Friday, February 3, 2012

Running (or walking or working) with the Rosary

St. Louis de Monfort

After my last post about the Rosary for those who, like me, have difficulties in saying it, I kept thinking about the topic, and I wanted to bring up a couple of things that I was musing over.

One question that I have been pondering: 

Is it "OK" to say the Rosary while doing something else, like walking or running or driving or even working, or even lying down?

 I wondered that because I have so often said Rosaries while nursing a baby, or driving long distances in the car, or sometimes  even while doing the laundry or washing the dishes.   Recently I have been saying the Rosary while walking or while riding the stationery bike.  All of these things occupy my body but leave my inner self fairly peaceful and quiet, so prayer seems to come naturally while doing them.  While when I am stationary and unoccupied while praying, I often fall asleep or inadvertently daydream. 

I found an answer, again, in the writing of St Louis Marie de Montfort.

I would like to add that the Rosary ought to be said reverently, that is to say, it ought to be said as much as possible, kneeling, with hands joined, clasping the rosary. However, if you are ill, you can, of course, say it in bed; or if one is travelling it can be said while walking; if, on account of some infirmity, you cannot kneel you can say it standing or sitting.

You can even say it while working if your duties do not allow you to leave your job, for work with one's hands is not always incompatible with vocal prayer.

I agree that, since the soul has its limitations and can only do so much, when we are concentrating on manual work we are less attentive to the activities of the spirit, such as prayer. But when we cannot do otherwise, this kind of prayer is not without its value in our Lady's eyes, and she rewards our good- will more than our exterior actions.

 So the answer would be that it is indeed "OK" though the norm is still kneeling with the rosary clasped in hand.      "OK" would mean that the practice of praying the Rosary while doing something else can be reverent and have spiritual value.

On the other hand, as one would expect, multi-tasking is probably not the ideal with anything.     If you can, it is best to devote your entire body to prayer, or so I understand it. 

If you can't manage this, for whatever reason, you can still say the Rosary while doing something else that leaves your mind and heart free for prayer.

While searching for things on praying while running, I found a nice story about Alberto Salazar and the Rosary.   My husband and I really admired legendary long-distance runner Salazar as University of Oregon students back in the early 80's.  Salazar lived in Eugene for several years and I even taught his son in CCD for a couple of months before the family moved to Portland.   This is from the article: 

“I was…the average Catholic,” Salazar told me. “I told people I had faith, but everything else was second place to running. I could usually fit in both Mass and my 20-mile runs on Sundays, but if there was a conflict, the 20-mile runs would win. Intellectually, I knew that God, my wife and child were most important, but in my heart, running was my god.” But when a series of serious injuries kept Salazar out of the winner’s circle for twelve years, Alberto regained his Catholicism and signed on for one last race, the 53.75-mile Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa.

While some in the press laughed at him for being too old, and many in the crowd booed him as a “brash American,” the jeers miraculously turned to cheers, when, after briefly dropping out at the 30-mile mark, Alberto resumed running, now praying the rosary out loud. “The crowd saw that I was humbled and could actually see there was a higher force working within me,” Salazar recalled “and not only did they start to cheer, many even began praying the rosary with me,” spurring Salazar on to victory in his final competition. 
It does seem to me that there is an integral connection between exercise and the prayer life, and perhaps especially between regular exercise and the Rosary.   Both can be difficult, tedious and somewhat humbling; both are very valuable, one to strengthen the physical fibre, the other to strengthen one spiritually.

A couple of years ago I read Bernanos' Diary of a Country Priest and I was very struck by this from an older priest to a younger, suffering one.

"If you can't pray -- at least say your prayers!  Look!  I've done some struggling in my time, too.   The devil used to make me loathe prayers, so, once, that I would sweat all over my rosary getting through it.    Try to realize that!"
That reminded me that the Rosary, while difficult to say regularly for some of us, is also very suited to the most difficult of circumstances.    It is in many ways a prayer for regular folk in the world, a sort of heartbeat of ordinary life, an aerobic exercise for the spirit.    Though it is important to say it with reverence and attention, it is meant to be part of the ordinary rhythm of ordinary life; its flexibility allows it to be incorporated into many different daily routines.  

ETA:  Faith mentioned that Pope Benedict XVI says the Rosary while walking and it's true

Benedict XVI has a deep devotion to Mary, the spokesman said, noting that the Pontiff prays the rosary walking every day with his secretaries. He "invites us to us this prayer," Father Lombardi affirmed, "simple, humble, daily, which everyone can pray with devotion and which helps us also to meditate on the mysteries of the life of Christ together with Mary, who is obviously the person closest to Christ.


  1. I pray the rosary, doing all the above. I try to pray the rosary when no one is around.

  2. I have a very hard time praying the rosary. I go in and out with it. If there is a lot of distraction in my life, my prayer seems to naturally take other forms. This used to make me feel guilty, that I should always be sitting in my quiet living room with my beads taking 20+ minutes to say the Rosary each day. But then someone pointed out to me that Pope Benedict combines walking with saying his rosary. That was a revelation to me. So now if I'm taking a walk or driving, I figure I'm just as a good as the Pope, if I say my rosary then!

  3. Sometimes I pray it quietly, with my family.....but mostly while I work....walk.....and often alone. At least this time in my life. It is helping me to stay focused while I pray using the download from The Rosary Army on my iPhone.

    Offering prayers for all of you......


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