Lips must move during Rosary


Dr. Mark Miravalle said that in Indulgences of the past, it was specifically noted that at the least a person’s lips had to be moving when praying the Rosary. Is this still the case in a current Indulgences guide? Does anyone have an old one and can share how it was previously worded?


I have heard this myself somewhere before, but never paid much attention to it. While I do tend to actually say the Rosary out loud, softly to myself, I can’t possibly imagine the Blessed Mother would actually care whether you simply thought, said or mumbled the words. :o


I don’t know what the old guide says, but here’s what the new guide says:

Recitation of the Marian Rosary

A plenary indulgence is granted when the rosary is recited in a church or oratory or when it is recited in a family, a religious community, or a pious association. A partial indulgence is granted for its recitation in all other circumstances.

(The rosary is a prayer formula divided into fifteen decades of Hail Mary’s with the Lord’s Prayer separating each of these decades. During each of these decades we recall in devout meditation the mysteries of our redemption.)

It has become customary to call but five such decades the “rosary” also. Concerning this customary usage then, the following norms are given as regards a plenary indulgence.

  1. The recitation of a third of the rosary is sufficient for obtaining the plenary indulgence, but these five decades must be recited without interruption.
  1. Devout meditation on the mysteries is to be added to the vocal prayer.
  1. In its public recitation the mysteries must be announced in accord with approved local custom, but in its private recitation it is sufficient for the Christian faithful simply to join meditation on the mysteries to the vocal prayer.
  1. In the Eastern Churches where recitation of the Marian rosary as a devotional practice is not found, the patriarchs can establish other prayers in honor of the blessed Virgin Mary which will have the same indulgences as those attached to the rosary, (e.g. in the Byzantine churches, the Akathist hymn, or the office Paraclisis.)

-The Handbooks of Indulgences: Norms and Grants. New York: Catholic Book Publishing, 1991. Pp. 79-80.

The repeated use of “recitation” as well as the several references to “the vocal prayer” do seem to indicate that the rosary ought to be said aloud. Perhaps someone more familiar than me with the Latin word translated as “recitation” could offer more insight on that point.


I didn’t know that the five decades had to be said without interruption.:frowning: I try to say the Rosary every day and many times I’ll say a couple of decades and then come back later and finish. Is it wrong to do this?
(The quote button didn’t get the part of the message I’m referring to).


i heard this too. i know that historically it was “telling the beads” and part of the point was praying aloud… and essentially “public witness” of the prayers… so maybe thats where it came from?

i do know that its much harder to get distracted when i am at least moving my lips, and /or saying the prayers aloud.
of course “open up my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise” could enter into it…

not an expert, just love the Rosary


Vocalization cannot possibly be mandatory for a setting like an Adoration Chapel.


which may be why “merely moving the lips” is permitted for the indulgence?

as to interrupted rosaries… its perfectly all right to say a decade here , a HM there… its just not sufficient for the indulgence as stated by the church… it is still a worthwhile prayer!


The term, “vocal prayer” is used in this context to mean saying set prayers such as the Our Father, Hail Mary, Rosary, etc. This is contrasted to “mental prayer,” which is conversational prayer with God in one’s own words. It does not necessarily mean praying aloud, although of course, that certainly may be done.



It’s not wrong to do this. Keep in mind, that saying the five decades without interruption is a condition for receiving the plenary indulgence. If you don’t say it continuously, you will still get a partial indulgence. But, if you’re praying the rosary by yourself at home or in the car, you won’t get a plenary indulgence anyway, even if you do say it without interruption. :slight_smile:

Great point! Good distinction to keep in mind. Of course, I automatically jump to the conclusion that “vocal” means “out loud”, but that is not how the Church uses the term.


Joe and baltobetsy, thanks for bringing that up. Do you know of other examples of the Church’s use of the term “vocal prayer” in the sense you both affirm here?


It’s in the Catechism (CCC 2700-2724). The Church lists three major “expressions of prayer”:

*]Vocal Prayer
*]Contemplative Prayer


I would think that if it’s your intention to say the Rosary, then that is what matters, not whether you say it out loud or silently. The Lord knows what’s in our hearts!
In a similar vein, I was watching show on EWTN called (I think) “The Web” where two priests answer email questions from viewers. Someone asked which mysteries were to be said on which days of the week and what if someone should say the wrong mystery group on the wrong day? Father Trigilio answered and said that this person shouldn’t worry too much about this as long as he/she said the Rosary, that was the main thing. This leads me to think that maybe we’re being too persnickety in worrying if it’s better to say the Rosary by moving our lips or silently. Of course it’s better for more than one person to pray together but if that’s not possible, I’m sure the Lord accepts any of our prayers from the heart.:slight_smile:


2701 is a good example, referencing the Our Father as a vocal prayer. 2722 associates it with the body united with the spirit. Interestingly, in Dr. Miravalle’s same lecture, he mentioned how the use of the beads incorporates the body. Thus, I would think even a person in the Adoration chapel, saying the Rosary silently, yet utilizing the beads, can be properly said to be exercising the vocal prayer of the Rosary in an oratory, thus qualifying for the plenary indulgence. Would you agree?


The only way I can truly meditate on the mysteries is when I pray it silently, often not even moving my lips. I can get lost in the mysteries and the scene becomes so real.
Of course, I will pray the rosary if I walk into a church before a daily Mass and it is being prayed in a group, but I much prefer praying it alone and unheard. Even if there is only a partial indulgence, I still pray it this way. I know we can’t base our faith on feelings, but I sure feel closer to God when I pray it this way, and I am much more inclined to pray more than one rosary a day when my voice isn’t tired. This morning I prayed the rosary before getting out of bed, before even remembering that it was the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. I could not have prayed out loud because my voice doesn’t work at 5:30 a.m.! :slight_smile:


Well, if in an oratory I would still move my lips silently. When I say something (or teach it) I remember it and it becomes more a part of my thought process, I’ve found. Possibly a stronger “pathway” is made in the brain circuitry.
I also am really bothered by the human tendency to do the easiest, most minimal amount of anything possible, especially as pertains to God. If the Church has said that in order to get an indulgence that we must “recite” it, and since listening to the Church is listening to Christ, then obedience tells me to follow it as closely as I can.:shrug:


Not trying to do minimization. We’re trying to deduce exactly what “vocal prayer” means in the sense the Church uses it and how it relates to the Rosary. The Rosary is rooted in the union of physical activity along with the spiritual assent of prayer as near as I can tell. In this way, the Rosary is an Incarnational prayer, uniting the physical and spiritual. If someone is comfortable not moving their lips but still using the beads, it does not eliminate the physical part. That is what I asked Joe what he thought. Other opinions welcome too. :o


That sounds reasonable to me.


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