A bumper sticker

June 4, 2008

A bumper sticker, seen today in New Jersey:

Angry?
Need a Weapon?
Pray the Rosary.

What is unclear to me is whether the owner of this car sees the rosary to be a weapon to be directed against anger or a weapon to be directed against the object of one’s anger. That is to say, was this driver advising me to pray the rosary so that I might more effectively get back at my enemies by enlisting, in my support, the Mother of God? Or was he or she telling me that “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20), and that I need, accordingly, to beseech the Mother of God to remove from my soul this dangerous and destructive passion?

I did not have an opportunity to ask the driver of this car, since it turned onto an exit and headed south on Interstate 287.

Perhaps, because the Ave Maria, of which the rosary is largely composed, beseeches the Mother of God to “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death,” the driver of this car was saying that, if I pray this prayer, I will get a two-fold cure of anger: on the one hand, the objective situation about which I am angry will be referred, through Mary, to the God of justice, who, whether by exacting vengeance upon the wicked or by bringing them to repentance, will one way or another rectify the situation about which I am aggrieved; on the other hand, by acknowledging that sin is a universal condition in which I too share, I remove my own grounds for feeling self-righteous and vindictive against my personal or political enemies. As St. Paul writes: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

I will assume that some such thing is the bumper sticker’s intended message.

A postscript. As I was exiting the parking lot in which I wrote down these notes, I heard, and then saw, on the train tracks below, some men scuffling. I drove slowly by the scene; looking back, I saw two young men walking away towards the rail yard; a Hispanic man stood yelling at them. I drove backwards and parked; the man walked over. I offered him the use of my cellphone, so he could call the police. He showed me his hand, which had a cut, and asked if I saw anything on his face; one side of it did look a little puffy, but no cuts. He returned the phone, and said, in broken English, that calling the police was not an option, which I took to mean that he was probably in the country illegally. He shook my hand, and I drove away.

Perhaps that man, or someone close to him, will pray the rosary this night. And who is to say what will happen, in God’s providence, to the thugs who beat him up, or to the country which cynically employs illegal workers as a way of avoiding paying minimum wage and benefits to the people who do its menial labor?

8 Responses to “A bumper sticker”


  1. I don’t really see why the Rosary could not be like a two headed axe – one that cleaves away errors which anger, and anger itself.

    The Rosary has calmed me down, and also been offered in fervant supplication (on my part an many others) against evil errors which anger me like abortion, persecution, communism, etc.

  2. Dymphna Says:

    I always took that bumper sticker to mean that the Rosary is a weapon in the struggle against anger itself. Mary’s “yes” to God, her radical and complete acceptance of God’s call is a “weapon” in the spiritual struggle we all go through as human beings.

    God Bless.

  3. justinian I Says:

    Just a note- please don’t close comments so soon.

    I just read a referral to your blog on Energetic Procession, ( I’m one of the few banned from posting responses to them because of my rather, ahem, sarcastic view of their endeavor- I’m Orthodox but of RC origin, ( without any anger, disdain or disgust at Roman Catholics-in a sense, I still share many of their views and wish union was already a fait accompli). I suppose that I’m one of their sniping victims.

    As far as I’m concerned, please keep up the good work. The EP boys are dedicated Farrellites, ( he of the Death Star Pyramid Giza flying saucer of the Nazis genre), and while quite good at playing the sources game don’t quite measure up to real theology. Don’t pay them too much attention.

    And yes, you’re right. The EP boys are rather violent, even if they don’t recognize the violence they advocate.

  4. Patty Says:

    The Rosary is THE WEAPON OF PEACE.

  5. Chris Says:

    It doesn’t mean to be angry and pray. If you have anger and pray God can heal your anger instead of some people who have anger and grab a weapon instead. Also the rosary is a weapon against Satan.

  6. Chris Says:

    Unless you get on a Catholic website for a bible answers you won’t understand Mary’s role the new ark of the covenant of the living Christ. We are to lead others to Jesus and maybe one day you’ll understand Mary’s role. The Truth About Mary and Scripture: MUST SEE! Watch this on you tube and you’ll see Mary’s role would never be less then ours which we already know that much. I pray you’ll know one day. 2012 a little late on conversation and also understand how the bumper sticker could be misunderstood.

  7. bekkos Says:

    Chris,

    I don’t question Mary’s role; I question the propriety of, at least implicitly, making prayer an occasion for indulging one’s anger and inflating one’s self-righteousness. You say that that’s not what the bumper sticker means. Unfortunately, I seem to see a lot of angry religious people to whom that reading would apply. It is a phenomenon that scares me, and it is not what I understand as true Christian devotion.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Peter

  8. CJ Says:

    Ugh. No…it means we should be honest before God about what we are struggling with, be it anger or whatever. We should lay our hearts bare before Him and ask Him to transform us.

    That is what praying the rosary is all about.

    You are overthinking it. Just pray!


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