Praying During Mass

This is a topic that’s very important to me, and I’d like to see if anyone can provide quotes on the subject. While I appreciate what’s really going on at Mass, and have no desire to offend God, the presentation often disgusts me. Banal music, rewording of the readings, and even heretical or misguided preaching are common features of many parishes (indeed, most of the ones in my area.) It makes me furious when I see this, to the degree that I feel I would be sinning to receive communion in that state, so I need something to distract my attention away from these errors.

In the past, I’ve done so by simply whispering the Lord’s Prayer to myself over and over again, but I was wondering if there are any other prayers that it’s permissible to say during these non-prayer-like segments of Mass, in order to keep from focusing on all this disrespect of the Blessed Sacrament.

Thanks in advance.

P.S.: I do, of course, still give all the proper responses to the actual prayers. They don’t usually mess those up.

Could you give some examples of the heretical and misguided preaching?

I believe that God is more concerned with what s going on in the hearts of his believers (anger, faith, etc) than in a boppy tune during Mass. I think that historically, when Mass was in Latin and few people were sure what was going on exactly, most people did their own pious thing at Mass and that was fine.

I have a quote for you from ‘The Raphael Document,’ written by Marie- Adele Garnier in the mid- to late 1800’s. She was a French woman who founded the Tyburn Nuns. In her younger days she was a nanny and years afterward an old charge asked her how to be holy. The result was the Raphael Document, a long letter written in encouragement, like Raphael to Tobias. She writes:

*"For assistance at Mass… occupy your mind with any pious thought whatever. Very gently recall the graces you have received in the course of your life. Pray for those you love. Tell Our Lord again and again that He has been good to you in a manner far beyond what you were hoping for; say thank you to Him again with your heart. Renew your fixed determination never again to turn your back on Him… Say a decade of the Rosary. Meditate on word which has struck you in an instruction, a conversation or a spiritual letter.

Distractions ought to be renounced without violent effort, just as one chases away a fly… all with the same clam, the same peace, the same simplicity. Above all, no annoyance. Once the soul is annoyed it becomes a little feverish. In a word, have a heart to heart talk with Our Lord about any subject whatsoever, either speaking to Him of Himself or converse with Him confidentially about yourself. Let us say all that our heart desires, fears, feels."*

I know how hard it can be to think holy thoughts when the stranger’s toddler next to you is playing noisily with the car keys and every now and then gets away with jabbing them into you, while you try to listen to a priest telling you that the Church is wrong about everything. I figure that God wants us, completely His for that time, specially. If that means disengaging with our surroundings a little bit or perhaps rather focussing intently on one thing to the exclusion of another, so be it.

I would pray over and over to myself:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

Lose yourself in the Mass. Pray to God, talk to Him. Live in the moment and remember that Jesus is renewing the Sacrifice right there regardless of what is going on around you.

Don’t feel obliged to follow every word that is being said by the priest.

You should try a Tridentine Mass. It allows you to really ‘lose yourself’ in the Mystery of God.

I was at a protestant service once with my wife, and through the service I just prayed the rosary on a small decade set of beads. I might suggest you can do the same, maybe with a normal 5 decade rosary, seeing as you’re in a Catholic church.

At those Masses where confessions are heard throughout, it is necessary to do the penance afterwards regardless of what’s going on in the Mass or otherwise.

I am very sympathetic to your post. My wife and I left our parish of 5-plus years last summer for almost exactly the same reasons you stated and then some. Solution? We found a new parish and are happy with it. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that the current pastor has been my spiritual director and friend for over 12 years - definitely factors in deciding to travel almost 20 miles every week to Mass - but it had to be done.

I see also that we live in the same state and I know that in Massachusetts our Holy Church is reeling from many hits over the years and that has affected several things, from attendance to parish closings to liturgical abuse and more. Don’t despair, though. I don’t know where you live in the state but there are at least two excellent Benedictine monasteries near the central part of Massachusetts: one in Still River and the other in Petersham. Both Masses are excellent from what I’ve been told; the one in Still River even has the N.O. in Latin, a rarity indeed. Also, there is a Tridentine Mass at St. Paul’s in Warren, MA and I have heard great things about the pastor there.

I’ve been told many times to attend Mass “where you are being fed” and that is absolutely correct. Make the effort to make the necessary changes and be happy at Mass. Godspeed and peace be with you.

As St. Pope Pius X said: “Don’t pray at Mass, pray THE Mass!”

Maybe try to follow these words, but remember that praying the rosary or devotions during Mass is allowed. But it is often frowned upon because it is not proper. Please nonetheless, ensure you adore the paschal sacrifice and Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament whatever you do.

When St Pius X said this, he was speaking about the old Latin Mass. This would be your safe haven. There is no banal or bad music allowed, only music fit for the king of kings! This mass is universal, worldwide, easy to follow with a missal and really allows you to have a personal relationship with God. Search online for a Tridentine Mass near you, you will thank us later. :wink:

As said above, I would advise to everyone here that if they were at a Protestant service one should just pray the rosary in silence, so as to avoid heresy and illicit/invalid actions.

As always, let us pray for the poor as our dear Pope is calling us to, and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. God Bless.

I’ m not down playing the seriousness of your concerns, but I find it difficult to believe that “most” of the parishes in your area are guilty of liturgical abuse. Yes I would agree prayer is called for by you and for you, in and outside the mass.

What about just going to a different Mass? I like to go to 7:30 am Mass because there is no music, and the priest is master of the 8 sentence homily. Masses where everything is sung just annoy me. Singing The Our Father strikes me as irreverent. Plus, it’s hard to listen for that still small voice when there’s someone yowling in my ear.

Have you ever been to a Solemn High Mass in Latin (OF or EF)?

Say the Rosary. Just use your fingers.

Nope. As far as I know our parish doesn’t offer one.

I would advise against praying the rosary during Mass.

Taken from the 1974 Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus:


  1. … Secondly there are those who, without wholesome liturgical and pastoral criteria, mix practices of piety and liturgical acts in hybrid celebrations. It sometimes happens that novenas or similar practices of piety are inserted into the very celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. This creates the danger that the Lord’s Memorial Rite, instead of being the culmination of the meeting of the Christian community, becomes the occasion, as it were, for devotional practices. For those who act in this way we wish to recall the rule laid down by the Council prescribing that exercises of piety should be harmonized with the liturgy not merged into it."
  1. …Liturgical celebrations and the pious practice of the Rosary must be neither set in opposition to one another nor considered as being identical.(114) The more an expression of prayer preserves its own true nature and individual characteristics the more fruitful it becomes. Once the pre-eminent value of liturgical rites has been reaffirmed it will not be difficult to appreciate the fact that the Rosary is a practice of piety which easily harmonizes with the liturgy. In fact, like the liturgy, it is of a community nature, draws its inspiration from Sacred Scripture and is oriented towards the mystery of Christ. The commemoration in the liturgy and the contemplative remembrance proper to the Rosary, although existing on essentially different planes of reality, have as their object the same salvific events wrought by Christ. The former presents new, under the veil of signs and operative in a hidden way, the great mysteries of our Redemption. The latter, by means of devout contemplation, recalls these same mysteries to the mind of the person praying and stimulates the will to draw from them the norms of living. Once this substantial difference has been established, it is not difficult to understand that the Rosary is an exercise of piety that draws its motivating force from the liturgy and leads naturally back to it, if practiced in conformity with its original inspiration.; It does not, however, become part of the liturgy. In fact, meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, by familiarizing the hearts and minds of the faithful with the mysteries of Christ, can be an excellent preparation for the creation of those same mysteries in the liturgical action and an also become a continuing echo thereof.** However, it is a mistake to recite the Rosary during the celebration of the liturgy, though unfortunately this practice still persists here and there.**

Thank you very much for this. This was a big problem when there was only the Latin Mass, because people could not understand exactly what was going on, so they would pray the Rosary. I listened to a Youtube video with Pope Benedict XVI in which he discussed the reasons for reforming the Mass, and he said that it was often like there were two liturgies, one by the priest and one by the people. The whole idea in reforming the Mass was that people would become more personally involved and pray. I sympathize with the OP in that sometimes the prayers are not the deepest, but nonetheless, it is still the Mass and we should be as involved as possible.

I agree. And I don’t believe language should be a barrier. One should be able to pray at a Latin or Spanish Mass even if he or she has to work to understand what is going on. In fact the prayers can be that much more effective done this way, IMO of course.

I could list a few but the worst that comes to mind is a celebrant whose homily included the claim that the Church was in mortal sin for refusing to ordain women because the faithful were thereby being deprived of opportunities to receive the Eucharist.

Did a priest truly say this? I find this very hard to believe.

Believe what you will. It was my parish; I was there and it’s not the only outrageous thing I heard from that priest.