My whole thing is liturgical living in the HOME, right? Right. But as much as I prefer to be home, daily time in the car is pretty unavoidable. As my family grew, we spent more time in the car on errands and drop-offs and pick-ups. As we spent more time in the car, I realized that there was really no reason why our liturgical living in the home-type practices couldn’t carry over into our time on the road. In fact, the benefit and the goal of making the practice of our faith a priority in the home, is that it carries over into everything we do!
Most of these practices developed naturally for us over the years. They are certainly not unique to our family, but they aren’t things *I* grew up doing . . . so often the kids are the ones to remind me about them! And while I don’t think I’ll give up grumbling about driving any time soon, I’ve come to really appreciate the car as a great place to pray together as a family. If we’re going to be trapped there every day, we can use that time for good!
Here are five simple practices that work for us for being more Catholic in the car.
Make the Sign of the Cross when Passing a Catholic Church
As Catholics, we believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist in every tabernacle of every Catholic Church in the world. That means every time I drive past a Catholic Church . . . JESUS IS IN THERE! It’s a big deal! A simple yet powerful way to acknowledge that Truth is to pause the conversation, turn down the radio, and make the Sign of the Cross, focusing for a brief moment on Our Lord, as we drive past. In our family we also usually add a quick Act of Spiritual Communion prayer.
The kids are so used to it that they just naturally interrupt themselves mid-sentence to say the prayer, then roll right back into the conversation. If we have a couple minutes to spare, we’ll stop in front of the church to pray for a moment, or run inside to make a quick visit to the Blessed Sacrament. But even when it’s just that brief act of making the Sign of the Cross, I really cannot say enough for this beautiful way to witness the Truth of what we believe as Catholics to our children, our friends in the car with us, people waiting at the bus stop, etc.
Say the Eternal Rest Prayer when Passing a Cemetery
Another one that’s second nature to us these days is to say the Eternal Rest Prayer when passing a cemetery.
Each year, in observance of the Holy Souls Indulgence in the first week of November, we make a point to drive past a cemetery each day, out of our way if necessary, to be able to pray for the dead on each of the eight days of the plenary indulgence. From that practice, developed our family habit of saying the Eternal Rest Prayer any time we pass a cemetery year-round (for which there is always a partial indulgence!).
This is another example of actions speaking loudly. As Catholics, we believe that prayers for the dead are important and efficacious. What better way to prove that we believe it, than to make a habit of actually doing it?!
Say the Memorare when Hearing an Emergency Siren
My little kids ask a lot of questions. They want to know about ambulances and police cars and fire trucks and where they’re going and why. I tell them that these first responders are off in a hurry to help someone. Having had more than our fair share of ambulance rides in the past few years, I think it’s a fair assumption to make that, wherever that siren is headed . . . the people involved could use our prayers.
Any prayer will do, but I especially like the Memorare for petitionary prayer. Ask Mom, she’ll help.
I think it’s been effective over the years as a way to teach and model empathy. It can be tempting to focus on curiosity, on “rubbernecking” to try to see what’s going on at an accident site, or if someone is pulled over. Or to be frustrated by traffic and delay. But it’s always better to focus myself on charity and prayer instead.
Say the Rosary
I’ve talked about this one many times on the blog, starting here, and here’s the video version . . .
but I’ll say it again: over many years for our family, the car has proven to be the most effective, most predictable, most consistent way to get to a family Rosary. It’s not always perfect, but that’s okay!
We say a family Rosary together, especially on longer car rides, but we’ll also do one on the way to and from Mass. We share intentions, we take turns leading, people get reminded to speak up and quit spacing out. Sometimes it's frustrating. But it happens, and that’s the most important thing.
Pray by the Clock
Liturgical living gives rhythm and order to the year, with particular devotions and ways to focus our prayer assigned to different days and seasons. But liturgical living can also give rhythm and order to each day!
Having a “Plan of Life” in which we commit to particular prayers and devotions at particular times of day is a VERY effective way to consistently weave prayer throughout the day. Especially for folks with a regular driving schedule, deciding to set some of those regular devotions at times when you know you’ll be in the car can be a great way to make sure they happen. After all, cars these days have clocks, which are precise, reliable, and, um, stout-hearted?
I always plan to say a Morning Offering and a Guardian Angel Prayer first thing when I wake up, but I *also* plan to say them again with the school kids in the car in the morning (and again with the homeschooled kids when we start our school day). So . . . odds are REALLY good that it’s actually going to happen for me.
I also keep an eye on the car clock for other devotions like the noon Angelus (or, during the Easter season, the Regina Caeli) or a 3pm Divine Mercy chaplet. As noted above, I try to work in a Visit to the Blessed Sacrament, even if it’s sometimes from the car because I love you, Jesus, but I’m not waking up this baby. And a Rosary. And Spiritual Reading can happen via podcast. And getting myself to Mass or Confession happens in the car. So, the car is really a whole Plan of Life facilitation machine, when you really think about it, right?
Anyway, these practices have made a big difference for my personal life of faith, and have been a help to my family. I hope some of them will work for you, too, and we’ll all be liturgical driving in no time!
P.S. Super exciting news . . . the Catholic All Year Liturgical Living Subscription Boxes are in stock and are perfect to up your Ordinary Time game. Each monthly box contains some great resources specifically related to three saints whose feast days fall during the month!