Rosary at Mass?

When I was at Mass today I saw something strange. Right before the Eucharistic Prayer, some lady got a Rosary out of her purse, knelt down and starting praying it. It was pretty obvious that she wasnt paying attention to Mass. She didn’t receive, but is that even allowed?

There is one church in the city where I used to live which has five Masses one straight after the other on Sunday mornings. People would often arrive for their chosen Mass during the preceding one.

Confession is also offered the whole time, so they might confess prior to their preferred Mass and be praying in line for the confessional. Or just quietly do their pre-Mass devotions and prayers. All during the preceding Mass.

No, there is nothing prohibiting people privately praying during Mass, unless they are being disruptive in some way (eg saying the Rosary aloud)

What you described was the norm for about 10% of the Mass attendees I used to see in church in the late 1950’s – a time which many seem to think was the high point in liturgical reverence and devotion.

I remember seeing that far more before we got the “novus ordo.”

what is wrong with praying the rosary? why make a judgement that she “wasn’t paying attention”? If she wasn’t receiving but just kneeling and praying especially the rosary, maybe there was some deep conviction about something and this was her response. Maybe we need more people like her willing to pray at Mass and not receive if convicted.

I’m not sure why anyone would feel compelled to do that. The Mass is prayer in its most perfected form. I don’t know if it’s forbidden, though I doubt there’s any reason to do anything about it unless it’s disruptive.

Pope Pius XII spoke on this very practice in his encyclical Mediator Dei:

(108) Many of the faithful are unable to use the Roman missal even though it is written in the vernacular; nor are all capable of understanding correctly the liturgical rites and formulas. So varied and diverse are men’s talents and characters that it is impossible for all to be moved and attracted to the same extent by community prayers, hymns and liturgical services. Moreover, the needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are they always constant in the same individual. Who, then, would say, on account of such a prejudice, that all these Christians cannot participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them.

We don’t see it as much these days because the rites are almost always in the vernacular (a different debate altogether), but it is, in fact, a perfectly fine way to enter into a fruitful participation in the Mass.

i see.All valid points. And i guess i should go to confession for judging…

quick question, whats novus ordo?

Fr F.X, Lasance authored several prayer books in the early 1900’s. In at least two of them, the Eucharistic Rosary was mentioned and even promoted as an option to assist Holy Mass. The meditations of the Eucharistic Rosary ties each Mystery to the blessed Sacrament.

Here are the meditations for the Joyful mysteries :

**The Eucharistic Rosary : Meditations taken from the prayer book With God
by Fr Francis Xavier Lasance , Benziger Brothers 1911

                                The First Joyful Mystery
                                    The Annunciation

O Jesus, born of Thy Father from all eternity; filled with an incomprehensible love for men, Thou didst become man in the operation of the Holy Ghost, humbling Thyself to such a degree to take the form of a servant. The same charity hath prompted Thee to perpetuate, in the Eucharist, this mystery of annihilation and love, even improving on it by becoming the food of our souls.
Divine Jesus, we adore Thee in these unfathomable abasements, and we beg of Thee, through the intercession of Thy Holy Mother, a deep and heartfelt humility.

                            The Second Joyful Mystery
                                      The Visitation

Divine Saviour, from the womb of Mary, wherein Thou didst become incarnate, Thou breathest fourth sanctity into John the Baptist and benediction on the whole house of Elizabeth. From the Host wherein Thou dwellest, Thou spreadest all over the world the influence and grace of Thy love throughout the whole Church.
O divine Jesus, full of love and kindness, we adore Thee, and we beg of Thee, through the intercession of Thy Holy Mother, perfect charity toward our neighbors.

                          The Third Joyful Mystery
                          The Nativity of Our Lord

O King of kings ! Poor indeed, yet most lovely in the crib of Bethlehem, Thou callest the simple and the poor to be Thy first adorers: poorer and no less amiable to the eyes of the faith in the Sacrament of thy love, Thou art still delighted to see around Thy person the humble and the little.
O Jesus, in Thy destitution we adore Thee, to Whom belong all the treasures of the God- head, and we beg of Thee, through the intercession of Thy Holy Mother, detachment of the goods of this world.

                            The Forth Joyful Mystery
              The Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Thou offer Thyself with perfect obedience and love to Thy Father, through the hands of the high priest, as the Victim that is to be immolated on the Cross ; every day also Thou offerest Thyself upon the alter by the hands of the priest, with the same obedience and love as our Victim always sacrificed and always living.
O sweet Victim, we adore Thee and we beg of Thee, through the intercession of Thy Holy Mother, the spirit of obedience and sacrifice.

                          The Fifth Joyful Mystery
              The Finding of Our Lord in the temple

O Jesus, Thou withdrawest and leavest Joseph and Mary in tears to do the work of Thy Father; but Thou fillest them with joy when they find Thee in the midst of the Doctors amazed at Thy knowledge and wisdom. Veiled in the Eucharist, Thou impartest there divine teachings, and Thou fillest with joy those who seek Thee with their whole heart.
O hidden God !, we adore Thee and we beg of Thee, through the intercession of Thy Holy Mother, the grace of seeking Thee with a lively and persevering faith in the Sacrament of Thy love. **

If anyone wants to see all the meditations, go here to download (free) With God and then use your shift/control/n keys to go to pg 547

Not sure if your judgement was of a serious gravity, and therefore, if it is matter for confession. You may be judging her actions (not her heart), and you may have simply been confused. In any case, I’m never one to discourage sacramental confession. Ask your confessor if you are scrupulous in this one regard so as to better inform your conscience.

Novus Ordo is Latin for “New Order”, and it usually refers to the New Mass codified by Pope Paul VI after Vatican II (as opposed to the Traditional Latin Mass). I try to emphasize what the two forms of Mass have in common, therefore I tend to utilize the HOly Father’s terms: Ordinary Form & Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

it might just be scrupulosity. I have been told that I have it. But i feel rather bad

The 1950 edition of the Holy Bible edited by Rev. Fr. John P. O’Connell approves the practice:

“There are many possible ways of being active at Mass, all good, but some better than others. We may use the time of Mass for our prayers, e.g., the rosary, our favorite novena. Hardly a better time could be chosen for prayer than the time of Mass, when the Sacrifice of Calvary is being renewed and the Son of God is sacramentally present upon the Altar.”

Indeed according to Bl. Henry Suso the prayers we make are heard by Christ more graciously in the Holy Eucharist than elsewhere.

If she didn’t receive, then she may not have actually been ‘attending’ that Mass, but doing a private devotion while Mass was being celebrated.

If she did receive, or, if she was attending her obligatory Mass, then she should not have been praying the rosary if this was a Novus Ordo Mass. Not that what she did would have been a grave sin, but the whole purpose of the Novus Ordo was to bring about greater participation in the very prayers of the Eucharist as the primary ‘text’ of communal prayer. Personal devotions should be put aside in favor of a Eucharistic piety, devotion, and worship.

Now, if the Mass was in English, and she didn’t know English, then her participation in the Eucharistic prayer would not have been fully… participatory. And in that case, sure, private devotional prayer would have been OK otherwise.

The Eucharistic Liturgy was reformed after the Council so that the people would not have to have private devotions during Mass, but rather may actively participate in the responses and offer with the priest the Sacrifice of the Mass while listening in their native language. The elimination of Latin from the Liturgy was done primarily so that people, who were not taught Latin or who were poor at Latin, could understand and thereby unite their hearts to the words at Mass.

The simplification of the rites and rubrics at Mass was also a concession to the people so they could actively participate in the Mass as the people who share in Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and kingly office by virtue of baptism. Saying private devotions at Mass in the reformed rite not only is against the intention of the revision, but is a throwback to a time when people came to Mass and were so mystified by it, because they could not understand it not only in Latin but also because it was almost solely the action of priest and server, that they would use devotions they could understand and use instead.

It boggles my mind that after all of the reforms and concessions to the laity by the Church after the Council that once again people would desire to return to the extraordinary form of Mass. Although the previous Missal shows the beauty of European Catholicism in its medieval form, nevertheless most people will never understand Latin nor the complexity of such a service–even though the Pontiff has allowed its use again. In fact once a person can learn Latin and understand the old Missal when the priest and server are saying their parts in the Liturgy it would still lack the level of participation required of the fully initiated People of God. The old Mass does not have, in my view, the renewed appreciation for the theology articulated in Vatican II on the lay apostolate and the dignity of our baptism as calling us to a mature, articulate, and active ministry not only in the Liturgical celebration but also in the Church and in the world.

Many people see the older rite of Mass as superior in beauty and majesty than the newer rite, but what I see in the new rite of Mass is a return to a more apostolic and participatory celebration which uses the gifts of all the People of God and not merely of the priest and his server. The newer form of Mass by its very nature rejects individualism and mere personal piety during the Eucharistic celebration of the assembly united to the priest. That said, it is a joy to have great diversity of rites in the Catholic Church and each are used by the Spirit to lead us to our end in God.

don’t worry about it at all.

Again, for those who posted saying that she should not be praying her Rosary at Mass, I’d refer them back to Pope Pius XII’s quote above where he specifically says such a practice is fine.

People should not place their personal opinions above the Popes.

I must disagree with two posters who have boldly and haphazardly stated that praying the Rosary during Mass is NOT a form of active participation. This is ‘active participation’ of the highest degree.

Such noble practices should still be promoted and encourage.

I respectfully disagree. Nothing could be further from the truth. More audible participation does not equal more participation overall.

It’s easy to assume that the people just sit there during the TLM/EF, but those who follow along with their missals are fully absorbed into the mass.

**“The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. It is the Sacrifice, dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the altar. If you wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart and mouth all that happens at the altar. Further, you must pray with the priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens at the altar. When acting in this way, you have prayed Holy Mass.”
St Pius X **


We each have our own spiritual hunger, and how we feed and nourish that hunger is not to be ridiculed by our fellow Catholics.

We should focus on eliminating truly distracting things during Mass such as cell phones being left on rather than judging individuals who are simply praying.

As noted, when clergy mention these practices and devotions as options, who can blame the few who embrace them ?

I found this answer from Jimmy Akin.

To my present knowledge, there is no law that expressly forbids one to say the Rosary during Mass, however this is implied by the laws that do exist. The Second Vatican Council and subsequent liturgical legislation have made it abundantly clear that the Church at present desires the faithful to have active, conscious participation in the Mass.

I find it to be an strange practice as the Mass is the highest form of pray, and as the rosary is a private devotion as opposed to the public liturgy. But I guess I see if someone was ignorant of the liturgy and the prayers, then some participation is better than none. To each their own I guess. I sure wouldn’t sweat it.

I also found this answer from Fr. Serpa.

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