“Ask a Priest: Is It OK to Add Prayers to the Rosary?”

Want to rate this?

Q: Is it proper to add anything to the rosary while we are saying it out loud? There is now a phrase that one of the ladies in our parish has added at the end of each decade when we say our daily rosary. We say, “Jesus, save and protect the unborn.” That is certainly a fine/needed request, but I don’t think we should add anything once we begin to say the rosary. It’s always been the norm that we say our intentions before we start the rosary. I’m thinking that someone else in the group might want to add another request and then the rosary gets changed and that doesn’t seem right. We should be able to go anywhere and say the rosary and it should be our familiar rosary – not a lot of added requests in the middle of the rosary. What do you think? – B.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Flexibility has been a part of the rosary for centuries. Although the rosary is commonly identified with Saint Dominic (1170-1221), parts of it predated him, and other parts were added after his death.

In practice, it is not uncommon for people to add prayers here or there. Part of the richness of the Church is how it takes on pious traditions that reflect the desires of a given people in a given age.

The Church doesn’t prohibit these kinds of personal adaptations to the rosary. But nor does it advocate piling on the petitions.

So, in any given situation it is a prudential decision about how to proceed.

It’s good to keep the big picture in mind: It’s great that people are praying the rosary together. And that is reason enough for the devil to try to disrupt things and stir up disunity.

Here you might ask yourself what would be the higher good: strict uniformity in the praying of the rosary, or the promotion of its communal recitation which could help even more souls?

There could be a middle ground to aim for: communal recitation and at least relative uniformity. But you would want to be careful not to squash the Spirit for the sake of strict uniformity.

For further reading you might want to look at Nos. 197-202 of the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, which speaks of the ancient practice of inserting something into the Holy Mary, although it doesn’t go into specifics.

Also worth a look are Pope St. Paul VI’s Marialis Cultus, Nos. 42-55, and Pope St. John Paul II’s Rosarium Virginis Mariae, in which he presents the addition of the luminous mysteries.

Our Lady of Fatima asked that certain prayers be added to the rosary (after recitation of each mystery, in particular) and many people, out of Marian devotion, believe the rosary should be prayed no other way. But Marian apparitions, even approved ones, are considered private revelations and, therefore, not universally binding or obligatory.

If the parishioners want to get on the same page in terms of how they recite the rosary, they could meditate on the texts above and then have a meeting to decide how they’ll pray it.

Meditating on the mysteries is at the heart of the rosary. If the prayer group is doing that, then it is basically praying the rosary well.

Keep learning more with Ask a Priest

Got a question? Need an answer?

Today’s secular world throws curve balls at us all the time. AskACatholicPriest is a Q&A feature that anyone can use. Just type in your question or send an email to AskAPriest@rcspirituality.org and you will get a personal response back from one of our priests at RCSpirituality. You can ask about anything – liturgy, prayer, moral questions, current events… Our goal is simply to provide a trustworthy forum for dependable Catholic guidance and information. So go ahead and ask your question…

Average Rating

What did you think?

Share your review! Just log in or create your free account.

One Comment
  1. In my parish one year, we began praying the rosary for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and we had an excellent group who faithfully gathered each week. A woman started coming who tried to add her own long list of additional prayers and intentions. It became tedious to the group. I spoke to the woman to reinforce the purpose of our gathering,but she insisted. Eventually, the number of attendees diminished. In my experience, too many addition to an already beautiful prayer can dilute its beauty and even identity

Leave a Reply

Get the Answers!

Get notified of future Ask a Priest answers via email

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Skip to content