Can We Pray the Rosary During Mass?

We are in the month of Mary our Mother and the Mother of God. The Rosary is something we should focus on more than even during this month and especially in October. Before the 1969/70 Ordinary Form missal, there was the Extraordinary Form of the Mass which was in Latin. Many Catholics did not understand the Latin or what was going on so they took out their Rosaries and prayed. Others prayed from devotional books or even chaplets approved by the Church. 

Today, most Masses around the world are in the vernacular.  Can we pray the Rosary and other devotions during the Mass? Some say no. They claim the Mass and its rites are more important and should be focused on first. I remember years ago during a South Bronx Vicariate meeting where a lay woman presented us with fliers claiming that we cannot pray the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament. The lady was being overzealous and clearly did not do her research properly.  I corrected her errors during the meeting before she caused a scandal among the other laypeople present. 

While it is true that the Mass and its rites are more important, this does not mean Catholics cannot pray other prayers during it. Other prayers are allowed as long as they are in harmony with the faith. Pius XII in his encyclical Mediator Dei has this to say:  

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.


PopeLeo XIII even recommended the Rosary to be said during Mass.  In 1883 Pope Leo XIII wrote in his Encyclical Supremi Apostolatus:

“Not only do we earnestly exhort all Christians to give themselves to the recital of the pious devotion of the Rosary publicly or privately in their own house and family, and that unceasingly, but we also desire that the whole of the month of October in this year should be consecrated to the Holy Queen of the Rosary. We decree and order that in the whole Catholic world, during this year, the devotion of the Rosary shall be solemnly celebrated by special and splendid services.

From the first day of next October, therefore, until the second day of the November following, in every parish and, if the ecclesiastical authority deem it opportune and of use, in every chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin – let five decades of the Rosary be recited with the addition of the Litany of Loreto.

We desire that the people should frequent these pious exercises; and we will that either Mass shall be said at the altar, or that the Blessed Sacrament shall be exposed to the adoration of the faithful, Benediction being afterwards given with the Sacred Host to the pious congregation. We highly approve of the confraternities of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin going in procession, following ancient custom, through the town, as a public demonstration of their devotion. And in those places where this is not possible, let it be replaced by more assiduous visits to the churches, and let the fervor of piety display itself by a still greater diligence in the exercise of the Christian virtues.” (English edition, 9/1/1883 n. 8)

So next time you are at Mass and need a little help to focus more, try another prayer such as the Rosary or chaplet to the Divine Mercy. They will help you focus on the Eucharistic sacrifice which is a representation of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.  Moreover, this will truly be helpful if you are at a Mass in another nation where the vernacular may be different. Instead of stressing yourself trying to figure out what the priest is saying in the nation's native language, pray something else. Most likely, you will already know via second nature what is going on based on the movements of the priest and his gestures.  Remember, Jesus and Mary are not in competition, nor are the saints and the aforementioned.  

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