Published as a column in the Holy Sepulcher Bulletin for July 6, 2014
We are now well within the summer vacation season, our time to get away from our busy lives and simply relax. But Jesus says in today’s gospel:
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
Today’s gospel is a reminder for us that we truly rest only when we rest in our Lord. So whether we are heading out to a city, park, or beach for a quick weekend getaway or a two-week dream vacation, when we get away from it all, we should not include our faith and our Sunday obligation among the things we are getting away from.
Thankfully the website http://www.masstimes.org is available to help you to include Mass as part of your travel plans. It helps you to find Catholic parishes near your destination and provides the available Mass times so that you can include time with Jesus as part of your itinerary. It even provides turn-by-turn directions so that you don’t waste valuable time searching for the church.
My wife Karen and I have used it many times on vacation and it has led us to some very unique worship experiences that we would not have experienced otherwise. We have received Holy Communion “European style” (no kneeling after the Lamb of God, standing throughout) in of all places the mountains of West Virginia; stood among an overflow crowd of hundreds, if not thousands, attending a NASCAR race at a very small country parish church in the Poconos, named ironically enough Our Lady of Victory; prayed with the sounds of crashing water in the distance at Our Lady of Peace, an early 1800’s church built directly on a hill overlooking Niagara Falls; and was even lucky enough to find a Catholic Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the very heart of Evangelical Protestantism, to celebrate Mass with a Hispanic community that was being served by an Irish priest from Dublin. We have so many wonderful memories of meeting our Sunday obligation on vacation that I could not possibly include them all here.
You can make your faith part of your travel plans by including religious destinations as part of your trip or making your entire vacation a pilgrimage. I know many people who have gone on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and every one of them said that it changed their faith forever. Many people travel to Europe for reasons other than visiting holy sites, but the destinations that often leave the greatest impression upon them include the Vatican, Marian apparition sites like Lourdes and Fatima, and great churches and cathedrals like Chartres, Notre Dame, and Mont St. Michel.
But that does not mean that you have to travel great distances and incur huge expenses to have Old World religious experiences while on vacation. For example, if you would like to visit Lourdes but are unable to make the trip, there are many replica (in some cases exact replica) grottos shrines that you can visit throughout the United States, the national shrine in Euclid, Ohio; the shrine in Litchfield, Connecticut, the grottoes in the Bronx, New York, Belleville, Illinois, and the campus of the University of Notre Dame, and even the chapel at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C.
But wherever you are going on vacation there are shrines and other holy places that you can visit as you travel. The website http://www.catholicshrines.net is available to help you to make a pilgrimage a part of your vacation. My wife Karen and I always choose at least one holy place to visit when we go away and we are never disappointed.
But whatever we do this summer, we should make some time to rest in Jesus.
- Do I see vacation as a time to get away from everything, including my faith and Sunday obligation?
- Do I spend time on vacation resting in Jesus?