Most families will book a vacation for at least a week, if not longer, during the brief summer months while the kids are out of school and mom and dad have vacation time off of work. That means staying at your destination for one or more weekends. Weekends at home are like a mini vacation where you might take the time for leisure, rest, and a little excitement for a day or two. When you are at home, there is a routine. Shopping happens on days when mom or dad can get to the store, laundry gets done on specific days or when needed, chores have to get done and, oh yes, mass is on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, when planning for a vacation, mass is not included in the itinerary when, in fact, it is a great opportunity to see the history and the beauty of the Church in the area where you will be spending your time. It only adds to the holiday experience.
It becomes an adventure for the children to be taken into different places of worship as we have found out on our current holiday; whether it’s the newly renovated church we saw in Denver, the Cabrini Shrine in the US Rockies, or the basilica in Santa Fe which is celebrating its 400th anniversary. The history in Santa Fe is astonishing and most of what we learned about it came through going to the various churches in the area. We went into the San Miguel mission, the oldest continuously attended church in North America, where there is a bell that was cast in Spain in 1356. The story goes that it was made in honour of St. Joseph after the Spanish drove the Moors out of Spain. How it ended up in Santa Fe is a bit of a mystery, but to be able to see and touch that kind of history is just amazing. There is a legend that says that if you ring that bell, you will most certainly return to Santa Fe. We were sure to ring it!
What amazes us the most is that wherever you go in this world, there is a Catholic Church that you can go to and celebrate the mass and know that it is the very same sacrifice, once, for all; the same Eucharist, the same sacrament that you receive at your home parish. No matter where we are at the time, when we enter into the mysteries of Holy Mass, we are at home. This even applies in places like Disney World where we attended Mary Queen of the Universe Shrine or a beautiful church in Key West called Mary Queen of the Seas. We try to fill our senses with the most we can on a vacation through sightseeing, partaking of the local cuisine, soaking up the sun or just relaxing and doing nothing – a departure from our normal routine. When we enter into the celebration of the mass, it is also designed to fill up our senses through the prayer responses, the various postures during the liturgy and, of course, receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. Don’t let this wonderful opportunity pass you by when you plan your family’s vacation this summer. Invite The Holy Family to come with you in prayer and in practice by attending mass at the local parish.