Prayer Ropes: The Orthodox and Eastern Catholics’ Chotki / Komboskini / Komvoschonion


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Prayer ropes used by Orthodox Christians to pray are known as Chotki, Komboskini or Komvoschonion. These are somewhat similar to the Rosary of the Roman Catholics.

The prayer rope is part of the habit of Eastern Orthodox monks and nuns who pray “Jesus Prayer” instead of “Hail Mary” and “Our Father.”

The Jesus Prayer is a short, formulaic prayer esteemed and advocated within the Eastern Orthodox & Oriental Orthodox churches:

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

The prayer rope dates back to the origins of Christian monasticism itself. It was the custom of the monks to pray the entire 150 Psalms every day. However, because some of the monks were illiterate, they would 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 prayer rope becomes a very practical tool in such cases for keeping count of the prayers said.

To the Orthodox Christians prayer is heartfelt and inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit. It is a weapon that defeats Satan and the prayer rope is the sword of the Spirit.

The Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic Churches, refer to the canonical hours as the ‘Divine Services,’ and the Book of Hours as the Horologion (Greek: ῾Ωρολόγιον).

The practice of daily prayers grew from the Jewish practice of reciting prayers at set times of the day. In the Book of Acts, Peter and John visit the Temple for the afternoon prayers: Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. (Acts 3:1)

In the Psalms we read: Seven times a day I praise you because your judgments are righteous. (Psalms 119:164)

Among some Orthodox monastics, the canonical hours and preparation for Holy Communion may be replaced by praying the Jesus Prayer a specified number of times.

Chotki 100 beads

Chotki 100 beads

Historically, the prayer rope would typically have 100 knots. However, today, Chotkis come in a variety of sizes: 33, 50, 100, 101, 103, 150, and 300 beads tied from 100% wool. Most versions come with multiple divider beads, a knotted cross or a tassel, said to be used to wipe away one’s tears. The Greek Komvoschonion is usually made of knotted wool or “rattail”, while the Byzantine Ruthenians of the Carpatho-Rusyn Mountains use strung wooden beads.

How to Pray a Chotki

Praying the Chotki can be very elaborate, with an entire liturgy written for this purpose or can be very simple using a variation of the Jesus Prayer on each bead.

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

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, through the prayers of Your most holy mother, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.

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

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

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Prayer Beads: The Anglican Rosary and Other Christian Prayer Beads


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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In the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, the Rosary is a sacramental and Marian devotion to prayer to commemorate events in the life of Jesus. Many similar prayer practices exist in various other Christian communities, each with its own set of prescribed prayers and its own form of prayer beads or prayer rope. These other devotions and their associated beads are usually called “chaplets” are sometimes used by other Christians.

An Anglican Rosary made of Olive Wood & Chiastolite

An Anglican Rosary made of Olive Wood & Chiastolite

In the mid-1980s, Episcopalians in the United States participating in a study group dealing with methods of prayer developed a particular contemplative prayer form using prayer beads. Since then, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, and other Protestant groups, have adopted or adapted the design of the Episcopalian prayer beads with their own set of prescribed prayers, thus giving rise to the term “Christian prayer beads.”

The string pf Anglican prayer beads, also known as the Anglican rosary is a loop of strung beads which Anglicans, as well as Christians of other denominations, use to order their prayer. It combines the elements of the Roman Catholic Rosary and the Jesus Prayer Rope of the Eastern Orthodox.

The Anglican rosary

The Anglican Rosary is designed using a cross and 33 beads to signify the traditional number of years of earthly life of Jesus.

There is one ‘Invitatory’ bead followed by four sets of seven beads each called a ‘week.’ In the Judeo-Christian tradition the number seven is deemed to be spiritually perfect and complete.

A single bead called the ‘Cruciform’ bead is positioned between each week. When the rosary is placed on a flat surface, the four Cruciform beads form a Cross.

The small beads in the week are often separated by small spacer beads.

The Anglican prayer beads are made of a variety of materials: precious stones, wood, colored glass, or even dried and painted seeds, and adorned with a variety of crosses or, occasionally, crucifixes. The Celtic cross and the San Damiano cross are two which are often used.

While the traditional Rosary used by Roman Catholics focuses on the seminal events in the life of Christ and asks the Virgin Mary to pray for their intentions, the Anglican rosary are most often used as a tactile aid to prayer and as a counting device. There are no set prayers for the Anglican Rosary. It is the choice of the individual or of the congregation.

The rosary is prayed, unhurriedly, three times to signify the Holy Trinity. This makes for ninety-nine prayers, and in Middle Eastern traditions, 99 is the complete number of the Divine Names similar to the Islamic tradition of reciting the 99 names of Allah.

The inclusion of the cross at the beginning or the end, brings the total number of prayers said to 100, which is the total of the Orthodox Rosary and represents the fullness of creation. The saying of the rosary is then followed by a period of silence for reflection.

The Book of Common Prayer brims with many choice prayers; particularly among the morning and evening prayers, the prayers of the people, the numerous collects and even lectionary readings. Psalms and Canticles are time honored devotions, as are the Jesus Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Serenity Prayer.

The standard Anglican set consists of the following pattern, starting with the cross, followed by the Invitatory Bead, and then, the first Cruciform bead, moving to the right, through the first set week to the next Cruciform bead, continuing around the circle. The prayer may close by saying the Lord’s prayer on the invitatory bead and/or a final prayer on the cross as in the example prayers given below. The entire circle may be done thrice, to signify the Holy Trinity.

The Cross

In the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Or

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Or

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen.

Or

Blessed be the one, holy and living God. Glory to God forever and ever. Amen.

The Invitatory

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

Or

Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Or

O God make speed to save us, O Lord make haste to help us. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, I snow and will be forever. Amen.

The Cruciforms

Oh Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.

Oh Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.

Oh Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace.

Or

Guide us waking O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace.

Or

Behold now, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord. You that stand in the house of the Lord, lift up your hands in the holy place and bless the Lord.

Or

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy upon us.

The Weeks

Almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless us and keep us. Amen.

Or

Jesus, lamb of God, have mercy on us.

Jesus, bearer of our sins, have mercy on us.

Jesus, redeemer of the world, give us your peace.

Or

I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?

My help comes from the Lord, the make of heaven and earth.

Or

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

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Prayer Beads: The Roman Catholic Rosary


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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The Roman Catholic Rosary

The Roman Catholic Rosary

Many scholars admit that the use of prayer beads originated with the Hindus in ancient India, and the Hindu or Buddhist mala is the great mother of rosaries. From India and the Himalayan kingdoms, the prayer beads traveled west to Africa and Europe, where it evolved into the Islamic Subha, the Christian rosary, the Eastern Orthodox prayer rope, and the secular worry beads used throughout Greece and the Middle East.

The Roman Catholics use the word ‘Rosary’ to describe a string of prayer beads, a device used to keep count of the recited prayers, as well as a sequence of prayers.

Mary world Rosary

In the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, the Rosary is a sacramental and Marian devotion to prayer to commemorate events in the life of Jesus.

Traditionally, the prayer beads have consisted of strings of similarly sized beads, seeds, knots, or even rose petals and beads made from crushed roses, from which we get the word “rosary.” In Latin the term “rosarium” means ‘crown of roses’ or ‘garland of roses.’ The Roman Catholics sometimes write the word ‘rosary’ with an initial capital as ‘Rosary.’

To the Roman Catholics, the Rosary is above all a protracted prayer that helps to meditate on the mysteries of the life of Christ and His Mother Mary. Strongly associated with the Blessed Mother, the Rosary relies on her intercession with her Divine Son and on her ability to raise the minds and hearts of the faithful to God through both vocal prayer and reflection on all that God has done for us.

The Perugia Altarpiece, Side Panel Depicting St. Dominic by Fra Angelico (1395–1455)

The Perugia Altarpiece, Side Panel Depicting St. Dominic by Fra Angelico (1395–1455)

According to Cornelius Sneck, a disciple of the French Dominican Blessed Alain de la Roche, the concept of the rosary was given to Saint Dominic in an apparition by the Blessed Virgin Mary in the year 1208 at the church of Prouille in a hamlet in Languedoc, France. Here are the words of Cornelius:

We read that at the time when he was preaching to the Albigenses, St. Dominic at first obtained but scanty success: and that one day, complaining of this in pious prayer to our Blessed Lady, she deigned to reply to him, saying:

Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labors, you have spent them on barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of Divine grace. When God willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation. Therefore preach my Psalter composed of 150 Angelic Salutations and 15 Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest.

Traditionally, from this time onwards, the Rosary included 150 “Hail Marys,” one for each of the Psalms, which were gradually divided into 15 groups of ten each, corresponding to the 15 mysteries of the Rosary for meditation. Therefore, technically, a complete Rosary was for many years 15 decades long. Nowadays, the most commonly used Rosary has five decades, and the mysteries were commonly divided into three groups, the Joyful, the Sorrowful, and the Glorious, with five mysteries in each group.

Thirteen popes starting with Pope Leo XIII supported the tradition that the Blessed Virgin Mary first revealed the Rosary devotion to St. Dominic.

How to recite the Holy Rosary

The Prayers

IN THE NAME of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (As you say this, with your right hand touch your forehead when you say Father, touch your breastbone when you say Son, touch your left shoulder when you say Holy, and touch your right shoulder when you say Spirit.)

I BELIEVE IN GOD, the Father almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty. He shall come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

OUR FATHER, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

HAIL MARY, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

GLORY BE to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O MY JESUS, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy. Amen.

HAIL HOLY QUEEN, mother of mercy; our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us. And after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of he promises of Christ. Amen.

O GOD, WHOSE only-begotten Son by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech Thee, that by meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

ANNOUNCE each mystery by saying something like, “The third Joyful Mystery is the Birth of Our Lord.” This is required only when saying the Rosary in a group.

Say the above prayers in the order shown in following image:

The Catholic Rosary

INTRODUCTION
1. IN THE NAME…
2. I BELIEVE IN GOD…
3. OUR FATHER…
4 – 6. HAIL MARY…
7. GLORY BE…
8. O MY JESUS…

THE FIRST DECADE
9. ANNOUNCE…
10. OUR FATHER…
11 – 20. HAIL MARY…
21. GLORY BE…
22. O MY JESUS…

THE SECOND DECADE
23. ANNOUNCE…
24. OUR FATHER…
25 – 34. HAIL MARY…
35. GLORY BE…
36. O MY JESUS…

THE THIRD DECADE
37. ANNOUNCE…
38. OUR FATHER…
39 – 48. HAIL MARY…
49. GLORY BE…
50. O MY JESUS…

THE FOURTH DECADE
51. ANNOUNCE…
52. OUR FATHER…
53 – 62. HAIL MARY…
63. GLORY BE…
64. O MY JESUS…

THE FIFTH DECADE
65. ANNOUNCE…
66. OUR FATHER…
67 – 76. HAIL MARY…
77. GLORY BE…
78. O MY JESUS…

CONCLUSION
79. HAIL HOLY QUEEN…
80. O GOD, WHOSE…
81. IN THE NAME…

The Mysteries of the Rosary

The praying of each decade is accompanied by meditation on one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which allow the faithful to contemplate on the life and death of Jesus – from the “Annunciation” of the birth of Jesus to his “Ascension” into heaven, and beyond.

The three Mysteries are known as: the Joyful (or Joyous), the Sorrowful, and the Glorious.

Each of these Mysteries allows the faithful to contemplate on five different stages of Christ’s life. Based on the long-standing custom, these traditional 15 Mysteries of the Rosary were standardized by Pope Pius V in the 16th century.

In October 2002, Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae recommended an additional set of Mysteries called the Luminous Mysteries (or the “Mysteries of Light”) thus increasing the total number of mysteries to twenty.

Various other mysteries for meditation and thematic Scriptural passages called ‘Scriptural Rosary’ have been provided. Though these additional offerings are not official, they are perfectly acceptable means of praying the Rosary and meditating on the mysteries of salvation by the faithful.

Although it is recommended, it is not obligatory to recite the fruits of the mystery before each decade. As such, many Catholics have long forgotten the fruits of the mysteries.

Joyful Mysteries (Monday, Saturday)

  1. The Annunciation (of the Birth of the Savior to Mary).
    Fruit of the Mystery: Humility
  2. The Visitation (of Mary to Elizabeth and John the Baptist).
    Fruit of the Mystery: Charity, Love of neighbor
  3. The Nativity of Our Lord.
    Fruit of the Mystery: Poverty of spirit, Detachment from the things of the world, Contempt of riches, Love of the poor
  4. The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
    Fruit of the Mystery: Obedience, Purity of intention
  5. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.
    Fruit of the Mystery: Piety

Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesday, Friday)

  1. The Agony in the Garden:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Contrition, Conformity to the will of God
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Purity, Mortification
  3. The Crowning with Thorns:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Moral Courage, Contempt of the world
  4. The Carrying of the Cross:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Patience
  5. The Crucifixion:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Final perseverance, Salvation, Self-Denial

Glorious Mysteries (Sunday, Wednesday)

  1. The Resurrection:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Faith
  2. The Ascension:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Hope, Desire for Heaven
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit (on Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost):
    Fruit of the Mystery: Love of God, Wisdom, Knowing and sharing the truth
  4. The Assumption of Mary:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Devotion to Mary, Grace of a happy death
  5. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Eternal Happiness

Luminous Mysteries (Thursday)

  1. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Openness to the Holy Spirit, Living one’s baptismal promises
  2. The Miracle at Cana: To Jesus through Mary,
    Fruit of the Mystery: Doing whatever Jesus says
  3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Repentance, Trust in God
  4. The Transfiguration:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Becoming a new person in Christ, Desire for holiness
  5. The Institution of the Eucharist:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Eucharistic Adoration, Active participation at Mass

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Prayer Beads: The Hindu Japa mala


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj .

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The antiquity of the Japa mala, the Hindu rosary, is confirmed by its frequent inclusion in sculpture and painting along with Hindu deities such as Agni, Agastya, Ahirbudhnya, Ardhanarisvara, Bhadrakali, Bhringin, Brhaspati, Gauri, Kamantaka, Lakulisa, Manasa, Parvati, Rati, Risi(s), Shiva, Subramanya, Surya, Uma, and Vāyu, among others. Lesser spirits are believed to dwell in rosary-bead perforations.

A female Shiva sadhu (sadhvi) in Haridwar, India. (Photo: Brett Davies, 2010)

A female Shiva sadhu (sadhvi) in Haridwar, India, holding a Japa mala. (Photo: Brett Davies, 2010)

The Sanskrit term “Japa mala” for the strand of Hindu prayer beads means ‘muttering chaplet’ because of the prayer beads’ function to record the number of prayers uttered.

Japa mala is used as an aid to meditation, each bead counted is an individual prayer or mantra, that keeps the mind from wandering and make it concentrate, without distractions, on the meaning of the prayer being recited. Recitation is usually murmured, or silent. The repetition of a mantra or divine names through the devotional act known as japa yoga

This practice of praying using prayer beads to keep count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name or names of a self-selected deity (ishtadevata) became widespread by the eighth century BC in India.

108-bead mala of  jasper with turquoise howlite and red bamboo coral marker beads.

108-beads Japa mala of jasper with turquoise howlite and red bamboo coral marker beads.

The 108 beads of the Japa mala represents the cosmos derived by multiplying the twelve astrological signs by the nine planets. Hence the Japa malas are usually made from 108 beads, though other numbers, usually divisible by nine, are also used. The total number of beads may vary among different Hindu sects. A common Vaishnavite Japa mala has 108 beads. Shaivites often use 32, or 64. There are many other variants.

27- beads Japa Mala made of Rudraksha seed

27- beads Japa Mala made of Rudraksha seeds.

When worn visibly by a Hindu, the material used for the Japa mala bead can indicate the Hindu deity or sect to whom the Japa mala and its wearer are dedicated.

According to Hindu tradition the correct way to use a mala is to hold it with the right hand, with the thumb flicking one bead to the next, and with the mala draped over the middle finger. Since the index finger represents the ego, the greatest impediment to self-realization, it is considered best to avoid using it when chanting on a mala.

A widely used Hindu Japa mala prayer is the Gāyatrī Japam also called Gāyatrī Mantra, repeated twice a day in the morning and in the evening. It is addressed to Savitr, the Sun before sunrise, the supreme generative force and ruler of the planets, to propitiate hostile planets or angry gods. The greater the number of repetitions, the greater the blessing. The favored number of repetitions are 27, 54, or 108 times, without any break. Through repetition, the reciter strives to accumulate an inner force originating from the Sun, to illuminate his mind, to gain knowledge, energy, and blessings in one’s undertakings.

Materials used in Hindu Japa malas are the most varied of those used among all religions. Most of them are of vegetable origin that include seeds, berries, fruit, nuts, drupes, dried plant stems, and wood. From mineral sources come glass, semiprecious or precious stones, and metals. Materials of animal origin such as bone, ivory, horn, coral, shells and pearls are also used. A Japa mala made of gold or gemstones is considered one hundred times more auspicious and efficacious than any other material. Glass, especially coloured ones simulating precious stones, has also been used for centuries. Today plastic beads that simulate natural minerals are universally used because of their low-cost.

The Hindus believe that each material embodies its own particular properties: Silver and gold fulfill wishes; coral brings wealth; crystal, good luck; pearls, glory; and shell helps one to achieve fame.

Many Hindus fear falling prey to evil eyes that could fall on them and their Japa Mala. To avoid this some members belonging to certain Hindu sects place the Japa mala and the hand holding it into a small cloth bag called gaumukhi, meaning “cow’s mouth” while reciting the prayers.

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Prayer Beads in Major Religions


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj .

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In many major religions and cultures, the device most used to help devotees to pray and meditate is the strand of prayer beads. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population meditate or pray with beads.

Hindu/Buddhist 108-bead mala of  jasper with turquoise howlite and red bamboo coral marker beads.

Hindu/Buddhist 108-bead mala of jasper with turquoise howlite and red bamboo coral marker beads.

Many scholars admit that the use of prayer beads originated with the Hindus in ancient India,and the Hindu or Buddhist mala is the great mother of rosaries. From India and the Himalayan kingdoms, the prayer beads traveled east to China and Japan, and to the west to Africa and Europe, where it evolved into the Islamic Subha, the Christian rosary, the Eastern Orthodox prayer rope, and the secular worry beads used throughout Greece and the Middle East.

Catholic Rosary

Roman Catholic Rosary

Traditionally, the prayer beads have consisted of strings of similarly sized beads, seeds, knots, or even rose petals and beads made from crushed roses, from which we get the word “rosary.” In Latin the term “rosarium” means ‘crown of roses’ or ‘garland of roses.’ The Roman Catholics sometimes write the word ‘rosary’ with an initial capital as ‘Rosary.’

Since counting prayers were initially so important, each religion embracing the use of prayer beads developed its own symbolic structure to follow. In addition to helping keep one’s place in structured prayers, the prayer beads also symbolize the commitment to spiritual life. With its circular form, a string of beads represents the interconnectedness of all who pray.

Common to many strands of prayer beads is the number nine. Greatest of the single-digit numerals, nine symbolizes completion. Where the numbers do not add up to nine, they are often divisible by three, symbolic of the trinity in Hinduism (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva), the three central concepts of Buddhism (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) and the trinity in Christianity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).

In addition to their use in the religious rituals of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity, the prayer beads find a place in the spiritual practices of cultures as diverse as the African Masai, Native Americans, Greek and Russian Orthodoxy.

Eastern-Orthodox Prayer Rope

Eastern-Orthodox Prayer Rope

Many similar prayer practices exist in various other Christian communities, each with its own set of prescribed prayers and its own form of prayer beads or prayer rope. These other devotions and their associated beads are usually called “chaplets”. The rosary is sometimes used by other Christians, especially in Lutheranism, the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Church.

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Hindu Muslim Bhai Bhai


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Krishna Janmashtami - 2

Today, while Hindus all over the world are celebrating Krishna Janmashtami, I was flipping through my vast collection of photographs harvested from the World Wide Web. I came across photographs that heartened my soul with love for my country where my Hindu and Muslim brethren coexist as a closely knit family.

THIS IS MY BELOVED INDIA!

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Sawm Ramadan


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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May this Ramadan bring you the utmost in peace now and during prosperity. May light triumph over darkness.

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Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان‎ Ramaḍān), the ninth month of the Islāmic calendar, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Though not mentioned in the Quran, but summarized in the famous hadith of Gabriel are the Five Pillars of Islam (arkān-al-Islām أركان الإسلام; also arkān ad-dīn أركان الدين “pillars of the religion”) which are the foundation of Muslim life – five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory by believers. They are:

  1. Shahadah (belief or confession of faith – Muslim life)
  2. Salat (worship in the form of prayer)
  3. Sawm Ramadan (self purification by fasting during the month of Ramadan)
  4. Zakat (alms or charitable giving or concern for the needy)
  5. Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime)

Annually, Muslims, worldwide, observe self purification by fasting during the month of Ramadan which lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.

The word Ramadan derived from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ, means “scorching heat” or “dryness.” It is “obligatory” for adult Muslims to fast, except those who are ill, diabetic, traveling, pregnant, breastfeeding, or during menstrual bleeding.

The Quran states:

The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction; therefore whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein, and whoever is sick or upon a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days; Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty, and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks. [Quran 2:185]

Wall Street Bull

Wall Street Bull (Photo: V.A. Subas Raj)

Bowling Green is a small public park in Lower Manhattan at the foot of Broadway next to the site of the original Dutch fort of New Amsterdam. Built in 1733, originally including a bowling green, it is the oldest public park in New York City surrounded by its original 18th century fence. At its northern end is the Charging Bull sculpture, which is sometimes called the Wall Street Bull or the Bowling Green Bull.

Dhuhr (Noon) prayer in Bowling Green - 1

Dhuhr (Noon) prayer in Bowling Green (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Dhuhr (Noon) prayer in Bowling Green  (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Dhuhr (Noon) prayer in Bowling Green (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Last year, while my wife and I were in New York, we saw a faithful Muslim in the Bowling Green at 1:23 pm unmindful of the blaring noise surrounding him, perseveringly reciting the Dhuhr (Noon) prayer. We were spellbound by his faith in God and his steadfast adherence to his religious duties.

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What Do You Read in the Bible: Morality or Depravity?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Though born to Roman Catholic parents and growing up in a Catholic background I find that people who read the bible, the Old and New Testaments, as a ritual, fail to realize the reality of its content. The brutality in the history of Christianity such as crusades for redeeming the Holy Land, mass massacre, enslaving the defeated etc., stems from the words written in the Bible.

Barbara G. Walker

Barbara G. Walker

Recently I came across an article on the web titled BIBLE MORALITY (King James Version) containing biblical verses compiled by Barbara G. Walker, an independent scholar of comparative religion and mythology, as well as women’s spirituality. She is a Freethought Nation guest writer concerning the supposed “morality” of the Bible.

Some of my Christian friends might find fault with me for reproducing this controversial compilation. But this is reality.

The paraphrases and commentary are Barbara’s, while the original verses are linked.

1. KILLING.  (AS IN “THOU SHALT NOT”…???)

The biblical god personally kills a total of 371,186 people, not counting his slaughter of every living thing in Genesis 7. The biblical god also orders the killing of a total of 1,862,265.

Gen 22:2 - God accepts human sacrifices (including that of Jesus, later).
Ex 12:29 - God kills all the firstborn in the land of Egypt.
Ex 15:3 - God is a god of war.
Ex 21:1517 - Anyone who strikes or curses a parent must be killed.
Ex 22:18 - Every witch must be killed.

Ex 22:1920 - You must kill anyone who “lieth with a beast,” or who worships any god other than Yahweh.
Ex 31:15 - Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be killed.
Lev 20:101327 - You must kill adulterers, homosexuals, wizards and spirit mediums.
Lev 21:9 - Any priest’s daughter who fornicates must be burned alive.
Lev 24:16 - Blasphemers must be killed.

Num 16:27-33 - God caused the whole tribe of Korah — men, women, and children — to be buried alive.
Num 21:3 - God caused the destruction of all the Canaanites.
Num 31:7-35 - God orders Moses to kill the Midianites, making sure to slaughter not only the men but also the boys and females, except for the 32,000 virgin girls.
Deut 3:4 - God is pleased that his warriors destroyed 60 cities.
Deut 7:16 - You must kill all the people God delivers into your hands, and “thine eye shall have no pity upon them.”

Deut 13:5 - Any prophet or “dreamer of dreams,” who serves another god, must be killed.
Deut 13:6-9 - If your brother, son, daughter, wife, or friend tempts you to worship other gods, “thou shalt surely kill him.”
Deut 13:13-15 - If the people of any city worship other gods, you must slaughter them all, including their cattle.
Deut 17:5 - Any man or woman who worships other deities of sun, moon or stars must be stoned to death.
Deut 18:20 - False prophets must be killed.

Deut 20:16-17 - God commands complete destruction of all Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, and “thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.”
Deut 22:21 - A bride found not to be a virgin must be stoned to death.
Deut 22:22 - Adulterers must be killed.
Deut 22:23-24 - A girl who is raped within city limits, and fails to cry out, must be killed.
Deut 28:22-28 - If you don’t obey God’s commandments, he will punish you with consumption, fever, extreme burning, blasting, mildew, hemorrhoids, the scab, the itch, the botch of Egypt, etc., as well as “madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart.”

Josh 6:21 - God’s warriors destroyed Jericho and killed every man, woman, child, and domestic animal.
Josh 8:25 - God’s warriors killed 12,000 people in the city of Ai.
Josh 19:47 - The children of Dan wanted more room, so they destroyed the whole population of Leshen and took their territory.
Judges 1:17-18 - Judah and Simeon utterly destroyed the populations of Zephath, Gaza, Askelon and Ekron.
Judges 11:39 - In accord with God’s law, Jephthah was forced to burn his virgin daughter to death as a sacrifice.

Judges 15:15 - God enables Samson to kill 1,000 men with the jawbone of an ass.
Judges 20:46 - At Gibeah, Benjamin’s men killed 25,000 people and burned every town.
1 Sam 6:19 - God kills 50,070 people for trying to peek into the Ark.
1 Sam 15:3 - God commands the destruction of Amalek: “Slay both men and women, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
2 Sam 6:7 - God kills Uzzah for touching the Ark, even though he was trying to save it from falling off its oxcart.

1 Kings 18:40 - God commands the slaughter of “prophets of Baal”.
1 Kings 20:36 -  Because a man didn’t “obey the voice of the Lord,” a lion was sent to kill him.
2 Kings 2:24 - God sent bears to tear apart 42 children for making fun of Elisha’s bald head.
2 Kings 10:25 - God commands the killing of a multitude in the temple of Baal.
2 Kings 19:35 - God’s angel killed 185,000 Assyrians in a single night.

1 Chron 21:14 - God kills 70,000 Israelites with a pestilence.
2 Chron 15:13 - Any man or woman who refuses to “seek the Lord God of Israel” must be killed.
Job 1:15-19 - God arranges the killing of Job’s children, servants and animals.
Isa 13:16 - God promises that all the Babylonians’ children will be “dashed to pieces before their eyes;” their wives will be raped.
Isa 45:7 - God says “I create evil.”

Jer 48:10 - Killing for God is mandatory; God curses anyone who “keepeth back his sword from blood.”
Jer 50:21 - God commands that the people of Merathaim and Pekod be “utterly destroyed.”
Ezek 9:5-7 - God calls for purging in Jerusalem: “let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, and women… fill the courts with the slain.”
Ezek 35:8 - God promises to fill the mountains, hills, valleys and rivers with slain men.
Hosea 13:16 - God promises to have Samaritan infants dashed to pieces, and pregnant women will have their bellies slashed open.

Nahum 1:2 - God is jealous, full of vengeance and wrath.
Zeph 1:3 - God threatens to destroy everything, man and beast, birds and fishes.
Zeph 1:18 - “The whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy.”
Zeph 3:6 - God brags that he has destroyed many nations.
Zech 13:3 - A false prophet must be killed by his father and mother.

2. RAPE

Ex 21:7-8 - A father may sell his daughter to be a “maidservant” (or sex slave) who must “please her master.”
Num 31:7, 18 - God orders his warriors to kill every living thing in a captured city, except the virgin girls, who are to be raped and turned into sex slaves.
Deut 21:11-12 - If a warrior likes the look of a female war captive, he can take her to be one of his “wives.”
Deut 22:28-29 - A man who rapes a virgin may take her for a wife if he pays her father 50 shekels of silver. (Yet, a bride found not to be a virgin must be stoned to death -Deut 22:20-21).
Judges 5:30 - The spoils of war include “a damsel or two” for every man.
Judges 21:12-23 -  God’s warriors killed all the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead except for 400 virgin girls, who were taken as slaves. If there are not enough girls to go around, God’s warriors may raid neighboring towns for more to rape.

3. SLAVERY

Gen 9:25 - God cursed Ham, son of Noah, with perpetual slavery for the crime of seeing his father naked.  (Ham was formerly considered the ancestor of all “blacks.”)
Ex 21:4 - A male slave may marry and have children, and may go free after six years; but his family remains the property (or hostages?) of his master.
Ex 21:7 - A man may sell his daughter as a sex slave.
Ex 21:20-21 - A man may be punished for beating a male or female slave
to death, but if the victim survives the beating for a few days, then
there is no penalty.
Lev 19:20 - When a man has sex with a female slave (or “bondmaid”), SHE must be scourged.
Eph 6:5 - Paul says slaves must obey their masters “with fear and trembling.”
Titus 2:9 - Paul says slaves must obey and please their masters.
1 Tim 6:1 - Paul says slaves must “count their masters worthy of all honor.”

4. WAS JESUS ETHICAL?

Matt 5:28-32 - Jesus says marriage to a divorcee is adultery; and a man who ogles a woman has already committed adultery; and that you must cut off your hand or pluck out your eye if it offends.
Matt 6:19-34 - Jesus says don’t save any money and don’t plan ahead.
Matt 8:32 - Having no regard for private property, Jesus destroys a herd of someone else’s pigs.
Matt 10:34 - Jesus says he brings not peace on earth but “a sword.”
Matt 19:12 - Jesus says the best way for a man to be sure of getting into heaven is to have himself castrated.

Mark 11:13 - Jesus destroys a fig tree for not bearing figs out of season.
Mark 14:4-7 - Jesus says it is more important to anoint him with precious ointment than to give to the poor, who will always be here. (Why not just get rid of poverty?)
Mark 16:18 - Jesus says anyone who believes in him can play with venomous snakes or drink poison without harm. (This act has been often tried, with rather unsatisfactory results.)
Luke 12:47-48 - Jesus says it is permissible to whip slaves.
Luke 14:26 - Jesus says no man can be his disciple unless he hates his parents, siblings, wife, children, and himself as well.
Luke 19:27 - In telling a parable, Jesus insinuates that anyone who denies his rulership must be killed.
John 15:6 - Jesus says anyone who doesn’t believe in him must be burned.
Acts 5:5-10 -  Ananias and his wife Sapphira were killed for withholding money from the church.
2 John 1:10-11 - A Christian is forbidden to offer hospitality to a non-Christian, not even to wish him “Godspeed” on parting.

5. WOMEN IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

1 Cor 11:3-10 - Women are inferior “because man was not created for woman, but woman was created for man.”  Every woman “while praying or prophesying” must have her head covered “because of the angels,” meaning the spirits (it used to be believed that women’s hair attracts spirits).
1 Cor 14:34-35 - Women must not speak in church, which is a shame for them to do. If they want to ask questions, they must learn from their husbands at home.
Eph 5:22 - Wives must submit to their husbands as they would to God.
1 Tim 2:11-15 - A woman must not teach, or hold authority over a man, but must “learn in silence with all subjection,” because “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”  (So, being gullible is the original sin.)
1 Tim 5:9 - Paul says the only women acceptable by the council of elders are devout, monogamous women over the age of sixty.

6. SILLINESS

Gen 1:11-19 - God made all green plants on the third day of creation, but neglected to supply the sun (on which both plants and “days” depend) until the fourth day.
Gen 6:6-7 - Because a few people displeased him, God “repented” having made the world, and decided to destroy all life on earth.
Lev 11:5-6 - God thinks rabbits are cud-chewing animals.
Deut 22:5 - All cross-dressers, or women who wear pants, are “abominations.”
Deut 25:11-12 - A woman who seizes a man’s genitals, even to defend her husband from an attacker, must have her hand cut off.
Deut 33:17 - God believes in unicorns.
Matt 5:22 - Jesus says anyone who calls another “fool” will go to hell, but then he does it himself (Matt 23:17).
1 Tim 2:9 - Christian women are forbidden to braid their hair or wear jewelry.
James 5:14-15 - Prayer by the elders of the church is the only sure cure for sickness.  (Christian Science, anyone?)

Which version of the Ten Commandments do you prefer from God’s inerrant Word? Exodus 20Exodus 34Deuteronomy 5 or Deuteronomy 27?

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“For I was hungry and you gave me food … ” (Matthew 25:35)


Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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The dirty old beggar was shivering, seated there on snow. A middle-aged woman walked up to him and said: “Good morning!”

The beggar leisurely looked up at the smiling woman who looked as if she had never missed a meal in her life. Her coat was new signifying that she was accustomed to the finer things in life. His first thought was that she too wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.

“Are you hungry?” she asked gently.

“No,” the beggar answered sneeringly. “I just came after dining with the President … Now go away.”

The woman did not budge an inch. She continued standing there. Her smile became even broader as she bent towards him and placed her right hand gently under his arm.

“What are you doing, lady?” the man asked angrily. “I told you to leave me alone.”

Just then a police officer appeared from nowhere.

“Madam, that’s old Jack. Is there any problem?” the police officer inquired.

“No. No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I am just trying to get this gentleman on to his feet.”

“Will you help me?” she asked.

The officer hesitated. “What do you want with him?” he asked.

She pointed at the hotel a few yards away and said: “I want to take him there and get him out of the cold for a while and then get something for him to eat.”

“Are you out of your mind, lady?” Jack, the beggar asked as he felt the strong hands of the police officer grab his other arm and lift him up. “I will not go in there!” he yelled.

“Let me go, officer. I did not do anything,” Jack pleaded.

Eventually, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria, and seated him at a table in a remote corner.

The hotel manager saw the trio and strode across the cafeteria and stood beside their table.

“Is this beggar here to create trouble?” the manager asked asked the police officer.

“Sir, this lady brought this man in here,” the officer answered.

“No. No. No. Not in here!” the manager shouted angrily. “Admitting a beggar in a prestigious establishment like this is bad for our business.”

Toothless old Jack grinned at the woman sarcastically. “See, lady. Did not I tell you that I did not want to come here in the first place? Now can I get out of here? “

The woman turned to the restaurant manager and smiled.

“Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?” she asked.

“Of course I am,” the manager answered irritatingly. “Their weekly meetings are held in one of our conference rooms.”

“And you make enough of money at these weekly meetings by renting the conference room and catering food?”

“What business is that of yours?” the manager snorted.

“I, Sir, am the president and CEO of that company. My name is Penelope Eddy.”

“Oh,” the manager gasped.

Penelope Eddy smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.”

She glanced at the police officer stifling a giggle and said, “Would you like to join us and have something to eat, officer?”

“No thanks,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.”

“Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee?” Penelope asked.

“Yes. That would be very nice,” replied the officer.

The manager turned on his heel. “I will get your coffee for you right away, officer.”

As they watched the manager hurrying away, the police officer said: “You certainly put him in his place.”

“That was not my intent,” she smiled. “Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.”

Penelope stared intently at the bemused Jack and asked him: “Sir, do you remember me?”

Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. “I think so .. I mean … You do look familiar.”

“I am a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I have even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.”

The police officer could not believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

“I was just out of college,” the woman began. “I had come to the city looking for a job, but I could not find anything. Finally, I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for hours. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”

Jack lit up with a smile.

“Now I remember,” he said. “I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”

“Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over, I saw you put the cash for my food in the cash register. I knew then that everything would be alright.”

“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.

“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually, I started my own business. With the help of God, I prospered.”

She opened her purse and pulled out a business card and gave it to Jack.

“When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He is the personnel director of my company. I’ will talk to him now and I am certain he will find something for you to do around the office.” She smiled. “I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you.”

Tears welled in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he asked.

“Don’t thank me,” the Penelope answered. “To God goes the glory. He led me to you.”

Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the Penelope Eddy paused at the entrance before going their separate ways. “Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said.

“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,” he answered. “Thank you. I saw a miracle today madam, something that I will never forget. And … And thank you for the coffee.”

MATTHEW 25:34-40

Then the king will say to those on his right,

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say,

‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

And the king will say to them in reply,

‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

P.S.: There are many versions of this story circulating on the Internet. This is my version adapted from some of them. The 2008 book “Reminisces of Happy Times” by Robert Wiley, is a collection of humorous and inspirational pieces, many of which are known to be fictional, compiled by the author from other sources. This story appeared under the title “The Lifestyle of a Street Man.” So, that book it is not the original source of this tale. To be frank, I do not know where this story originated and whether Ms. Penelope Eddy, and her banking firm Eddy and Associates really existed.

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A Few Trivia from the Bible


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Just for Laughs!

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The Holy Bible

Question: How did Adam and Eve feel when expelled from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23-24)?
Answer: They were really put out.

Question: What excuse did Adam give to his children as to why he no longer lived in Eden?
Answer: “Your mother ate us out of house and home”  for it says in Genesis 3:6
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (New International Version ©2011)

Question: What is one of the first things that Adam and Eve did after they were kicked out?
Answer: They really raised Cain.

Question: Who was the greatest financier in the Bible?
Answer: Noah — he was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.

Question: The ark was built in 3 stories. The top one had a window to let in light. How did the bottom two stories get light?
Answer: They used floodlights.

Question: Why didn’t Noah go fishing?
Answer: He only had two worms.

Question: How do we know that they played cards in the ark?
Answer: Because Noah sat on the deck

Question: Where is the first tennis match mentioned in the Bible?
Answer: When Joseph served in Pharaoh’s court.

Question: Why did Moses and his followers wander in the desert for 40 years?
Answer: They didn’t want to ask directions.

Question: Which of Yahweh’s servants was the Bible’s most shameless lawbreaker?
Answer: Moses, because he broke all 10 commandments at once.

Question: Which area of the Promised Land was especially wealthy?
Answer: The area around the Jordan where the banks kept overflowing.

Question: Which Bible character had no parents?
Answer: Joshua, son of Nun (Joshua 1:1).

Question: Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible?
Answer: Samson — he brought the house down (Judges 16:30).

Question: What kind of man was Boaz before he got married?
Answer: Ruth-less.

Question: Who is the greatest baby-sitter mentioned in the Bible?
Answer: David – he rocked Goliath to sleep.

Question: Why was Goliath so surprised when David hit him with a slingshot?
Answer: The thought had never entered his head before.

Question: Did King David ride a motorcycle?
Answer: Yes. David’s Triumph could be heard throughout the land.

Question: Who was the first drug addict in the Bible?
Answer: Nebuchadnezzar — he was on grass for seven years.

Question: How do we know that Job went to a chiropractor?
Answer: Because Job said: “All was well with me, but he shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target” (Job 16:12 – New
International Version ©2011)

Question: In what vehicle did the appostles travel on the day of Pentecost?
Answer: Honda Accord. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” (Acts 2:1 – King James 2000 Bible ©2003)

Question: What vehicle would have been used by the apostles as described in 2 Corinthians 4:8, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but
not in despair;” (New International Version ©2011)
Answer: Volkswagen Bug.

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