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How to Pray the Rosary at Mass

In this month of October, as the results of the Amazon Synod loom ominously on the horizon, let us consider how our fathers felt when they saw the Muhammadan fleets on the horizon at Lepanto in 1571. As all of Christendom fearfully poured forth prayers to the Most Holy Virgin, Almighty God worked victory for our fathers over the Muhammadan hordes once again. Let us renew our trust in our Lady of Victory in this the month of the rosary, and month of the Miracle of the Sun. I offer this piece for that intention. We will take our first part to discuss the spirituality of the Rosary at the Holy Mass, and in the second part, we will share meditations on the Mysteries for the Holy Sacrifice.

The Holy Rosary Is a Meditation on What the Holy Mass Is

St. Louis de Montfort observes that the rosary is one part vocal prayer and one part mental [1]. He calls the former the body of the rosary and the latter the soul. Because of its aid with mental prayer, the rosary has formed an integral part of many devout souls at Holy Mass, but the practice has fallen almost completely out of use in recent times. This was a result of Paul VI’s vision for the new “active participation.” This concept was part of a spiritual error of the liturgical reformers, when they considered vocal prayer superior to mental prayer. Thus Papa Montini declared in 1974, “It is a mistake to recite the rosary during the celebration of the liturgy, though unfortunately this practice still persists here and there” [2].

On the contrary, our fathers have practiced this and other devotions during Mass for centuries. Pius X wrote in his catechism “the rosary and other prayers do not prevent us from hearing [Mass] with profit, provided we try as far as possible to follow the parts of the Holy Sacrifice” (Question 490). Garrigou-Lagrange confirms the same [3].

The rosary is profitable because of what the Holy Mass is. It is the unbloody Sacrifice of our Lord on Calvary. As the Offertory Prayer says, the Mass is offered in memory of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honor of Blessed Mary [4].

What is this commemoration but the holy rosary? The Holy Mass is a sacramental presentation of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord. The holy rosary is a meditation on these very mysteries. St. Thomas says, “the whole mystery of our salvation is comprised in this sacrament [the Mass]” (ST III q83 a4). Thus, praying the rosary at Mass is indeed one profitable way to assist at Holy Mass. This is true especially for souls who may have to attend the New Mass and struggle with distractions. We offer the following meditations for the Holy Rosary at Mass.


Before Mass — The Creed, Our Father, and Triple Hail Mary

Place yourself in the presence of God Incarnate in the Blessed Sacrament. Make a firm act of Faith in the Real Presence of Christ; hope in its power to cleanse venial sins and increase sanctifying grace; charity toward Jesus Christ in His divine Sacrament. Offer yourself and your intentions to give greater glory to God.

The Introit — The Annunciation

As the procession enters the church, remember the Scripture And the Angel came in (Lk. 1:28) and meditate on the Annunciation. The angel enters and announces the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and the priest as alter Christus enters and approaches the altar. Our Lord came to Earth to offer the one and only Mass at Calvary, and the priest comes to the altar to make present this very same Mass. Our Lady says, Fiat — let it be done to me (Lk. 1:38). Offer this decade to adore Jesus Christ in His Incarnation.

The Kyrie — The Visitation

At the Kyrie, remember the Scripture Who am I, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? (Lk. 1:43) and meditate on the Visitation. Our Lady and St. Elizabeth cry out to God in fearful hope and humility, while the Kyrie seeks mercy from the Thrice Holy Trinity. He has mercy on them that fear him, in every generation (Lk. 1:50). The holy women share a manifestation of God Incarnate yet unseen, and we too seek Him who as yet has not appeared on our altar. Offer this decade to adore Jesus Christ in the Visitation.

The Gloria — The Birth of Christ

At the Gloria, remember the Scripture Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will (Lk. 2:14) and meditate on the Birth of Christ. These words were spoken by the angel host to the shepherds, who rushed to the newborn King to say We praise thee, we bless thee, we adore thee. Raise your mind with exultant praise to Almighty God for the birth of His Son among men. Consider that Christ has come to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Offer this decade to adore Jesus Christ in His Nativity.

The Epistle — The Presentation

When the Epistle is read, remember the Scripture, A light of revelation to the Gentiles (Lk. 2:32) and meditate on the Presentation. Just as Anna and Simeon testified to Christ when he was presented at the temple, so too do St. Paul and the Prophets testify to him. Promise that you too will testify before men of the love of Christ and obey His Law, as Mary and Joseph did at the temple. Consider the words of Simeon: This child is for the fall and resurrection of many in Israel, and a sword shall pierce your own soul too (Lk. 2:34). Offer this decade to adore Jesus Christ in His presentation.

The Gospel — The Finding in the Temple

When the Gospel is proclaimed, remember the Scripture, And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom (Lk. 2:47), and meditate on the Finding in the Temple. This is the first public appearance of our Lord to seek out the souls of men, just as He does in every Gospel. Consider the life and preaching of our Lord, how His charity burned for the salvation of men. Consider the joy of Our Lady and St. Joseph in finding Our Lord in the temple and thank God that He has called you through His Gospel to eternal life. Offer this decade to adore Jesus Christ in the Finding in the Temple.

The Offertory — The Agony in the Garden

At the Offertory, remember the Scripture, And being in an agony, he prayed more fervently (Lk. 22:43) and meditate on the Agony. The priest offers the Host and the Chalice, as our Lord offers His Body and Blood for the salvation of men. When the priest pours the wine and water, remember the Scripture, His sweat became as drops of blood (Lk. 22:44). When the priest says, “Pray, brethren,” think of the words of our Lord: Rise: let us go. Behold he is at hand that will betray me (Mt. 26:46). Offer this decade to adore Jesus Christ in His agony.

The Preface and Sanctus — The Scourging

When the priest says, “The Lord be with you,” remember the Scripture Then all the disciples left him and fled (Mt. 26:56) and meditate on the Scourging. Is there no one left to follow our Lord’s Passion but the angels and our Lady? His hands are bound, yet he says, “Lift up your hearts.” Our Lord is cruelly scourged, yet he says, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” St. Thomas says the threefold Sanctus confesses the divinity of Christ, while the Benedictus confesses His humanity (ST III q83 a4). Our Lady and the angels confess this even while Our Lord’s blood is shed. Offer this decade to adore Jesus Christ in His scourging.

The Consecration — The Crown of Thorns

When the priest spreads his hands over the altar, remember the Scripture, And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head (Mt. 27:29) and meditate on the Crown of Thorns. The soldiers mock His majesty, while Our Lady and the angels adore it. As the priest genuflects, consider the homage due to the King of Kings, while all the world ridicules Him. Pilate shows Him crowned with thorns and says, Behold the Man! Look upon Him at the Elevation of the Host: my Lord and my God. Bow your heart in adoration as the priest genuflects to the King. The double consecration represents the death of our Lord. At this moment He is condemned to die for the sins of men. Offer this decade to adore Jesus Christ in His crowning with thorns.

The Our Father and The Agnus Dei — The Carrying of the Cross

When the priest begins the Our Father, remember the Scripture, And bearing his own cross, he went forth to the place which is called Calvary (Jn. 19:17) and meditate on the Carrying of the Cross. Consider the words of the Our Father and the weight of the cross: Thy will be done. Our Lady and the women follow Him, while the whole world mocks, for whom He is consummating His Passion. Adore Him, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us. Offer this decade to adore Jesus Christ in the carrying of the cross.

Holy Communion — The Crucifixion of Christ

As the priest readies the Communion, remember the Scripture, They crucified him (Jn. 19:18) and meditate on the Crucifixion. Our Lord is nailed to the cross. When the priest says “Behold, the Lamb of God,” consider Jesus Christ raised up on the cross. Lift up your face and see Him crucified, and consider His words, When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself (Jn. 12:32). Come, then, approach the Sacred Host with holy fear. Remember the Scripture, One of the Soldiers pierced his side: and immediately there came out blood and water (19:34), and consider this truth: within the Sacred Host is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Son of God. Offer this decade to adore Jesus Christ in His crucifixion.

Thanksgiving after Holy Communion — The Resurrection of our Lord

After Holy Communion, remember the Scripture My Lord and my God (Jn. 20:28) and meditate upon the Resurrection. These words were confessed by Thomas to the resurrected Lord, and by you at the Elevation of the Host, Which you have now received. Just as Christ descended into the tomb, so has He descended into your lowly flesh in order to overcome the power of sin and death in you. Remember the prayer of the Mass after Holy Communion: Grant that no stain of sin may remain in me, who have been fed with this pure and holy Sacrament [5]. Offer this decade to adore Jesus Christ in His resurrection.

Final Blessing — The Ascension of Our Lord

At the final blessing, remember the Scripture, And lifting up his hands, he blessed them (Lk. 24:50), and meditate upon the Ascension. Just as our Lord has accomplished every good work on Earth, He has now accomplished His work in Holy Mass. As the final procession leaves the church, consider Our Lord leaving the earth and ascending to His throne on high. Just as He must reign as King on high, so He must reign over your soul through the Blessed Sacrament you have received. Offer this decade to adore Jesus Christ in His ascension.

After Mass — The Coming of the Holy Spirit, The Assumption, and the Coronation

The final mysteries form the final petitions to our Lord after Holy Communion. In the Coming of the Holy Spirit, beseech Him to preserve the fruits of this sacrament in you by the Holy Ghost. In the Assumption, beg Him to give you perseverance in grace and a holy death. In the Coronation, beg Him to grant you everlasting life and commend yourself and your Communion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

[1] St. Louis de Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary (TAN: 1993), 17

[2] Marialis Cultus, 48

[3] Three Ages of the Interior Life, Vol I, Ch. 31

[4] Offertory Prayer Suscipe, sancta Trinitas

[5] Prayer Corpus tuum, Domine, quod sumpsi

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