Hey there Rosary Lovers! The question of this post is: do I have to pray the Rosary in one sitting?
Another way to ask this would be: do we have to pray the Rosary all at once? Or can we split it up throughout the day?
What we recommend at Rosary Lovers
Here at Rosary Lovers, we have often encouraged readers to split the Rosary up throughout the day. The Rosary is far easier to pray when it is prayed like this, especially for our highly-distracted 21st century minds.
Sure, that’s what we recommend at Rosary Lovers. But is this a legit way to pray it?
You don’t have to pray the Rosary, you can pray as you want
Well, let’s first of all consider that: You don’t have to pray the Rosary at all!
As Catholics, we are under no obligation whatsoever to pray the Rosary. None. At all. It is no sin at all to NEVER pray the Rosary in your entire life.
So if you happen to be one of those Catholics who chooses to make it a part of your spiritual life, good for you! Go for it!
And since it is a spiritual discipline, it should be obvious that you can kind of do as you wish with it. Because we can all pray as we please, so long as we are talking to God in trust.
The Catholic who chooses to pray a different prayer to Mary, a prayer they made up, is not doing anything wrong. The Catholic who chooses to pray the Hail Mary is also not doing anything wrong.
Indeed, the Catholic who doesn’t pray to Mary isn’t doing anything wrong, nor is the Catholic who prays to different saints or who only ever prays to Jesus, or God the Father.
We have a lot of freedom in the spiritual life, and we can approach God in a very wide variety of ways, so long as it is within the confines of the holy Catholic religion.
There are very few ‘rules’ to praying properly, but the absolute essential is:
- Don’t be willfully distracted when praying any prayer
And, so far as I can gather, that’s pretty much it. I was going to create a list then (as you can see from the bullet point) but I can’t think of anything else. You are legitimately praying to God and pleasing God if you aren’t being willfully distracted.
There are other things related to this, such as praying with a lifting of the heart/mind to God, and praying in a state of grace (not being in mortal sin, unless it is a prayer of repentance).
But it’s all part of the same thing. Our intention is to focus on God when we pray to him, not to mouth empty words.
The best way to illustrate this is with a common example. I am not praying – in fact I am sinning – if I am ‘praying’ but then pull out my phone in the middle of this ‘prayer’ and start checking my Facebook. That’s not prayer. That’s willful distraction and is unacceptable and disrespectful to God.
This doesn’t mean that you aren’t distracted. You may be distracted unwillingly! You may be working. It is absolutely fine to pray whilst working in your job, so long as your prayers don’t keep you from doing a good job or doing your job.
You may be driving. You may be washing dishes, or (God forbid!) even on the toilet! My O my, how unspiritual we all are!
Seriously though, all joking to one-side, there is nothing wrong with praying to God on the toilet. I hear the Jews have a beautiful prayer they recite whilst on the toilet.
So we may be distracted legitimately, and yet we can still pray. Nothing wrong with this. By all means, pray whilst you are driving, so long as it doesn’t distract you from driving well!
So long as we keep to these guidelines, we can pray as we wish.
If a Catholic wants to pray the Divine Office, awesome.
If a Catholic wants to pray Novenas, go for it.
If a Catholic wants to pray 50 Our Fathers a day, excellent! Brilliant!
If a Catholic wants to pray the Rosary, wonderful!
If a Catholic wants to pray the Jesus prayer everyday 300 times, that’s outstanding!
If a Catholic wants to pray using their own words to God all the time, fabulous.
It’s UP TO YOU.
The only requirements to ensure you are praying the Rosary
You can pray the Rosary as you wish, so long as you:
- Meditate on the mysteries
- Pray one Our Father, 10 Hail Marys and 1 Glory be for each mystery
That’s it. You can check this link out here to prove this, since it tells us what the Church requires for a proper Rosary recitation. But this is all that’s needed to pray the Rosary.
To fail to do any of these things isn’t even sinful or wrong. It just means that you aren’t praying the Rosary.
If you don’t meditate on the mysteries, you’re still praying! You just aren’t praying the Rosary.
If you don’t say 10 Hail Marys, but you say 6 instead, you aren’t praying the Rosary, but you are still praying!!
And to pray is what’s most important.
Notice that NONE of these essentials for praying the Rosary anywhere states that you can’t split the Rosary up throughout the day.
So, if it helps you to split the Rosary up during the day, then absolutely do it. Don’t do it all in one sitting if this is only going to make it discouraging for you to come back tomorrow and do it all over again.
A Rosary prayed imperfectly everyday is infinitely better than no Rosary or no prayer prayed at all on any day.
But what about where the Church says ‘these five decades must be recited without interruption‘?
That’s specifically to do with if you are wanting to obtain a PLENARY INDULGENCE. Which you can only get if you are praying the Rosary vocally in Church.
The vast majority of Catholics don’t receive plenary indulgences when reciting the Rosary and this was true of the saints too. Most of us receive partial indulgences when praying the Rosary.
This is because one of the essential ingredients for gaining a plenary indulgence for a Rosary recitation is to recite it in Church. But most Catholics and most saints have recited the Rosary everywhere, not just in Church.
The Rosary is NOT the easiest way to gain a plenary indulgence. It’s actually quite a challenge to obtain a plenary indulgence through reciting the Rosary. It’s taxing, and there are FAR EASIER ways to gain plenary indulgences if that is what you are after.
Such as performing the Stations of the Cross, on your own, in a local Catholic Church. Which need take no longer than a few minutes, since all that is required is for you to go from Station to Station and briefly meditate on each Station.
And BANG! You get a Plenary indulgence (so long as the usual conditions are met: praying for the intentions of the Pope, going to Confession, Eucharist, etc. See this link.)
So, if you’re not aiming specifically for a plenary indulgence, then by all means: split the Rosary up throughout the day.
It MAY be the case that by praying all 5 decades in one hit you get a larger partial indulgence. But I don’t know about this, and so long as I’m getting blessing through praying it (and I’ve gotten a LOT of blessing praying the Rosary), I’m going to keep praying it as I usually do.
Which involves splitting it up throughout the day.
By the way, I trust you possess a set of Rosary beads already. But if you don’t, check out this post.
God bless. If you have any questions, let me know.