Sunday, August 15, 2010

Delightful Discoveries - The Power of Prayer 08.15.10

I believe in the power of prayer... which may surprise some of my friends and family because they know that I don't believe in "religion" per se. But then, I guess I have a somewhat different view of prayer, which wouldn't surprise most people that know me because I've been accused of having somewhat different views on most things in life!

To give you a little background, I came from a religiously diverse home. My grandmother, who lived with us, was a devout Catholic. My mother, having been divorced, was no longer welcome in the Catholic church thanks to the rules that were in place back then (she has since rejoined the church), and my father was Lutheran, although he did not attend church services.

My parents had decided to let me decide for myself what belief system I wanted to follow, and when I was beginning kindergarten, I decided that I wanted to be baptized into the Catholic faith. Going to mass with my grandmother, and attending the neighborhood Catholic school, and then on to a Catholic high school, inspired a deep sense of faith and devotion to things that ultimately could not be explained, but simply were to be believed in. I learned my prayers, but as I grew older I would often find myself just chatting with God, or Mary, or Jesus, or any number of saints in day to day language. To this day, when I find myself searching for a lost item, I call upon my old friend St Anthony to point me in the right direction, often with some completely unexplainable results.

While I don't feel a personal need for organized religion in my life, mostly because of the hypocrisy and political undertones of most religions, I do believe that there is a power in the universe that is much bigger than me. It is that power that I believe prayer taps into whenever a person needs help and support during a time of struggle. I also believe that prayer is always answered - but sometimes, because it serves the grand purpose of our lives, that answer is no.

I also believe in miracles - which also surprises many of the people who know me. I tend to lean toward scientific explanations of most aspects of life, and I believe that knowledge actually reinforces my belief in miracles. Science simply cannot explain away everything, and even some of the things that can be explained by science are still miraculous. How else can you explain the wonder of life, the mystery of creation, and things like the ability of the body to heal when scientific fact says it shouldn't, or a missing object to suddenly be found in a place you know it hadn't been. I believe that there are mysteries of the mind and body that may never be explained - and the power of prayer is one of them. Maybe it's the positive energy of prayer, maybe there really is a supreme being somewhere deciding our fates and the outcome of our requests - but even the scientific community is beginning to acknowledge that there's something to prayer, even though they can't explain why it seems to work.

When I was confirmed, I chose St Bernadette of Lourdes as my patron saint, inspired by the Song of Bernadette movie in which a young Jennifer Jones portrayed Bernadette Soubirous, a young french girl who saw visions of Our Lady in a grotto outside Lourdes, France. As a confirmation gift, I received a new rosary, complete with a tiny vial of holy water from the miraculous healing spring at Lourdes. I cherished that rosary, not only because of its beauty and the relic it contained, but because it symbolized a relationship with a heavenly mother - a woman I could only aspire to be like. Saying the rosary continues to be a symbol of devotion to Mary, and for the many Catholics who use its prayers as a method of honor or request, it serves as a continuing legacy of faith and symbol of hope in a world of chaos and change.

I will be featuring many religious prayer bead sets in the not too distant future, but since today, August 15th, is the Catholic feast day of the Assumption of Mary, I thought I would remember my Catholic heritage and share some of the beautiful rosaries that are available on Etsy.

I have to begin with this distinguished Vintage Rosary featuring a Reliquary (a tiny sampling of dirt from the grotto) from Lourdes which is available at evertonterrace. For anyone who finds inspiration and hope in the visions at Lourdes, this rosary would be a cherished possession.

While most people are familiar with the five decade rosaries that are popular, the actual full rosary is a 15 decade set of beads - very rare to find, but I managed to track one down at PMMDesigns1. Created using Crystallized Swarovski pearls in a beautiful soft rose, this Fifteen Decade Rosary features an Immaculate Heart of Mary centerpiece and a beautifully detailed crucifix.

The use of rosaries by those serving in the armed forces in times of war has grown by leaps and bounds. However, because the use of metal in traditional rosaries has often led to their being confiscated when soldiers are captured, innovative soldiers turned to using knotted parachute cord or parachute cord and plastic beads to create their own non-metallic rosaries. Their popularity spread and today, shops like georgiegirl83 work to raise money for supplies to make these rosaries to send to our troops by selling these knotted rosaries to the general public as well.

Rosaries are no longer expected to be made of crystal or pearls, either. Modern versions often include a variety of beads and gemstones, which lend themselves nicely to the handling of the beads on a regular basis. Shecop1992 offers this earthy Sardonyx Rosary featuring dramatic gemstone rounds offset by shimmery silver and a nicely detailed crucifix.

Living in the desert Southwest in an area where many of the native residents are members of the Catholic church, I wanted to create a rosary that combined the beauty of turquoise with the warmth of copper to showcase two of Arizona's most commonly mined materials. I came up with this Adoracion de Nuestra Madre Divina. Available at my shop, MysticWynd, this Dominican Catholic rosary features five decades of beautiful blue chalk turquoise ave beads, separated by copper accented black glass paters which are flanked by black onyx rounds. The cross and medallion (centerpiece) are antiqued copper and the beads separating the ave beads are copper rounds and pearlized glass seed beads.

For those of you who believe in miracles and the power of prayer, no explanation is necessary. For those of you who do not, no explanation is possible. I know I've personally experienced a few divine interventions, including an angel on my shoulder telling me to put my seat belt on just a short while before I was involved in what could have been a disastrous accident. I would love to hear your stories of faith and miracles, so please feel free to post them in comments.

Tomorrow, I'll be back with some pale yellow goodness. If you have anything you would like to see featured, send it to me by clicking here to e-mail me the link to the page of the shop where I can view the item! You can also view my calendar of future features by clicking on the "Be Featured" link in the right sidebar :)

Have a faith filled, miracle filled day!


Everton Terrace said...

I do indeed strongly believe in miracles and the power of prayer. I am guided daily - we all are, sometimes we just need to listen a bit more. Thank you so much for including my rosary in this lovely post.

Tina's Treasures said...

This is a very beautiful Treasury. I made my first Rosary for my husband's cousin's communion. That one I made using Mother of Pearl and she loved it. I have made 5 now. Thank you so much for including me in this Treasury. All of the ones that you chose to feature are exquisite. All should be proud of their talent.

ViKotas said...

I grew up Catholic, became Protestant in my adulthood, and have always believed in miracles....currently praying for a few now!
The rosaries are beautiful

customteddys said...

I liked reading this post, it actually made me smile inside. I love hearing how other people find faith in this complicated world we live in. Thanks for sharing all, Vicki

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