Based on most of the historical research, the development of the practice of using beads in prayer has a very significant connection to the practice of the early monks in their Liturgy of the Hours, which began with the early Christian ascetics and hermits of the third and fourth centuries. These holy men desired to separate themselves completely from the vices and temptations of society as well as some of the corruption that was creeping into the church, and they developed strict disciplines to keep their minds and bodies focused on spiritual things. The Liturgy of the Hours (the equivalent of the Office, which is the required obligation of every Roman Catholic cleric to pray through daily) originally included reading through the 150 Psalms. These were broken into fifteen decades of ten psalms that would be recited or prayed at various prescribed times during the day. These daily readings were a condensed version of the entire Liturgy of the Hours and were often called the breviary (from the Latin brevis, meaning “short or concise”).
The above is a short expert from Chapter 15, page 82 of Roaming Catholics: Ending the wandering to embrace the wonder by Rev. Kenneth Behr Th.D.
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