Question. What is the ruling about October Devotions? In our parish we have exposition every evening and, during the exposition, the rosary is said. This seems to me to be against the mind of the Church. What is your opinion?
Answer. This question came in during October of last year but 1 refrained from dealing with it at the time, mainly for the excellent reason that I was not sure of the answer.
However, in the last six months the Roman Consilium in charge of the liturgy reform have made clear their views on the subject and, as next Tuesday sees the beginning of the month when many parishes annually have a daily public rosary, it seems useful to say something this week about the practice.
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is certainly not to be discouraged and it is a pity that in some places for a variety of reasons, good and bad, it has almost disappeared.
On the other hand, the mind of the Church is that during exposition there
should be no prayer not directed towards the Blessed Sacrament and so, when the rosary is said in public, as is still advocated for the month of October. it should he said by itself, along with the Litany of Loreto and the Prayer to St. Joseph and many other similar prayers.
There is no rule against holding Benediction first and then saying these prayers, although this would certainly be rather unusual. Following the normal order, only when these other prayers are over is the Blessed Sacrament to be exposed and Benediction given.
In May of last year the Instruction on the Eucharistic Mystery laid down the principle that "during exposition everything should be so arranged that the faithful can devote themselves attentively in prayer to Christ Our Lord" (para. 62).
Referring back to this document, the Consilium give it as their opinion that it is inappropriate to say the rosary during exposition for, even though in most of the mysteries we are meditating on our Lord's saving work, an essential part of it is the repetition of the "Hail Mary".
The Blessed Sacrament is something very sacred and it is not to he exposed as a kind of back-drop for prayers. excellent in themselves, which are directed to our Lady or St. Joseph.
While the Church still advocates the daily public rosary during October in all parish churches, it is part of our Catholic tradition not to interpret this obligation in an overlegalistic fashion and small parishes often find it better to restrict these devotions to one or two evenings a week. Again, it is only reasonable that when there is Evening Mass there should not be another evening service on the same day.
These extra-liturgical devotions are not universally on the wane and the priest in charge of a rural parish told me that last October he simply announced that at. say, nine he would be in church to say the rosary; anyone who cared was welcome to join him.
Each evening, with no burning candles or other outward fuss, he did this and he was agreeably surprised at the number of parishoners who made the effort to come along.