Rule of the Theotokos/ Eastern Rosary

 

The Rule of the Theotokos (Byzantine Rosary)

The Rule of the Theotokos is the Marian Rosary in a form which is indigenous to the Byzantine East, especially the Russian Church. Here is a brief account of its history and significance:

It is well known that Saint Seraphim of Sarov (1759 – 1833) prayed a form of the Rosary. Saint Seraphim’s Rule of the Theotokos consisted in one hundred and fifty repetitions of the Angelic Salutation, divided into fifteen decades. He said the Our Father only once at the beginning. The theotokion Open unto us the gate of compassion and a specific petition to Our Lady followed each decade. He ended his Rule with It is truly meet.

There is a remarkable parallel in this with the history of the Rosary in the West. In Saint Dominic’s time (1170 – 1221), Our Lady’s Psalter had fifteen decades of Aves, but there were as yet no appointed mysteries. The fifteen mysteries as we know them today are a later Dominican use which Pope Saint Pius V, himself a Dominican, codified in 1569.

Another important parallel is that in both the East and the West, tradition holds that the Rosary is not merely a pious human invention, but the Queen of Heaven herself gave it through private revelation. (This does not exclude a process of organic development within the Church.)

Saint Seraphim maintained that this rule of prayer had been given by the Mother of God to a monk in the Thebaid of Egypt in the early eighth century. He also lamented that the Orthodox had forgotten about it. He taught all his spiritual children to pray the Rule, claiming that this prayer is more important for obtaining Our Lady’s protection than any other devotion in her honor, including akathists and canons. In his cell he kept a book in which he recorded the many miracles reported to him as a result of its practice.

A plan of meditations which embrace the whole life of the Theotokos was devised by Bishop Seraphim (Zvezdinsky) of Dmitrov. He prayed the complete fifteen-decade Rule daily and encouraged all Christians to do likewise. Murdered by the Communists in 1937, he is a Holy New Hieromartyr of the Russian Church. The decade meditations given here are substantially the same as those offered by Saint Seraphim Zvezdinsky.

In the Encyclopedia of Orthodoxy (Moscow 2003), the Russian Church commends the Rule of the Theotokos to the Orthodox faithful.

For Catholics of the Byzantine Rite, daily praying the Rule of the Theotokos is a most appropriate devotion according to the mind of the Church: that we should cultivate our authentic spiritual tradition. It is thus a beautiful response to the urgent requests of Our Lady of Fatima that all her children should pray the Rosary.

Introductory Prayers

IN THE NAME of the Father + and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. All: Amen.

Glory to thee, + our God, glory to thee.

O heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, who art everywhere present and fillest all things; Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life: come and dwell within us, cleanse us of all stain, and save our souls, O gracious Lord.

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Throughout Pascha, instead of Glory & O heavenly King, take the Paschal Troparion:

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. (3 times: Leader, others, all in unison)

From Ascension until Pentecost, after the Sign of the Cross, continue the customary beginning:

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Holy God, + Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (3 times)

Glory to the Father + and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us from our sins. Master, pardon our iniquities. Holy God, visit and heal our infirmities for thy name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy. (3 times)

Glory to the Father + and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. 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.

Leader: For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, of the Father + and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. All: Amen.

Lord, have mercy. (12 times: Leader 6 times; others 6 times)

Glory to the Father + and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Come, let us worship + and fall down before our King and God.
Come, let us worship + and fall down before Christ, our King and God.
Come, let us worship + and fall down before Christ Himself, our King and our God.

Psalm 50

Alternate by sentences between the leader and others.

HAVE MERCY upon me, O God, according to thy great mercy; according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out mine iniquity.

Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me.

Against thee only have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight; that thou mightest be justified in thy words, and prevail when thou art judged.

For behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

For behold, thou hast loved truth; the unclear and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made clear to me.

Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop and I shall be clean; thou shalt wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

Thou shalt make me to hear joy and gladness; the bones which thou hast broken shall rejoice.

Turn away thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and steady me with a guiding spirit.

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and the ungodly shall be converted unto thee.

Deliver me from blood-guiltiness O God, thou God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall declare thy praise.

For hadst thou desired sacrifice, I would have given it thee; thou delightest not in burnt offerings.

Sacrifices to God are a contrite spirit; a contrite and humble heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Do good O Lord, in thy good will unto Zion; that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.

Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifice of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offerings; then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

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During Bright Week, take the following Paschal Antiphon instead of Psalm 50.

Leader: Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered, and let them that hate him flee from before his face.

All: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Leader: As smoke vanisheth, so let them vanish; as wax melteth before the fire.

All: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Leader: So let sinners perish at the presence of God, and let the righteous rejoice.

All: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Leader: This is the day that the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

All: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Leader: Glory to the Father + and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

All: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

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The Creed

I BELIEVE in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages: Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man.

He was also crucified for us under Pontius Pilate and suffered and was buried.

And he rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures.

And he ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of the Father.

And he shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father: who together with the Father + and the Son is worshiped and glorified: who spoke by the prophets.

In one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.

I look for the resurrection of the dead.

And the life of the age to come.

Amen.

Prologue to the Decades

Say the Angelic Salutation 3 times (Leader, others, all in unison); then the following Theotokion once:

HAIL, O Virgin Theotokos, Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls.

Glory to the Father + and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen. Open unto us the gate of compassion, O blessed Theotokos; hoping in thee, we shall not fail; through thee may we be delivered from adversities; for thou art the salvation of the Christian People.

The Decade Pattern

The leader announces the decade meditation, using the sentences below. Then the following prayers are said:

1. Our Father (All in unison)
2. Hail, O Virgin Theotokos (10 times, alternating between the leader and others)
3. Glory…both now… Open unto us the gate of compassion (All in unison)

The Decade Meditations

The Nativity Cycle (Morning, or Mondays and Thursdays)

Let us remember the Birth of the Theotokos. Let us pray for mothers, fathers, and children.

Let us remember the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Theotokos. Let us pray for those who have lost their way and fallen away from the Church.

Let us remember the Annunciation of the Blessed Theotokos. Let us pray for the soothing of sorrows and the consolation of those who grieve.

Let us remember the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin to the Righteous Elizabeth. Let us pray for the reunion of the separated.

Let us remember the Birth of Christ. Let us pray for the rebirth of souls; for new life in Christ.

The Passion Cycle (Midday, or Tuesdays and Fridays)

Let us remember the Meeting of the Lord, and the words of Saint Simeon to the Theotokos: “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also.” Let us pray that the Theotokos will meet our souls at the hour of our death, arrange that we receive the Holy Mysteries with our last breath, and lead our souls through the terrible torments.

Let us remember the Flight of the Theotokos with the Infant-God into Egypt. Let us pray that the Theotokos will help us avoid temptation in this life and deliver us from misfortunes.

Let us remember the Three-day loss of the Boy Jesus in Jerusalem, and the sorrow of the Theotokos as she sought him. Let us pray, begging the Theotokos for the constant repetition of the Jesus Prayer.

Let us remember the Miracle performed in Cana of Galilee, when the Lord turned water into wine at the word of the Theotokos: “They have no wine.” Let us ask the Theotokos – who is quick to hear – for help in our affairs and deliverance from need.

Let us remember the Theotokos standing by the Cross of the Lord, when grief pierced through her heart like a sword. Let us pray to the Theotokos for the strengthening of our souls and the banishment of despondency.

The Resurrection Cycle (Evening, or Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays)

Let us remember the Resurrection of Christ, and ask the Theotokos in prayer to resurrect our souls and give us a new courage for spiritual feats.

Let us remember the Ascension of Christ, at which the Theotokos was present. Let us pray and ask the Queen of Heaven to raise up our souls from earthly and worldly diversions, and direct them to striving for higher things.

Let us remember the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Theotokos. Let us pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.”

Let us remember the Dormition of the Blessed Theotokos, and ask for a peaceful and serene end.

Let us remember the glory of the Theotokos, with which the Lord crowned her after she was taken up from earth to heaven. Let us pray to the Queen of Heaven not to abandon the faithful who are on earth, but to defend them from every evil, covering them with her protecting veil.

The Dismissal

IT IS TRULY MEET to call thee blessed, O Theotokos; the ever-blessed, all-immaculate, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim; who without corruption gavest birth to God the Word, and art truly Theotokos, we magnify thee.

Glory to the Father + and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. (Throughout Pascha, substitute Christ is risen, once.)

Lord, have mercy. (3 times)

Leader: Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ + our God, have mercy on us and save us. All: Amen.

Post-Dismissal Hymns

Beneath thy compassion we take refuge, O Theotokos; despise not our supplications in time of trouble, but deliver us from dangers, O only pure, only blessed one.

O most glorious, Ever-virgin Mary, Mother of Christ our God: accept our prayers and present them to thy Son and our God; that he may, for thy sake, enlighten and save our souls.

(taken from http://therosemarytree.blogspot.com/2009/01/rule-of-theotokos-byzantine-rosary.html)