There has been a scurrilous rumor circulating around the web for the past few years about so-called “new-age rosaries.” These are plastic rosaries molded onto a white string that comes in various colors. The conspiracy theorists claim that on the crucifix of these rosaries is an intertwined snake. As far as I have determined, this rumor seems to have started in Medjugorje. (If you like, look back to my earlier blog on Medjugorje.) The “new-age rosary” notice on the EWTN web-site was posted to the Q&A Board and does not reflect any type of endorsement from ETWN concerning this hoax. I think this is all non-sense. The supposed serpent on the crucifix is nothing but a squiggly line; part of the cross’ design.
On the internet I found a fascinating interview with Father Michael Skluzacek, a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Baltimore, who is an expert on demonic possession and spiritual warfare. He said that when it comes to the devil, there are two extremes people must avoid. According to Father Skluzacek: “One of them is to think that he doesn’t exist, the other extreme is just to become so obsessed with demons that we think there’s a devil under every rock.”
Here is what St. John of the Cross has to say about the whole obsession with the materiality of the rosary (meaning the actual string of beads) and the preeminence of the prayers:
“…the imperfection commonly found in the use of rosaries. You will hardly meet anyone who does not have some weakness in this matter. They want the rosary to be made in one style rather than another, or that it be of this color or that metal rather than another, or of this or that particular design. One rosary is no more influential with God than another. His answer to the rosary prayer is not dependent on the kind of rosary used. The prayer he hears is that of a simple and pure heart that is concerned only about pleasing God and does not bother about the kind of rosary used…”