Summer is almost here, which means more out-of-town weekend trips and week-long (or longer!) vacations that leave some of us Catholics away from our home parishes on Sunday.
Travel, vacations and being away from our home parishes on Sunday can present a dilemma for us Catholics and we often scramble to find a Parish and Mass conveniently located and timed to our travel schedule. We might sometimes wonder if it’s really necessary to attend Mass while we’re on vacation and if the scrambling to find a church is really necessary. We’ll sometimes say to ourselves, “Oh, I’m on vacation! God will understand if I don’t go to Mass this Sunday.”
Um… NO… Sorry… You’ve still got to go to Mass on Sundays. Yes, God is a loving, compassionate and understanding God. But God has also given us guidelines, rules and expectations to help us live our lives. These things God has given us help keep us holy and happy, allow us to rightly place God before our own desires and inclinations and will help us get to Heaven to be with Him one day. So why would we ignore these things purposefully?
Attending Mass on Sunday is an Obligation!?!
Attending and participating in Mass on Sundays is part of our Sunday obligation outlined in the Precepts of the Catholic Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2042-2043), and is reflected in the third of the Ten Commandments given to Moses.
The Precepts of the Catholic Church are duties that the Catholic Church requires of all the faithful. If any Christian purposefully disregards the Precepts of the Catholic Church or the Ten Commandments for a reason that is not serious (serious reasons include things like significant illness or caring for someone who is significantly ill), they have committed a mortal sin. Having a mortal sin upon your soul means you are putting your soul in significant danger and must attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation before being able to receive the Eucharist again.
It’s also important to pay attention to how the first precept is worded: “You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.” There’s nothing that says, “But if you are ‘x’ number of miles away from your home parish” or “If you’re on vacation” you don’t have to attend Mass. The obligation (expectation) that you attend Mass is there, no matter where you are.
Using Technology to Travel Like a Catholic
So how do you find a Catholic parish near where you are traveling or vacationing? With technology it is easier than it use to be (I remember looking at the Yellow pages and having to call parishes to find out Mass times back in the day), and as time goes on, hopefully it will become even easier.
(From their website) The purpose of the Mass Times ministry is to help Catholics get to Mass by helping them find churches and worship times worldwide. We do this by hosting and sharing the most comprehensive database of Catholic churches and worship times in existence. We provide worship times, church locations, contact information, website links and maps. There are 117,000 churches in 201 countries/territories.
Though a little out-of-date on the website design (it’s gotten better over the past year), this website has been my first stop for finding Catholic Parishes and Mass times when I travel for over ten years.
(From their website) The Catholic Directory website provides Catholics with free, easy-to-use, and reliable resources to find important information about Catholic churches anywhere in the world. The website includes the most current information about churches, mass times, contact information, and locations. The directory also includes Catholic diocese, schools, ministries, and other official organizations.
I’ve only used this site a handful of times for finding Mass times, but it does a good job of providing you with lots of information. Plus they have an app for iPhone users.
(From their website) Parishes Online is the online U.S. directory of the Catholic Church. Find Catholic Churches, Mass Times, Pastors, Bulletins, Maps, Dioceses, Schools… and much more!
While the Main Contact information is significantly out of date for many parishes (I looked at several of the Diocese of Austin parishes I know), the “Display Catholic Churches by Area Code” search option is a nice, distinctly different feature.
The USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops website does not have an online directory or listing of parishes, but they do have a comprehensive list of all US Diocese, which can be useful depending on what information you may be looking for.
Google/Bing/Any Search Engine
If you’re looking for a local parish and will need a map, sometimes just using a search engine to help you find the closest church can be the best option for you. But, the downside is the need to search through various parish websites for Mass times. MassTimes.org, TheCatholicDirectory.com and ParishesOnline.com do that work for you.
Become a “Roamin’ ” Catholic!
I love traveling and visiting other places, experiencing various cultures and traditions when traveling and roaming around exploring. And when you attend Mass somewhere other than your home parish, you get to experience the universality of our faith.
I find great joy in visiting other parishes, witnessing their beauty and exploring their devotions. And I’ve been blessed with some random surprises by keeping my Sunday Obligation and exploring churches while traveling, including getting to attend Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, finding what I consider the most beautiful Adoration Chapel in the world in Padua, Italy and seeing local parishes in China decorated for Pentecost. And Just this past New Year’s when my husband and I were in Memphis, Tennessee, we ended up attending Mass at the National Shrine of St. Martin de Porres. We wouldn’t have ended up visiting this beautiful parish and visiting this shrine if it hadn’t been for fulfilling the Holy Day of Obligation Mass attendance in honor of Mary, Mother of God, one of the “easy” days to forget, since it’s on New Year’s Day.
And so in a few clicks you too can easily find a Mass that fits your travel schedule, or just find the parishes, shrines and more near where you’re traveling that you might want to explore. You never know what beautiful Catholic experience the Holy Spirit will end up sending you to, so be sure to Travel Like a Catholic this summer and be a “Roamin’ ” Catholic!