Oh, Those Rosary Ladies


We all remember them – even those of us who never saw them – those dear ladies who said the Rosary during Mass prior to 1970.  (I actually remember coveting their crystal and pearl rosaries.) Although they are nearly as extinct at dinosaurs, they will surface in every debate over the Extraordinary Form if the discussion goes on long enough.

New flash!  Their behavior was regarded as undesirable in its time and was fading by the mid-1960s.  The first generations of liturgical reformers struggled manfully against this and many other out-of-place devotional practices during Mass.  However, they didn’t believe the solution was the abolition of the Extraordinary Form.  Their goal was education that would progressively engage the worshippers with the liturgy.  Congregational chant, the dialog Mass, hand missals, and extensive lay education were all aimed at displacing the pious practices that were themselves a response to another abuse – the dead-silent Low Mass.

There is no reason to present the case that it’s “rosary ladies or the Novus Ordo.”  That’s the informal fallacy known as a false dilemma.  The Extraordinary Form is a rich ceremony that can demand the full participation of its worshippers, as can the Ordinary Form when it is well celebrated.  Let the poor Rosary Ladies rest in peace and pray for the repose of their souls.

(By the way, I still see the occasional rosary-reciter at masses in the Ordinary Form.  And you know what, I don’t care.)

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