image003Utter amazement came over me when I first read about the “Pearls of Life”. “What the …?” I thought. My grandmother had asked me if I knew them as she had heard about them on the radio where it was claimed that there were already Catholics preferring them over the Rosary. – ???

The background:

This is a tool for tactile prayer, reflection and meditation. It was invented by the Swedish bishop Martin Lönnebo. The first version was given to us in 1996 and is now widely used in Scandinavian countries. In the bishop’s own words it is meant for spiritual exercises in “Courage in facing life, zest for life, self-control and a life close to God”.

There are 18 pearls: the pearl of God, the pearl about me, the pearl of Baptism, the desert pearl, two pearls of love, three secret pearls, the pearl of night and the pearl of Resurrection, plus six pearls of silence in between.

In Germany, the Lutheran “Nordelbische Kirche” (as far as I know not one of the most conservative Lutheran provinces, to put it mildly) seems to have been active in introducing them. The way they write about them makes the matter even more dubious than the English text linked above. They also deny that the thing is a “Protestant Rosary”:

Unlike the Catholic Rosary with its pre-determined prayers, the Pearls of Life open up reflection about one’s own way of life and one’s individual relationship to God and therefore surpass [a simple string of beads for prayer].

Ever read anything about praying the Rosary before you wrote that? Like, that you meditate on the mysteries, reflecting on their importance for your life and your relationship to God, for example?

Maybe for some people, this thing really is a help to prayer. But I cannot help thinking: Why on earth don’t you just stick to the things we have – the Holy Rosary and the Jesus Prayer?

(Plus: A Rosary looks so much nicer than this!)