Mountain bike. Check.
Swim suit. Check.
Sunday Mass schedule. Huh?
When planning summer vacation, make Sunday Mass part of the experience.
“Remember back in the days when missing Mass on Sunday was a sin? Well it still is,” said Father Andrew Kemberling, pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial. “God thought it was so important, he made it one of his ‘Top 10.’”
Number three of “God’s Top 10” commands the faithful to “Honor the Sabbath day.”
Father Michael Freihofer, pastor of St. Anne Parish in Grand Lake and mission churches St. Bernard of Montjoux in Fraser/Winter Park and Our Lady of the Snow in Granby, concurred saying a false rumor has persisted for years that Catholics do not have to attend Mass while on vacation.
“People who spread this rumor are jeopardizing their salvation,” he said. “If we miss Mass, we miss receiving our Savior in the Eucharist. We cannot be like Jesus if we do not receive him.”
While attending Sunday Mass is indeed a year-round obligation, it is also a privilege and can be one of the most rewarding activities during vacation.
“By going to Mass, we receive God’s love and can bring it to every activity of vacation—hiking trails, swimming pool, fishing boat, ski slopes,” explained Father Freihofer, whose mountain churches host many tourists.
Father Freihofer said he has been acquainted with families who went to daily Mass while on vacation, and they said it was the best vacation they have ever had. Unexpectedly, it turned into a retreat for them.
Mass is a perfect occasion to thank God for the resources that made the vacation possible.
“God is the one who gives us the gifts of time and money to go on vacation,” he said. “So why wouldn’t we thank him and praise him for our vacation?”
He begins several homilies a year by asking how many people are visitors. Many weekends the majority of congregants raise their hands.
“I tell them that they did the right thing by coming,” he said.
Mass while traveling is also an opportunity to spend time with the larger Catholic community.
“Everywhere you go, Mass is a ‘little piece of home,’” said Father Kemberling. “There’s something familiar in every town, every city, every state, every country—it’s comforting.”
He added that Catholic Churches all over the world serve as a built-in support system.
“When you visit a church and meet fellow Catholics, it really puts a human face on your vacation,” he explained. “You can also get an insider’s view on where to eat, what to see and what to do in a particular place.”
For parents, it is important to show children that attending Mass while on vacation is part of the culture of their family.
“Children only know the world you give them,” he said. “It is broadening for them to see other churches.”
He said parents can build the excitement for their children by planning “where” and “when” they will go to Mass, then enthusiastically sharing the details: “Oh, we’re going to go to ‘the shrine’ or to ‘the cathedral!’ Remind children they can receive Communion at any church in the entire world.”
He also suggested letting children do the research on the Internet, before the trip. Web sites such as masstimes.org, or diocesan and parish Web sites, make it easy to find a church and the associated Mass times anywhere.
“Your children will probably surprise you at all the information they find,” he said.
He added that children routinely confess that they miss Mass on Sunday.
“I tell parents, ‘It’s your fault.’ Don’t put your children’s souls in jeopardy by having them miss Mass on Sunday.”