Blogger’s Note: This post appeared as the Sunday, August 1, bulletin column for St. Michael Catholic Church.
Last weekend our family went to Sunday Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Watertown, South Dakota. The pews were full; the priest, energetic; and we took part in blessing a couple celebrating 40 years of marriage with the same blessing song used by our Christ Renews His Parish retreats and St. Michael Catholic School:
May the blessing of the Lord be upon you/we bless you in the name of the Lord.
We caused much worry and concern as our youngest daughter, Lily, bolted from the worship space with her hands over her mouth as if she were going to be sick—and relief when she returned with a gap in her smile, having lost a tooth. And we delighted in Father inviting up a young boy who had drawn for him a picture of the Lord with the message Trust In Jesus on it.
“You love Jesus, don’t you?” said the priest, and the boy nodded solemnly. “And you trust Him, like the young boy in the gospel, who gave everything he had [loaves and fishes] even though he knew it wasn’t enough.”
None of these moments would have transpired had we rose Sunday morning and decided to head for home instead of to Mass.
Going to Mass while on vacation—seeing new churches, hearing new homilies, meeting new people, and most importantly, seeking first the Kingdom of God—has become a highlight of travel for our family. Once we visited Old St. Mary’s Cathedral on the edge of Chinatown in San Francisco and were greeted with Chinese folk music on a traditional instrument by an indigent man seeking money for food on our way out. We were blessed to discover my patron’s beautiful church, St. Francis de Sales in Manistique, Michigan, during one trek across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and on another trip many years ago, our children were asked to crown the statue of Mary at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in St. Ignace—despite the fact that we were only visiting (or perhaps because of it).
We have spiritual homes away from home, like St. Michael Catholic Church in Remus, Michigan, where we attended as new parents and volunteer youth ministers; Our Lady of the Anunciation Chapel and the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck, North Dakota, where we worship with our son Brendan, his wife Becky and their son Augustine when we visit; and Our Lady of the Black Hills in Piedmont, South Dakota, where we worship with Jodi’s folks in South Dakota.
Sometimes the church or the Mass inspires us; sometimes it makes us grateful for our home parish—but it is never, ever wasted time.
So I encourage you: wherever you are next weekend, next holiday or next summer, take the time to take in Sunday Mass. The website catholicmasstime.org makes it easy—and wherever we are across time and distance, we are all together at the altar.