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I pray before making a journey by car, says bishop

By Susan Gately - 04 August, 2018

Pic by S. Gately

Bishop Fintan Monahan is urging all road users to take extra care over this August bank holiday weekend and to say a prayer before driving.

After 6.30 p.m. Mass in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Ennis, Co. Clare this evening (Saturday 4 August), the Bishop of Killaloe will lead a ‘Blessing of the Roads’ ceremony and offer prayers for the safety of all road users.

“I firmly believe that prayer and reflection can change our driving behaviour, calm our aggression, remind us of the spiritual, moral and physical importance of what we are about to do,” he said in advance of the ceremony.

His comments came as Garda statistics showed 88 people had died on the roads up to yesterday (3 August). This is down slightly on 2017, when there were 94 fatalities by this time last year.

Data released this week also shows that over 60,000 motorists have been caught speeding in the first 6 months of 2018, while over 5,000 motorists drove while intoxicated.

“Bank holiday weekends are high-risk times on our roads,” said Bishop Monaghan. “These statistics show how important it is to make driver safety, and the safety of others on our roads, a priority at all times.”

Speaking to CatholicIreland, Bishop Monahan said that he always prayed before making a journey by car. “I think it has the effect both in making me as a driver aware of the potential danger and the responsibility involved, and also [it gives me a] genuine belief that the Lord will keep us safe on the road as well.”

As bishop, he presides over many funerals of victims of road traffic accidents. “It is one of the most difficult things any pastor has to do,” he said. “A huge amount of emotional energy is invested in trying to empathise and pray effectively with the families, friends and communities involved in such sad and tragic circumstances.”

While he has not lost family members in traffic accidents, as a priest he was involved with “quite a number of people in such unfortunate circumstances. As you might imagine, people’s lives change utterly as a result of someone close to them being tragically killed.”

In the lead-up to the 9th World Meeting of Families and the visit of Pope Francis, Bishop Monahan has invited people to pray for “families who have lost loved ones, as it is the family who must carry the burden in such tragic circumstances”.

Asked if he had made representations to local councils about the state of certain roads, Bishop Monahan told CatholicIreland that generally he found the councils were “doing their best and making a serious effort to ensure good conditions” and he praised the work of the Gardaí and emergency services.

Bishop Monahan recommends the following dedicated prayers for motorists which can be said before driving: the 17th century paidir as Gaeilge  –In ainm an Athar le bua, In ainm an Mhic a d’fhulaing an phian, In ainm an Spiorad Naoimh le neart, Muire is a Mac linn inár dtriall. Áiméan!

… or a contemporary prayer in the English language: Holy Mother, hear our prayer, Keep us in your loving care, Whatever the perils of the way, Let us not add to them this day. So to our caution and attention, We add a prayer for your protection, To beg God’s blessing on this car, To travel safely near and far. Amen.

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