HOLY TRINITY CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH
CELTIC ORTHODOX BENEDICTINE FATHERS
1703 Macomber Street, Toledo, Ohio 43606
THE USE OF THE CHOTKI IN THE CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH
Bishop Brian J. Kennedy, O.S.B.
The prayer rope (chotki) may also be made of wooden beads, and is worn by all Celtic Orthodox Clergy and many or most other Orthodox Monastic’s in other Jurisdictions of the larger Church Catholic.
It originated in the monastic world as a tool to facilitate the prayer life and spirituality of the Monk. It finds its genesis in the love for the prayer our Savior taught us, the “Our Father”. The Chotki is also, in Celtic Orthodoxy, known as the Pater Noster Beads. It was simply a method to keep track of the 150 “Our Fathers” in the Pater Noster Psalter. The Chotki found an expanded usage in praying the “Jesus Prayer” and the Orthodox Marian Rosary. People saw the Monks praying all 150 Psalms daily and in emulation of this pious practice started praying the 150 Our Fathers daily. In the beginning, farm workers and laborers would place 10 pebbles in their pants pocket and transfer one bead to the other pocket for each Our Father they prayed. This practice gave birth to the Chotki.
The purpose of the monastic exercise of wearing the Chotki on their belt and black cassock is to train the mind to pray without ceasing in response to the commandment given by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 which is echoed in the New Testament writings of Matthew 9:27, Matthew 15:22, Matthew 17:15, Matthew 20:30, Matthew 20:31, Mark 10:47, Mark 10:48, Luke 16:24, Luke 17:13, Luke 18:38, Luke 18:39, Romans 9:15, Romans 11:30, Romans 11:32, 1 Corinthians 7:25, Philippians 2:27, 1 Peter 2:10.
The training and discipline of the mind is important in Celtic Orthodoxy. The mind was to become so conditioned through this spiritual discipline that no matter what the person was doing the mind would learn to automatically, and without conscious thinking, pray the Our Father as taught to us by Jesus.
Even subconsciously when the person was asleep, the Our Father would be on their mind and in their heart and prayed in their mind. The simple wearing of the Chotki, with faith, can be a good defense against the forces of evil that would destroy our soul by leading us into sin.
The Chotki (prayer rope or beads) developed during the first four centuries of Christianity into a practice not just done by the monastic community, but also by lay people who wanted to lead a life that would emulate the spiritual example of their Priests and bring them closer to God in the hope of salvation. The Chotki is the precursor to the modern day Rosary that the Roman Catholic Church implemented as a prayer rule for their Roman Catholic faithful after the Great Schism when the Vatican broke the peace and unity of the undivided church catholic in 1054 AD.
The Chotki is fitted with a Cross which is tied with a tassel. The tassel has its basis as being something to wipe away the “tears of sorrow” of the penitent as he/she prays the decades of the Our Father prayer.
The beads or knots are tied together of Lamb’s wool yarn. This comes from the Orthodox tradition designed to remind the penitent that Jesus is the Lamb of God. The Chotki Prayer Rope or beads are plain and not decorated to reflect the contrition of the person and to remind the person to be humble before the Lord. It is a perfect adjunct to the black cassock worn by Orthodox Monastics, to reflect the monastic view of being dead to the secular world and in mourning for the individual sins of the Monk and also for the sins of the whole world.
Lay people in the Celtic Orthodox tradition often elect to incorporate the Chotki into their secular clothing by wearing the Chotki on their belt, tucked into their pants pockets as an expression of dependency on Jesus and our Heavenly Father. By uniting with Jesus in this wise, we in a more God pleasing fashion, render praise to Jesus and through Jesus render praise to our Heavenly Father.
PICTURE OF THE CHOTKI
PATER NOSTER PSALTER