I am one of those persons who don't like to say the Rosary. I have a reason for this: the ten Hail Marys.

Many people say that the idea of saying Rosary is that you should repeat the ten Hail Marys without focusing on them. If this is so, then that says a lot about what people seem to think vocal prayer is all about.

What they seem to say is that vocal prayer is a lot about repetition of words given to us by the Church rather than on focusing on what you are trying to express by the words.

They seem to say that vocal prayer is just repetition of words while you meditate on something else than the meaning of the eords you are saying.

What is the real purpose of vocal prayer?

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    But "vocal prayer" is a lot more than saying the Rosary, see Prayer in the Catholic Church - Vocal prayer. It is distinguished from "Mental prayer". So "Vocal prayer" is simply praying aloud, with words, which can be chanted or not. "Vocal prayer" also doesn't have to be formulaic, it can be extemporaneous. Please be more clear on what you mean by "vocal prayer" in the question so the answer can be more targeted. Maybe it can be restated as "What is the real purpose of repetitive formulaic vocal prayer"? Jul 26, 2023 at 9:44

2 Answers 2


You might feel that the repetition in the Rosary seems to take away from the focus of prayer. It's a common concern, and the prayer, in all its forms, is a personal journey.

The Rosary, with its repetition of Hail Marys, is indeed designed for contemplation. The repeated prayers serve as a kind of spiritual rhythm or mantra, focusing the mind and creating space for meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary, which are events from the lives of Jesus and Mary. The words of the Hail Mary might become like background music, allowing your mind to delve deeper into these profound spiritual realities.

However, this method might not resonate with everyone. Prayer is a deeply personal experience, and different methods work for different individuals.

If the Rosary doesn't feel meaningful for you, you can explore other forms of prayer. You might find that silent contemplation, studying Scripture, participating in the Mass, or expressing your own thoughts and feelings to God in your own words (known as spontaneous or extemporaneous prayer) might bring you closer to God.

As St. Francis of Assisi reminds us, "We should seek not so much to pray but to become prayer."

Anyways.. Prayer is not considered in Catholicism as a technique you need to perfect, but rather a cultivating a relationship with God. As St. Teresa of Avila said, "Prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God."

  • So the goal is to make the ten Hail Marys as backgrund music or is that just one alternative? Jul 29, 2023 at 13:19

What is the real purpose of vocal prayer?

Prayer within the Catholic Church may be expressed ”vocally” or ”mentally”. Vocal prayer may be spoken or sung. Mental prayer can be either meditation or contemplation. The basic forms of prayer are adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication, abbreviated as A.C.T.S.

Before going on allow me to clarify one thing you mentioned: ”Many people say that the idea of saying Rosary is that you should repeat the ten Hail Marys without focusing on them.” This is not entirely untrue.some individuals do actually do this and it is acceptable as a form of Rosary meditation. Although not common, it is fine when one is very fatigued or tired or in need of comfort: ”Pray for us at the hour of our death!”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has the following to say about vocal prayer:

2700 Through his Word, God speaks to man. By words, mental or vocal, our prayer takes flesh. Yet it is most important that the heart should be present to him to whom we are speaking in prayer: "Whether or not our prayer is heard depends not on the number of words, but on the fervor of our souls."

2701 Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life. To his disciples, drawn by their Master's silent prayer, Jesus teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father. He not only prayed aloud the liturgical prayers of the synagogue but, as the Gospels show, he raised his voice to express his personal prayer, from exultant blessing of the Father to the agony of Gesthemani.

2702 The need to involve the senses in interior prayer corresponds to a requirement of our human nature. We are body and spirit, and we experience the need to translate our feelings externally. We must pray with our whole being to give all power possible to our supplication.

2703 This need also corresponds to a divine requirement. God seeks worshippers in Spirit and in Truth, and consequently living prayer that rises from the depths of the soul. He also wants the external expression that associates the body with interior prayer, for it renders him that perfect homage which is his due.

2704 Because it is external and so thoroughly human, vocal prayer is the form of prayer most readily accessible to groups. Even interior prayer, however, cannot neglect vocal prayer. Prayer is internalized to the extent that we become aware of him "to whom we speak;"4 Thus vocal prayer becomes an initial form of contemplative prayer.

Prayer in the Catholic Church can be dinstinguished into vocal and mental. Vocal prayer is that which is made by using some approved form of words, read, sung (cahanted) or recited; such as the sign of the cross, the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office), the Angelus, grace before and after meals, etc. Mental prayer is that which is made without employing either words or formulas of any kind. Catholics are exhorted to beware of underrating the usefulness or necessity of vocal prayer. Common vocal prayers include the Lord's Prayer (Our Father, Pater Noster), the Hail Mary (Ave Maria, Angelical salutation), the Glory Be (Gloria Patri, Minor Doxology), and the Apostles' Creed (Symbolum Apostolorum).

We consider vocal prayer an essential element of the Christian life. Vocal prayer can be as simple and uplifting as "Thank you, God, for this blessing", or as formal as a Mass celebrating a very special occasion.

When two or more people gather together to pray, their prayer is called communal prayer. Examples of communal prayer are the rosary, devotional prayers including novenas and litanies, classroom prayers, and, most importantly, the Holy Mass.

Remember that St. Augustine said that singing is like praying twice and the Early Church chanted the Scriptures in common as a vocal prayer.

In France we would Chant the Rosary (Latin) in common. Thus body and soul participated in prayer.

  • So you can focus on the ten Hail Marys when praying the rosary? Jul 29, 2023 at 13:09

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