The rosary: a medieval app

A friend recently mentioned to me that he uses a “meditation app.” It provides a Scripture reading as fodder, and it bongs a little gong to start and stop the meditation time.

My first reaction was to think this odd. Technology-driven prayer time must surely be the final flowering of modernity’s mechanistic mindset, right? Buddha and Moses have failed to bring us into God’s presence, but the GPS on my smartphone can take me straight to him.

RosaryAfter a little thought, though, I realized that the rosary is a kind of medieval meditation app. It is a physical device that we use to start and stop the meditation time, and so long as the user has read the instruction manual the rosary will also give him a biblical topic as fodder. Technology has always been with us.

The two technologies are not the same, of course. I prefer the way the rosary provides tactile stimulation to quiet a jittery imagination, and I find it helpful that the timing device (verbal recitation of Hail Marys) gives my mind something to focus on when I’m just not up for meditating. The Our Father starts each decade (bong!) with a request for supernatural help, and the Glory Be ends each decade (bong!) by submitting to God’s purposes whatever just happened, whether meditation or distraction. And of course, my rosary never needs charging, fits in one corner of my pocket, and can be repaired with wire pliers.

But maybe a “meditation app” is not as strange as it sounds.

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Author: Dr. Holmes

Dr. Jeremy Holmes teaches Theology at Wyoming Catholic College. He lives in Wyoming with his wife, Jacinta, and their eight children.

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