When I was a kid, my mom proudly sported a rosary on the rearview mirror of our Station Wagon. It's probably good she did, because she'd take my siblings and I on 7 hour road trips, and we'd be in hooligan mode, rolling around in the back of that thing (when our seatbelt-less bodies were supposed to be asleep).
One day, our parish priest approached her and shared his weighted disapproval of rosaries on display in cars. "They are a blessed tool for prayer, not an accessory!" I heard him exclaim. My mother promptly removed the guilty party. For many years, when I would see rosaries dangling from the mirrors of other cars, I'd be all: Uh oh, thaaas baaad.
I think our priest at the time had had his fill of Madonna choosing rosaries as her go-to necklace, and perhaps also had encountered too many cultural Catholics who would hang the rosary as a sort of good luck charm while having no intention of actually using it to pray.
I respected the reasons for his admonition: I knew he had a deep love for Our Lady and a strong devotion to the rosary. However, I must admit I feel a little differently than my dear childhood priest.
I love seeing rosaries in cars!
I've thought a lot about it and here are my 5 reasons you should consider having a rosary on display in your car:
*DISCLAIMER: Someone informed me that in some states it's illegal to have anything hanging from your rearview mirror, so this might mean finding an alternative way to display your rosary (clipped to your visor or dangling from your vent perhaps).
1. It provides accountability. Knowing that my rosary is on display while I'm driving reminds me that even behind the wheel of a car, I'm called to be a Christian (similar to a metal fish or bumper sticker). My encounters I have behind the wheel shouldn't be at odds with my face to face encounters. I know others can see my rosary dangling from my mirror and it holds me accountable. It makes me want to exhibit patience and courtesy as a driver and to steer clear from road rage.
2. It's a reminder to pray. I can get lost in thought, as I drive, but having the rosary on the mirror I turn to most frequently reminds me to focus my thoughts. Time in the car provides a great opportunity to converse with Christ and contemplate His life. Hello rosary! Having those gleaming beads dangling in front of me makes it easy to reach out and make use of that beautiful tool. It's so accessible! I know some would be nervous about getting distracted while driving, but for me, praying the rosary calms me and I don't find it difficult to pray and drive (especially when I have that handy dandy rosary instead of trying to keep count on my fingers).
3. It's a reminder to see the humanity in other drivers. Seeing the rosary in other people's vehicles makes me smile. No, I don't know if they're really strong in their faith, if they pray or go to church, but I am reminded that they are a child of God and deserve respect. This impacts my driving in a good way. It calls me to see the person behind the wheel rather than heed my instinct, which is to simply see a car. In my way. Get out of my way, Car.
4. It's a good conversation starter. I once gave a fellow student of mine a ride. We were delivering props for a play that was being put on in Toronto. He noted the rosary. "Are you Catholic?" he asked. I told him I was. He shared that he was raised a Catholic, but only in name and we entered into a really good discussion about what Catholics really believe and why. It was all new to him and he able to talk about his frustrations in trying to understand certain teachings. I'm not sure of the impact or if seeds were planted, but I do know that the important discussion was triggered at the sight of the unassuming rosary swaying below my mirror. It was an entry point for some evangelizing.
5. It's comforting! The presence of the rosary in a car, is the presence of a holy item. No, it's not a good luck charm, but there are benefits to having blessed items in our midst. We are a sacramental people and draw comfort from signs of God's presence in our lives. I'm also comforted when I see the rosary in other people's cars, as it's a testament that somehow our Catholic, universal faith has touched their lives in some capacity. It helps remind me that God's family is vast. There are so many of us brothers and sisters in Christ. We are loved beyond measure and we are absolutely not alone.
I hope this won't be a controversial post - I know some people have strong feelings about road rosaries, but this is a call to try to incorporate the rosary into your daily life. We are about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Our Lady appearing in Fatima and her incessant plea was that we pray the rosary more: contemplate Christ's life, receive the abundant graces, make reparations for sin and cling to this devotion with all it's promises - If you're like me and need a reminder of what those promises are: Click here!!!