The traditional aid used for the recitation of the Rosary is the set of beads.
At the most superficial level, the beads often become a simple counting mechanism
to mark the succession of Hail Marys. Yet they can also take on a symbolism
which can give added depth to contemplation.
Here the first
thing to note is the way the beads converge upon the Crucifix,
which both opens and closes the unfolding sequence of prayer. The life
and prayer of believers is centred upon Christ. Everything begins from him, everything
leads towards him, everything, through him, in the Holy Spirit, attains to the Father.
As a counting
mechanism, marking the progress of the prayer, the beads evoke the unending
path of contemplation and of Christian perfection. Blessed Bartolo Longo
saw them also as a "chain" which links us to God. A chain, yes, but a sweet chain;
for sweet indeed is the bond to God who is also our Father. A "filial"
chain which puts us in tune with Mary, the "handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38)
and, most of all, with Christ himself, who, though he was in the form of God,
made himself a "servant" out of love for us (Phil 2:7).
way to expand the symbolism of the beads is to let them remind us of our
many relationships, of the bond of communion and fraternity which unites us
all in Christ.