ROME, 4 OCT. 2011 (ZENIT)
Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: In a number of countries we pray the rosary and the litany of the saints with the Blessed Sacrament exposed. When we believe Jesus Christ, who is fully alive, is present in the Blessed Sacrament, is it right to pray the rosary or a litany in which we address our prayers to Mary? When Christ is present before us, why should we take a roundabout way through Mary to Jesus, instead of praying directly to Jesus himself? I would be very grateful to hear from you because I am quite disturbed when this happens in my church. I love the Blessed Mother and pray to her, but sometimes I feel that we give more importance to her than to Jesus. — T.N., Manathavady, India
A: This is a question that often arises and which we have addressed on other occasions, most extensively a year ago on Oct. 26, 2010.
In synthesis, we referred to a Jan. 15, 1997, response to a doubt from the Congregation for Divine Worship (Prot no. 2287/96/L), which clarified that it is permitted to publicly pray the rosary before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. The aforementioned document also covers the motivations behind this practice.
We could add that there is no contradiction in praying the rosary before the Blessed Sacrament. Although the rosary is ostensibly a Marian prayer, it is also deeply centered on Christ through the contemplation of the mysteries. Indeed it is significant that among the "luminous mysteries" introduced by Blessed John Paul II is precisely the institution of the Eucharist.
It is sometimes forgotten that the rosary's vocal elements, such as the repetition of the Hail Mary, are above all geared toward helping the soul to enter into the contemplation of the mystery. The mysteries themselves are largely salient episodes in the Savior's life with a few also touching on Mary's role in the plan of salvation.
Therefore, genuinely praying the rosary in any circumstance should always bring us closer to Christ and will never give more importance to Mary than to him. If that were to happen, then it would mean that we have still to learn how to pray it as the Church, and indeed the Blessed Mother herself, desire it to be prayed.
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Follow-up: Marian Prayers Before the Blessed Sacrament [10-18-2011]
In the wake of our column of Oct. 4, a reader wrote: "I understand that praying the rosary during the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is perfectly fine. But can we pray the rosary with the leader before the altar of the Virgin on the side, while the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the central altar?"
There are no official rules to cover such a situation, probably because it never occurred to anybody that this would arise.
I would say that liturgical logic would avoid this arrangement. By remaining at the side altar, the leader would inevitably draw attention away from the Blessed Sacrament. This would be unfortunate, since the act of adoration of Christ's divine presence always holds precedence over the act of veneration toward an image of his Blessed Mother.
This is no lack of respect toward Mary, as she is most honored and most pleased whenever her Son is adored.
At the same time, there is no contradiction in adoring the Son while simultaneously venerating the Mother if an image is present in the vicinity of the Blessed Sacrament exposed, especially if the rosary takes place on a Marian feast.