In the next few posts I want to talk about, and present, an Eastern/Byzantine tradition that is largely unknown among Easterners; the Prayer Rule of the Theotokos. This prayer rule is effectively the Byzantine rosary and predates the Dominican rosary that is popular in the Roman Catholic Church. Many is the time that I've spoken with folks who were raised in the Byzantine Catholic tradition who have said something along the lines of, "We do not pray the rosary. The closest equivalent we have to the rosary is the Akathist of the Mother of God." In a certain sense, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out, this is true. But it's true only in the sense that the two - i.e. the rosary and the Akathist - have a directly liturgical connection. For all other intents and purposes the Prayer Rule of the Theotokos is the Byzantine equivalent to the rosary.
Unlike the rosary - and perhaps more similar to the Jesus Prayer -, the Rule of the Theotokos actually has several variations. In the posts that follow I will present only two such variations: that used by St. Seraphim Zvezdinsky and that used by St. Seraphim of Sarov. The rule according to St. Seraphim Zvezdinsky seems to be the more common and popular rule. It should be noted, however, that the rule itself can, and often does, vary from person to person.