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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bad Idea: Rosary During Mass

Rorate Caeli, with the help of Pewsitter (the "Catholic" site whose attacks on the Pope are beginning to sound vaguely Masonic), has decided to defend the execrable habit of praying the Rosary during Mass. Because it is an indefensible position to take, RC simply tosses off a single line reference to an encyclical, pretending that this makes the practice ok.
The Pope has once again made his mind on the liturgical reform of the 1960's and Vatican II clear, and not without taking the opportunity to criticize the easiest of targets: the very few who still say the rosary at Mass (by the way, not a problem - cf. Mediator Dei, 181-184).
Let's take that apart. After all, what are the chances RC actually knows the Catholic Faith or papal encyclicals better than the Pope? Well, zero, actually.

To begin with, let me make clear that praying the Rosary during Mass is not just something done at Latin Mass. I've seen it done at Novus Ordo Mass as well. It is a practice born of the rankest of ignorance, generally performed by people completely unschooled in the Faith.

Liturgy: Highest Prayer of the Church

We must begin by understanding that liturgy is the highest and most ancient prayer of the Church. The Mass is the highest form of liturgy. All other forms of prayer are lesser and derivative. It is not possible for a Catholic to pray a better prayer than the Mass.

The Rosary, while a pleasant devotion, is simply nowhere near the same stature. The Rosary is a private devotion. It is certainly less than a thousand years old. The Rosary has never been a universal prayer within the Church. It is not part of the Mass, has never been part of the Mass and can never be part of the Mass. It is not liturgy. It is not even close to being in the same rank as liturgy.

The Mass can be traced back to the Last Supper. Compare this to the Rosary and the Hail Mary's which comprise it. These cannot be found in the West until over a thousand years after the Resurrection. The Rosary is not found in the East at all.
It is in any case certain that at the close of the fifteenth century the utmost possible variety of methods of (Rosary) meditating prevailed, and that the fifteen mysteries now generally accepted were not uniformly adhered to even by the Dominicans themselves.
The current form of the Hail Mary, which comprises the greater part of the prayer is not exactly ancient either.
In point of fact there is little or no trace of the Hail Mary as an accepted devotional formula before about 1050...In the time of St. Louis the Ave Maria ended with the words of St. Elizabeth: "benedictus fructus ventris tui" may be noticed that in some places, and notably in Ireland, the feeling still survives that the Hail Mary is complete with the word Jesus. Indeed the writer is informed that within living memory it was not uncommon for Irish peasant, when bidden to say Hail Marys for a penance, to ask whether they were required to say the Holy Marys too.
The rosary is a wonderful prayer, but it really has no more weight than the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Memorare or any other non-liturgical prayer. Comparing liturgy with non-liturgy is like comparing God with His saints. Even Mary, Queen of Heaven, is infinitely less than God. The worth of an infinite number of Rosaries can never begin to remotely approach the worth of a single Mass.

An Extraordinary Exercise of Piety?

Now that we have a bit of the history cleared away, let's take a look at Mediator Dei's infamous articles #181-184
181. Any inspiration to follow and practice extraordinary exercises of piety must most certainly come from the Father of Lights, from whom every good and perfect gift descends;[166] and, of course, the criterion of this will be the effectiveness of these exercises in making the divine cult loved and spread daily ever more widely, and in making the faithful approach the sacraments with more longing desire, and in obtaining for all things holy due respect and honor. If on the contrary, they are an obstacle to principles and norms of divine worship, or if they oppose or hinder them, one must surely conclude that they are not in keeping with prudence and enlightened zeal.
Notice how article #181 fails to mention the Rosary at all. It talks about "extraordinary exercises of piety", but the test for whether these are actually acts of piety is whether or not they present "an obstacle to divine worship."  Since we haven't yet ascertained whether praying the Rosary during Mass presents such an obstacle, it's hard to argue that this article endorses praying the Rosary during Mass.

Indeed, for people who love to argue that the words of the Latin Mass are far superior to those of the Novus Ordo, it is striking that they also argue people can accomplish the same depth of meditation by focusing on any non-liturgical prayer. It is almost as if such people don't understand that the Mass, even a badly offered Mass which passed the test of validity but disobeyed the rubrics, is infinitely superior to even the most beautifully-said Rosary.
182. There are, besides, other exercises of piety which, although not strictly belonging to the sacred liturgy, are, nevertheless, of special import and dignity, and may be considered in a certain way to be an addition to the liturgical cult; they have been approved and praised over and over again by the Apostolic See and by the bishops. Among these are the prayers usually said during the month of May in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, or during the month of June to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus: also novenas and triduums, stations of the cross and other similar practices.
Alright, so RC should have quoted #182-184, instead of #181-184. But can we even admit #182? After all, look at the examples given for "addition to the liturgical cult". We see novenas, triduums, and stations of the cross, but no mention of the Rosary. Hmmm....

"Well," comes the rebuke, "of course the Rosary falls under 'other similar practices'!!!" Really? Does it? According to the Enchiridion of Indulgences, #63, in order to pray a legitimate stations of the Cross:
"A movement from one station to the next is required. But if the stations are made publicly and it is not possible for everyone taking part to go from station to station, it suffices if at least the one conducting the exercise goes from station to station, the others remaining in their places." 
Ok, so if we follow this line of reasoning, and argue that it is perfectly legitimate to pray the Rosary during Mass, then it is likewise perfectly legitimate for members of the faithful, or at least one member of the faithful, to do the stations of the Cross during Mass.

But in order to do the stations legitimately, that faithful Catholic would have to get up out of his pew during Mass, and move from station to station down the nave, standing, kneeling, genuflecting and praying aloud as appropriate for the stations, while others in the pew who choose to do so, pray along. So, say, as the priest ambulates down the nave during the Asperges, the faithful have the right to ambulate the nave praying the stations? During the consecration, there would be no issue with us praying the death of Christ on the Cross and fixing our eyes on that tableau rather than facing towards Christ in the Eucharist? That's your argument?

Because that's what you are doing when you pray the Rosary during Mass. Praying the Rosary during Mass is no different than saying, "Yes, I know Jesus Christ, present in the Eucharist, is available to me right now. But rather than go up and receive the actual Eucharist, I find my participation in the Mass is enhanced by always making a spiritual communion instead. Because, you know, spiritual. So, I'll just stay in the pew, me and my meditation, while you go up and do your Eucharist reception thing."

Rosary During Mass: A Protestant Attitude

In fact, it is essentially saying "What I do in prayer in the pew is the spiritual equivalent of what the priest does at the altar. My meditations are the focus of my presence at the Mass." People often wonder where the insane individualism of the post-Vatican II Church originated. They scoff when I point out that it began in the pre-Vatican II Church. It began with the people praying the Rosary during Mass.
183. These devotions make us partakers in a salutary manner of the liturgical cult, because they urge the faithful to go frequently to the sacrament of penance, to attend Mass and receive communion with devotion, and, as well, encourage them to meditate on the mysteries of our redemption and imitate the example of the saints.
For those with the eyes to see, #183 explains how all of this is supposed to work. You see, the novenas, triduums, devotions to Mary and the Sacred Heart, these devotions are to take place OUTSIDE of Mass. They are not liturgical.

They contribute to liturgy in the sense that when you pray them OUTSIDE of Mass, the prayers assist you in recalling to your mind and your being the graces you were given IN the Mass. Thus, these private devotions can help you spread the graces of the Mass into your day and into your life. But if you are focusing on these devotions while you are IN the Mass, then you aren't getting the graces of the Mass that you would get by actually... you know... participating in the Mass.
184. Hence, he would do something very wrong and dangerous who would dare to take on himself to reform all these exercises of piety and reduce them completely to the methods and norms of liturgical rites. (emphasis added) However, it is necessary that the spirit of the sacred liturgy and its directives should exercise such a salutary influence on them that nothing improper be introduced nor anything unworthy of the dignity of the house of God or detrimental to the sacred functions or opposed to solid piety.
See, you aren't supposed to turn the Rosary into a prayer of the Mass, because *the Rosary IS NOT a prayer of the Mass.* By referring to article #184 of Mediator Dei, Rorate Caeli actually provides the text that proves the exact opposite of what they intended to prove. These exercises of piety, such as the Rosary or the stations, are not to mix and mingle with the exercises of the liturgical rites. They Rosary complements the Mass, but it is not to be mingled with the exercises of the Mass.

So, not only do the articles referenced NEVER mention the Rosary, the articles referenced actually tell us NEVER to use the Rosary as if it were a liturgical prayer. That is, we should never pray the Rosary during Mass, because we thereby attempt (and fail) to turn the Rosary into a liturgical prayer when we do so.

The liturgy, particularly the Mass, is in every case an actual and direct participation in the eternal offering the Resurrected Christ makes of His Own Body and Blood. It is us lifted into heavcen, directly participating in the offering Christ makes of Himself to the Father in the Temple of Heaven itself.

The Rosary is, at most, a pleasant meditation. Praying the Rosary during the Mass is a distraction from participating in the Mass. Yes, even during the Latin Mass - it is still a distraction. Mary leads us to Christ, she doesn't lead us away from Him. Praying the Rosary during Mass is an abuse of Mary's prayer and it is an abuse of Mary. We pray the Rosary before Mass to prepare for Mass, after Mass to meditate on the riches given to us, but during Mass we pray the Mass, we do not pray the Rosary.

Anyone who tells you different is a Mason, a neocon or an ignoramus.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Assessing Your Parish

The Church has three primary tasks: to teach, to govern and to sanctify. Through the liturgy and the sacraments, we are sanctified, that is, we are given the power of grace, the ability to live the divine life. Through catechesis we are given the knowledge and motivation to live the divine life of love towards both God and our neighbor. All other aspects of the Christian life flow from The Church’s success in these tasks. Thus, the life of every parish is assessed by asking two questions:
(1) how well is the task of sanctification being carried out?(2) how well is the task of catechesis being carried out?


  1. Are sacraments readily available to all parishioners?
  2. Are parents treated as priests of the domestic church (Familiaris Consortio, #38)?
  3. Are all Catholics aware of and ready to embrace the salvific aspect of suffering?
Sacrament of Baptism

  1. Are all Catholic parents aware of the importance of water baptism for their children as soon as possible after birth? 
  2. Are all Catholics aware of how to perform an emergency baptism?
  3. Are all Catholics aware of the effects of baptism? 
Sacrament of Confession
  1. Is the Sacrament of Confession available on at least a bi-weekly basis at a publicly scheduled and easily accessible time?
  2. Are all parish adults utilizing the sacrament?
  3. Are parents, as primary educators, preparing their own children for reception of Confession? (CCC #2225)
  4. Is the parish teaching parents how best to prepare their own children from reception of Confession?
Sacrament of Confirmation
  1. Are all Catholic adults who approach the sacrament of marriage confirmed?
  2. Are parents, as primary educators, preparing their own children for reception of Confirmation?
  3. Are parents encouraged to prepare their children at or about the age of reason, as universal Church law recommends (Canon 97.2, 843.1, 852.1, 885)?
  4. Are all children in the parish being confirmed no later than the maximum age set by the bishop?
  5. Are priests aware they must confirm unconfirmed baptized persons in serious danger of death?
  6. Are priests aware that all persons who approach the Church and have the use of reason must be both baptized and confirmed in the same ceremony?
Sacrament of Eucharist
  1. Are parishioners aware of how to correctly receive Eucharist (do they know the signs of reverence, do they know how to examine their conscience, be in a state of grace, etc.)?
  2. Are parishioners both knowledgeable about and made comfortable in exercising their right to receive Eucharist on their knees, after genuflection, after bowing, while standing, whether in the hand or on the tongue?
  3. Are parishioners encouraged to take time to properly prepare themselves during Mass immediately before Eucharistic reception or do ushers, by word or action, distort the proper role of usher by instead dictating when the faithful can or cannot approach the sacrament during Mass?
  4. Are parents, as primary educators, preparing their own children for reception of Eucharist? (CCC #2225)
  5. Are the sacraments of initiation given in their proper order: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist?
Sacrament of Marriage
  1. Are all Catholics approaching the sacrament of marriage aware that they must be open to life?
  2. Are all Catholics approaching the sacrament of marriage aware that marriage is a life-long commitment?
  3. Are all Catholics approaching the sacrament of marriage rejecting contraception and aware of NFP?
  4. Are all Catholics approaching marriage aware of and do they embrace the three ends of marriage?

    • The procreation of children
    • The union of the spouses
    • The remedy for concupiscence
  1. Are EMEs kept to a minimum?
  2. Does the parish liturgy typically incorporate Gregorian chant, as required by the Second Vatican Council (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #116)?
  3. Are the musical instruments used at Mass “suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #120)?
  4. Is the Divine Office prayed regularly in a public way, so that the faithful may actively participate in the communal prayer of the Church?
  5. Are all lay ministers in liturgical positions living an exemplary Catholic life?
  6. Are all lay catechists living an exemplary Catholic life?
  7. Do parishioners understand the Easter Vigil to be the "mother of all feasts"?


Family catechesis
  1. Are most parish catechetical sessions directed towards helping parents gain the necessary tools to be their own children's primary catechists (Catechesi Tradendae, #68, Familiaris Consortio#39)?
  2. Are parents encouraged and expected to act as primary catechists, e.g., do the pastor and parish catechists dictate sacramental formation requirements, or do they advise, allowing parents the latitude to choose the most appropriate methods of formation for their own children (Familiaris Consortio, #40)?
  3. Is the primary focus of parish catechetical efforts intended to give parents the tools to prepare their own children to receive first reconciliation, Confirmation and first Eucharist (CCC #2225)?
Primacy of Adult Catechesis
  1. Is the primary catechetical task of the parish oriented towards adults (General Directory for Catechetics, #275, Catechesi Tradendae, #43, Our Hearts Were Burning, Chapter 1)?
  2. Are weekly adult formation sessions being held for parents (Acerbo Nimis, #11)?
  3. Are at least thrice-weekly adult formation sessions being held during Advent and Lent (Acerbo Nimis, #11)?
  4. Are the best parish resources being focused on forming adult Catholics in their faith (OHWB, Chapter III)?
  5. Is there a physical space appropriate to adults available in the parish in order to undertake adult catechesis?
  6. Are teachings outlining how to live Church teaching regularly given (e.g., on sterilization, contraception, need for regular confession, etc.)?
  7. Are regular doctrinal Scripture studies, encyclical studies and Church history sessions for adults made available in the parish?
  8. Are lay church leaders (e.g., parish council members) thoroughly familiar with the documents of Vatican II and the catechetical documents?
  9. Are parish catechists thoroughly familiar with the Magisterial documents on catechesis, such as the General Directory for Catechesis and Catechesi Tradendae?
  10. Are parents thoroughly familiar with the Magisterial documents on marriage, family, and human sexuality, such as Familiaris Consortio, Letter to Families, Mulieris Dignitatem, Letter to Children, Humanae Vitae, and The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality?