There was a time when seminarians would be sent on their summer break with this reminder — there’s no vacation from a vocation. It was good advice to the distractions of being out of the seminary environment.
The same reminder could be in order for good practicing Catholics who might be tempted to sleep a little later while on vacation at the shore or in the mountains. Getting to Mass on Sunday might be slightly inconvenient, but we need to remember that we are members of the church community both in season and out of season.
These days it would be hard to prove that Mass was not available wherever we happened to travel. Sure, there is a clergy shortage and priests are hard pressed to meet all the scheduled liturgies, but the church is organized well enough that Mass is probably available, regardless of where you are.
One resource for travelers is masstimes.org where you simply type in the city, state and Zip code and the site will inform you of Mass schedules in the area.
Another good discipline in the summer months is dressing appropriately for church. Of course, acceptable garb is a relative thing, given where and when you attend, but let’s not succumb to clothing that would be appropriate for a dip in the ocean. There should be some standards for how we dress when we go to church.
Attending Mass in another part of the state or country or even the world also can be an exciting and educational experience. There are subtle differences to the ways the liturgy adapts to local cultures. While the core of the liturgy is always the same, often there are slight variations on how we celebrate. Hymns may be unfamiliar. New homilists can be inspiring. Options for certain parts of the Mass may be employed.
Being part of a different congregation can be eye-opening and the cause for new insights into our routine practices and devotions. It can remind us that while we are all different in appearance, we all believe in the one same Lord.
Attending Mass in another part of the country can also help us realize that not every part of the nation is experiencing the same phenomena as we are in the Northeast. For example, someone attending Mass in Florida may very well be overwhelmed by the large size of the Sunday church attendance. While we have been experiencing some decline in Mass attendance here, other parts of the country have been challenged by growth and the influx of new Catholics to their areas. It’s encouraging for us to see the growth of the church in so many other regions.
We will have our chance to affirm our Catholic identity on Aug. 15, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is the forgotten holy day of the liturgical calendar because it occurs in the middle of the summer when most people would rather relax.
Resist the temptation to conveniently forget that we have a holy day in summertime. Let’s redouble our effort to attend Mass and to maintain our Catholic tradition. We are one and holy. Be part of the Catholic community around the world that honors Mary, the Mother of Jesus, on this special feast.
Enjoy your vacation, but remember to keep the faith!