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 Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WisconsinOctober 29, 2004 Issue 

Fashion and faith

Some choosing to wear faith around their necks through a necklace made from a rosary

By Patricia Kasten
Compass Associate Editor

We've all heard the old saw, "You wear your heart on your sleeve," meaning that your thoughts are obvious.

It seems that many people are now using fashion to make a statement about their faith - or at least a statement that they are searching for faith.

Remember WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets? The newest craze, started in Japan and spreading through Europe to the States, are rosary necklaces. Sometimes they are full rosaries; sometimes shorter versions - with a clasp in the middle of the third decade.

Want one? An online search for "rosary necklace" brought 3,690 hits at Google. EBay was selling one for $149.98 in 14K gold. (PriceTool had an 18K version for $109.99.)

However, the biggest sellers of rosary necklaces are religious stores. In Japan, the main purchasers are young men, according to UCA, an Asian news church agency in Thailand. In London, buyers are mainly teenagers of both sexes.

Secularization of a sacred object? Or a way to evangelize? UCA reported that the manager of a parish store in Nagano, Japan, found that explaining the necklace as "an important prayer tool for Catholics" and offering to show buyers a Catholic place of prayer led to trips to the nearby parish chapel.

In London, religious goods suppliers expressed concern that rosary purchasers might not understand that the beads are for prayer and, when blessed, are sacramentals. So the bishops' conference of England and Wales has issued an explanatory leaflet - complete with prayers of the rosary - to be readily available with each one sold.

Of course, many people wearing rosaries aren't reflecting upon what that rosary means. Nor will they pray the prayers. It's just fashion for them. But they will still be making a statement. People will see the rosary and reflect on what it means.

A reader of The Catholic Community Forum, a website of Liturgical Publications of St. Louis, may have expressed the possible side effects best: "Wearing a rosary will keep one's mind in the God consciousness and bring blessings and Divine protection. It also blesses everyone who sees you wear it, and leaves an imprint upon their soul. It can remind them that God loves them when they're sad and depressed, lonely and confused, and bring them hope. It also shines God's light into a troubled and darkened world."

When someone wears a rosary necklace, it may not be their faith on their sleeve - or around their neck - but it is our faith. A faith we're called to proclaim.

So how should we do that when we see a rosary necklace? Complimenting the wearer might be a great conversation starter. Silent prayer is also powerful. And commending them to the Lord's care will draw the wearer into the prayer-filled Communion of Saints.

Finally, remember that God might be sending them your way for your benefit. That rosary going by in the mall could be the reminder you need that God loves you and wants you to come home.

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