At the end of this week, I will be leaving for a week of vacation in Wisconsin with my family. My parents spend the summer months there as a way of escaping the intense heat and humidity of Houston, Texas where they live for the rest of the year. I am excited that all of my siblings will be able to be together for a few days, something which has become rare in recent years with everybody living in different parts of the country. Going on vacation is always a relaxing experience for me, but planning for vacation is not always relaxing! Most of my planning this year has revolved around retooling my fishing tackle to target walleye which are (hopefully) abundant in the waters of Central Wisconsin.
One aspect of planning for vacation that has become a lot less stressful over the past 11 years is figuring out how to get to Mass while on vacation. As a priest, I am privileged to be able to celebrate Mass without having to figure out a time and place. I realize that most Catholics do not have this luxury, but I bring it up as something that all Catholics should keep in mind, especially as many of us may be making plans for our summer vacations. If it is not already on your list, please put a priority on making sure you know when and where Mass is available so that you can continue to fulfill your Sunday obligation. The obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation is not lifted just because we are on vacation. We had a saying in the seminary when we would be off for a break, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. The saying was: don’t take a vacation from your vocation. This was meant to encourage us to continue to take time for prayer each day and to attend Mass, daily if possible, as was our practice in the seminary. Every Christian has the common vocation to holiness, so we must be very attentive to living out this vocation, even while on vacation. As I mentioned, this means first and foremost planning ahead so as to find a time and place for Mass. There is really no room for excuses, as I have seen how people on vacation are able to navigate some pretty tricky logistics, like figuring our how to make reservations for parks or other venues, making reservations for shows or dinners, and arranging various other activities while away from home. Finding a Catholic Church and figuring out their Sunday Mass times is not very difficult, especially with the Internet. You may also be aware of a handy website that lists Mass times all over the place – https://masstimes.org/
In addition to attending Mass on Sunday (or more frequently if you desire) while on vacation, think about those other practices that can help you to live your Christian vocation while on vacation. If you are driving for vacation, consider praying a family Rosary together. Bring along your Bible or another spiritual book to read. As you may know, our parish has a subscription to FORMED, which has a mobile app that gives you access to a ton of great Catholic content. The Augustine Institute, which is host of FORMED, also has the Amen app which has a variety of prayers. There is also another great app called Hallow which has a lot of great Catholic content, even with the free plan. Catholic radio is also accessible through their mobile apps, such as EWTN and Relevant Radio. It has never been easier to access great Catholic content!
Now, I am not suggesting that you need to spend all your time listening to Catholic materials while on vacation, but why not spend some of your time being fed with these great resources that strengthen our faith, which will, in the end, make for a better vacation, and a better life. So as you plan an upcoming vacation, heed that good advice shared with me – don’t take a vacation from your vocation!