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It's Bad Advice to Pray when Driving

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Dear Fr. Sretenovic,

I want to address this statement in one of your articles on the TIA website: “For two to three hours at a time at work and subsequently “fall behind” in this commitment. But then there is always the ride home, which for most people is more than five to ten minutes, so decades can be made up for in the drive. It does take a little bit of planning ahead and at times those unexpected circumstances do arise. Hard working mothers who are home with their children also face varying circumstances. But, as the old saying goes, ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.’”

I admire your effort of spreading the pious practice of praying 15 decades of the rosary every day, but I wanted to mention a concern with which I have about a manner in how it is prayed.

I was under the impression that a rosary well said was a rosary well received. It was understood to me that the rosary should be prayed while meditating on the mysteries. That was how Our Lady asked us to pray.

Pope Paul VI statement of “babbling the words” comes to mind when trying to pray the rosary while under the spell of driving to avoid the other guy. I find it very difficult to pray one Hail Mary while driving, how can one meditate on the mysteries while doing a complicated endeavor such as driving?

I realize there are people who are up to their eyeballs in work, but I have to assume there are better methods of praying, such as “finding” the time at home.

The reason I bring this up this way is that I had an encounter with a friend over this very same thing. It just gave me pause to think that Our Lady isn’t up for a soul less rosary, as Paul VI says, and especially when St. Montfort came down very hard on those to prayed the rosary in such a lax manner, as I mentioned to my friend.

No disrespect intended to you or anyone else, just concerned that many would take the easy road of many rosaries without due reflection on the mysteries.


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Fr. Sretenovic responds:
Dear T.B.,

I have received from TIA your email concerning my article on the 15 Decades of the Rosary, which I am answering now. I understand your concerns and appreciate the sincerity with which you wrote.

The presupposition of your objection is that it is difficult to concentrate when driving. I believe you should realize that for many people it is not difficult to do that, unless the traffic is particularly agitated. Driving often becomes second nature, which allows persons to think about other topics.

Let me give some examples: First, it is not rare to find people like a friend of mine who drives a lot and has the habit of listening to read-aloud-books during his trips, and he can follow the texts quite well. Second, you can observe how many people speak on their cell-phones while driving. Many of them are not just “babbling the words” on the phone, but are seriously discussing intricate topics with others, paying close attention to what they are saying. If so many persons speak with others while driving, why couldn’t they speak also with Our Lord and Our Lady by saying their Rosaries?

So we are working with different presuppositions. What is difficult for you often is easy for others. I am one of the latter ones. This is why I take advantage of my driving-time to pray parts of my Rosary, and I mentioned that option in my article.

I thank you for your objection because it shows me that I should not generalize by affirming that it is easy for everyone to pray the Rosary while driving; in turn, you should not generalize that the person who does so is always doing it improperly.

Let me point out, however, that I certainly did not recommend praying the whole Rosary in the car as the best option. But some need to do this if they are to pray the entire Rosary daily, and this to me is in no way presumptuous or disrespectful.

I am glad to see that both of us agree that the Rosary must be said seriously, with our minds directed toward God and Our Lady, meditating either on the words of the Creed, the Our Fathers and Hail Marys, or on the mysteries of the Rosary, or further, on the graces that we are asking for.

Another objection that seems to be implicit in the last part of your e-mail is not very clear to me. It is when you apparently argue, citing Paul VI, that it does not matter to Our Lady how many Hail Marys she receives. If this is what you wanted to say, I ought to disagree. On many occasions, she has stressed that we must pray the 15 decades of the Rosary.

Finally, I do not believe what you mentioned about St. Louis de Montfort applies in the case of my article, because I did not advocate praying the Rosary in "such a lax manner."

My advice is to give Our Lady as many roses as possible, even if every one of them is not as beautiful as we would like them to be. Remember that this is our Mother we are talking about here who, yes, deserves all of our respect, but who also knows that we are but children and receives well even our imperfect “roses.”

These roses offered to Our Lady are also roses to crown ourselves. Here is how St. Louis de Montfort insists on the praying of the full Rosary daily:

"So by all means we should eagerly crown ourselves with these roses from Heaven, and recite the entire Rosary [rosarie in French] every day, that is to say three Rosaries [chapelets in French] each of five decades which are like three little wreaths or crowns of flowers. And there are two reasons for doing this:

"First of all, to honor the three crowns of Jesus and Mary - Jesus' crown of grace at the time of His Incarnation, His crown of thorns during His Passion and His crown on glory in Heaven, and, of course, the three-fold crown which the Most Blessed Trinity gave Mary in Heaven.

"Secondly, we should do this so that we ourselves may receive three crowns from Jesus and Mary. The first is a crown of merit during our lifetime, the second, a crown of peace at our death, and the third, a crown of glory in Heaven." (Secret of the Rosary, section, "A Red Rose to Sinners").

     God bless you,

     Fr. Paul Sretenovic

Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted October 19, 2010
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