My husband loves to attend new churches while on holidays. I do too…now. Things were much different when we travelled with five energetic children in tow. Sunday mass was enough of a challenge in the familiar surroundings of our home parish. In a new church, I couldn’t relax until I had mapped out a quick exit to the basement or the crying room. And, I definitely had to locate the washrooms for the quick dash with the potty trainer of the moment. A large church offered some anonymity. With our crew, it was hard to slip in to the pews of a small, half empty church without all eyes turning towards us.
On our recent trip to Ottawa, our friends arranged for us all to attend Sunday mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Notre Dame. Its beauty befits our capital city, and the grandeur contrasts to the simplicity of our rural church. The liturgy itself was a musical treat, thanks to the pipe organ and soaring voices of the cathedral choir. There was a nice balance between songs for the full congregation, and exquisite choral pieces to inspire moments of prayer. And when the organ belted out for all to sing, it was easy to raise your voice with no worries of sour notes. You were lifted up by the glorious sound, and could almost believe that you, too, sounded this good!
When on holidays, you don’t have to take a holiday from Sunday mass. For those who are actively involved in their home parish, being a tourist is an opportunity to sit back and enter into the worship space without the temporal worries of liturgical preparations. And if you really want a taste of the local color and culture of a place, enter into a church and join a community in prayer.