How Traffic Can Make You Holy

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, sometimes we just want to slow down. We long to stop rushing through life, to connect with the Lord, and grow in our capacity to love. But we can find the peace and simplicity we crave – even in traffic!

Fr. Joseph Illo recently stopped by The Inner Life® to share how his spiritual director taught him how to use traffic as an opportunity for self-denial and a way to grow in peace. Fr. Illo said:

“I’m a diocesan priest, so I live in a rectory in the city. But I have a spiritual director who lives two hours away. And I was confessing that I was driving too recklessly, too fast. And for my penance he said he wanted me to drive back to my rectory, two hours away, without ever changing a lane.

And it was a retreat. I’ll tell you, that two hours in the car of just following the car in front of me – sometimes going 50 mph on a 70 mph freeway – was a time of surrender. It was a little two-hour retreat. Simple things like that in our daily lives – choosing simplicity and deference to others.

The culture we live in is kind of a self-will culture. The value of choice, of personal freedom, of the autonomous self is a value that is promoted so much. So to go clearly against that takes will power.

To surrender to another is really the essence of self-denial. To admit that there is Someone greater than me, He loves me, He is all-powerful, and He will take care of me. I can give total surrender to that Person in loving trust, because eventually we’re going to have to do that anyway. We’re all going to die. I heard a priest say, ‘Cheer up, soon you’ll be dead and all your problems will be over!’

But to deny ourselves is a little death. It’s getting ahead of that curve by saying, ‘I’m going to surrender freely now, so that when my life is taken from me I will be at peace in giving it over to God.’

Traffic, especially for those in an urban area, is a goldmine for self-denial. Every block there is an opportunity to defer to another driver, to make an act of self-denial that leads to great peace.”

Listen to the conversation below:

The Inner Life airs weekdays at noon Eastern/9:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio®.