Katrina Fernandez with advice on "how far is too far" with non-Catholic friends
I want to give my roommate a rosary but she’s not Catholic. I don’t want to make things weird and seem like I am trying to push my religion on her but I noticed she’s always messing around with my rosaries so I thought it would be nice to give her one. Can a non-Catholic, who goes to a nondenominational church, pray the rosary? Do you think if I gave her one I’d be overstepping my bounds as a friend?
A Nashville Dominican nun once told me that you can start off praying the rosary as a non-Catholic but you won’t stay that way for long. That’s how confident she was in the rosary’s ability to convert hearts. So yes, give your non-denominational roommate a rosary without any further hesitation or misgivings.
You asked if a non-Catholic can pray the rosary. If a non-Catholic can pray then they can pray the rosary. I credit the rosary with my own conversion. For a full year, before I even started showing any interest in the Catholic faith, I prayed the rosary daily on beads that a Legion of Mary member gave me. I prayed those beads every day right along with Mother Angelica on EWTN and before I knew it I was in RCIA. I never stood a chance.
Offering to give your roommate one of your rosaries or giving her one of her own isn’t pushing your faith on her, especially since she’s expressed such a keen interest in the rosary. It’s sharing something of yourself, in this case your faith, with a close friend. You’re a keen and attentive friend for even noticing her interest. If you two are close enough friends to be roommates I seriously doubt sharing this part of yourself with her will be perceived as overstepping.
Next time you notice her inspecting your rosary simply ask her if she’d like to keep it or have you get her one. If she asks questions or shares your doubts about whether she can pray the rosary as a non-Catholic, explain to her that the rosary is a meditation on the life Christ and the important events in the Gospels.
Of course this exchange will probably spark lots of questions, so do a little prep work beforehand. Some common questions non-Catholics typically have about the rosary pertain to things like “vain repetition” and “praying to Mary.” Prepare by doing some reading and praying of your own before you offer your friend a rosary. You can also give her some resources, show where she can learn more about the rosary online, or suggest she download a rosary app. But leave all that up to her. Just let her know if she’s interested the information is out there and you can help her if she wants it.
Sometimes this is how evangelization works — in simple exchanges between friends, in genuine inquisitiveness, and in intimate sharing of faith. It sounds like you two are pretty close so I’d say don’t be worried about risking your friendship or making things awkward. Just be available for her and open to the Holy Spirit’s working.
And I look forward to hearing from you again in about or year so with the news about your friend’s initiation into the Church. Like I said, once you start praying the rosary you don’t stand a chance.