to take a negative perspective?
See post # 18.
Of course it is the same origin. A rosary has 5 decades and is said on three sets of mysteries, Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious. That would make a Hail Mary for each psalm.
Note that an ill-advised attempt to break the relationship with introduction of a fourth set did not take.