During Advent, I bought some Compassion Beads from the San Antonio Peace Center. The idea of a mnemonic method for remembering the elements of compassion appealed to me, and I thought they would make a valuable focus for both prayer and meditation, and it is.
Ten of the bead represent the alphabetical mnemonic:
The 11th, golden bead reminds us of the Golden Rule- "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
While I have only just begun to explore their uses for meditation, I have found them useful as a method for contemplating what I call, "The Stations of Compassion."
Similar to the Stations of the Cross, I use each bead as an opportunity to visualize an event, either from the Holy Tradition, or events I have witnessed recently, that embodies that principle. I like the practice to be spontaneous so I can also gauge my own mental state and attitude through the meditation and make the corrections needed at the time.
I have used these beads to facilitate many kinds of prayer: from the simple repetition of the principles to the more elaborate and extemporaneous prayer.
When I first saw these beads, I was reminded of St Francis, Canticle of the Sun, in which he prayed to personified creatures and principles to better understand our relationship to them and to the world.
The formula is simple, "Be Praised, My Lord, through Sister/Brother (Element), through which/whom (blessing is received)."
I don't allow myself to become rigid about the gender of the principles, and instead take a moment to meditate on why I said, "Brother Compassion" or "Sister Compassion." Don't over analyze the choice, but let it be whatever it is at the moment. It can be instructive.
May you be filled with compassion and the causes of compassion, and free from apathy and the causes of apathy.