I’ve decided to use my 35-mile commute to the best spiritual advantage: Instead of sleepily listening to music or the news, I’ve made an effort to pray a whole rosary during that time. I grab my rosary from my purse (hoping one day I’ll have the rosary steering wheel cover), open up the rosary app on my iPhone, and set the cruise control to 73 mph. I know the prayers by heart, but I use the app for the Mysteries. (Especially since I still haven’t gotten the hang of the Luminous Mysteries or the days I’m supposed to pray them!)
The app gives me the mysteries for the day with a related scripture reading, as well as a short “fruit of the mystery.” Since I’m driving while praying, I skip reading the Scripture and just announce the mystery and its fruit aloud to myself (and the mouse and spider I’m certain live in my Jeep).
My close friends know that lately I’ve been going through a rough patch with my health and job. It’s difficult to balance breast cancer issues, two children, a disabled husband, and a full-time job. Add to that my love of all things Catholic and my support for prolife causes, and you can imagine how full my plate is these days.
Through my breast cancer journey, I honestly feel I’ve never questioned God’s will or succumbed fully to the depression that can easily afflict a cancer patient. I don’t blamed God for my disease. But I also admit I’ve not been nearly as devoted as I should have been in my prayer life. Despite having had seven major surgeries in the past 3 years, some people in my life seem to expect me to be quickly healed and back to giving 100% after a brief recovery period. Sometimes it’s discouraging to deal with others’ unrealistic expectations of me. Yet I’ve found that my morning rosary does wonders to help me deal with the stresses of each day.
I’ve discovered that praying the rosary is just like going to Mass (and exercising): you get out of it what you put into it. Enter into any activity with a bad attitude or even just halfheartedly and you’re setting yourself up for failure and frustration. I know this because this isn’t my maiden voyage of trying to devote my morning commute to Our Lady of the Rosary. In the past, I’ve tried praying the rosary in the mornings, only to quickly fall out of the habit. Or worse, I’ve begun the rosary only to become so immersed in thinking about my own problems (i.e., my intentions) or the stupid driver in front of me that the prayerful meditation of my rosary is lost. I was so stressed at times I couldn’t have gotten through a single Hail Mary, much less the Apostles’ Creed.
I’ve found that one of the best ways to combat the tendency to get distracted is to pray the prayers aloud. I kind of feel like a dork, but I’m not singing in the car, I’m praying in the car! Occasionally, I still miss part of a prayer due to inattention, but most often I find myself adding a prayer–the Act of Contrition–at the end of each decade. (Hmmmm…I think the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me to go to Confession.)
As I speed toward my job and away from my family, I don’t consciously pray for anything specific. I will mentally picture each mystery and its fruit as I announce it to myself, but I don’t belabor them. Since I know the prayers by heart, I can allow my mind to wander a little. And since I’m praying, my mind isn’t wandering without direction; it gets direction from the Holy Spirit. Later, as I progress through my day, I’ll suddenly realize I haven’t worried about X or Y. Instead, I’ll have an inner feeling of resolution. None of my problems have miraculously disappeared, but my perception and handling of them have improved. Even my supervisor has commented that I have a more positive attitude at work since I started praying the rosary while driving.
It isn’t a hardship to add these 73 prayers to my daily commute and I can think of no more edifying way to spend this time than meditating on the life, death, and resurrection of Our Lord. I encourage you all to find time for a daily rosary. You may be surprised by the fruits of your labor!