Think Good Thoughts is a program developed by Family Rosary to help teach the history of the Rosary. It consists of an initial discussion period of 30 min, then a fun activity of about 30 min. The goal is to introduce the basics of the history of the Rosary, as well as create interest and engagement among the audience.
1. Discussion: approximate time ½ hour and depends on size of group:
a. Use of Stones:
- In the Old Testament the extended family would gather together to pray the prayers they had learned in the synagogue called Psalms (a book of the Bible that consists of 150 poems and hymns to God, traditionally attributed to King David) and there are 150 of them.
- Most of the people at that time could not read, so they collected 150 stones into a leather bag, one for each Psalm.
- When it came time to pray they would take out a stone and try to remember as much of the Psalm prayer as they could.
- If they could not remember the words to the Psalm they would simply rub the stone and Think A Good Thought. They would use the stone as something that would draw them into a spirit of prayer.
- In the early centuries (2nd Century to 9th Century) of monasticism Christian Monks used the same method to keep track of their prayers.
- They prayed the Psalms using 150 stones or beads, which they threaded together.
- Some tied knots in a rope that they wore around their waist.
- The first common prayer the monks prayed together was the Our Father 150 times.
- While saying the prayers out loud, they were encouraged to think about the events from the life of Jesus and how they related to their own lives. Their meditation on the Psalms was giving way to a meditation on the life and mysteries of Jesus.
- As devotion to the Blessed Mother increased, some of the Our Fathers that were said in common were replaced by a devotional, scripture-based prayer to the Blessed Virgin, ‘Hail Mary, full of grace…”
- We say five “decades” of beads four times, one for each set of Mysteries of the Rosary. Each decade begins and ends with another bead that helps us “keep track” of where we are in the prayer. We are encouraged to meditate on the mysteries of the life of Jesus and relate these mysteries to our own life.
Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton, CSC, the founder of Family Rosary, believed and taught that the Rosary was a prayer for every age. The attention of little children could be held for these few minutes of prayer simply by fingering the beads. Someone else might actually dwell intently on the words that were being said. Someone else might meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary as the mysteries of life. And still someone else might be completely lost in a spirit of contemplation. There are many creative ways to use this simple prayer as an individual or as a group looking to pray together.
2. Activity: approximate time ½ hour and depends on size of group and space available.
Begins after the discussion above. Have the group form a circle either sitting or standing:
- Each group receives a ball of yarn.
- Have them keep in mind what they have just learned about the connection between prayer and good thoughts
- They can either pass the ball of yarn around the circle or create a “Web” by passing it back and forth across the circle.
- Challenge the group to undo the web working together. This shows their interdependence.
- Gather a bunch of stones in a basket or leather bag.
- Have them keep in mind what they have just learned about the connection between stones and the psalms
- Distribute the stones
- While they rub the stones, help everyone realize that to Think Good Thoughts is to pray.
- Relate the story of Jeremy’s Egg.
- The egg is a symbol of resurrection, new life.
- There is an ancient Greek icon that shows a picture of Mary Magdalene standing in front of the empty tomb holding an egg. Distribute plastic eggs to the group.
3. Closing: approx time 5 minutes
Explain to everyone that our hope here is to have an opportunity to share a good thought, a prayer, and to show how our prayers and our faith are what bind us together.
As each person puts their stone, the “prayer” in the open plastic egg, they snap the egg closed over their piece of yarn. When the circle is completed what we have constructed is a Rosary, a symbol of our faith and our connectedness through prayer.
You may want to hang this in your classroom or at home as a reminder of this prayer experience or you may want to cut the yarn so that each participant can take their egg home, explain it to family members and have it as a reminder of their unity with their group. You may also come up with other symbolic gestures that would be meaningful for your group.