Does the rosary hanging from my rearview mirror mean I won’t get a flat tire?
The rosary is one of many sacramentals in the Church. When I was a child at St. Columban’s school, I was taught that a “sacramental is anything set apart or blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to increase devotion, and through these movements of the heart to remit venial sin.” I’m tipping my hat here to the Baltimore Catechism.
So the rosary is set apart by the Church not as decoration but as a real means of increasing devotion and virtue in us. The more and more that we make use of the sacramentals of the Church, the more we grow in friendship with God and move away from sin. So what about the flat tire?
When I was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Santa Ana I remember a gang member who was known in the neighborhood to be very violent. Around his neck he was wearing a rosary. I asked him if he didn’t think there was a contradiction as to what he was wearing and how he was living. His answer was simple and direct: “The Virgin will protect me from getting killed.” I responded that instead, the wearing of the rosary while involved in so much violence and human destruction was offensive to the Virgin and that he most certainly would not find the Virgin an accessory to his crime.
So even holy things can be misused and become superstition. When I wear or use a sacramental like the rosary or the scapular, it should signal to the world that I am a believer. The sacramental speaks of that which I hold in my heart. With right intention, the rosary hanging from the mirror may indeed provide spiritual protection, but its real purpose is that it marks me as a believer in Christ.
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