sharing experiences of attending mass on vacation

Anthony Lehmann, a friend of this blog shared the following ‘holy leisure’ experience of Mass attendance during his family’s summer vacation. Sadly, it was not a very holy experience…

My wife, my 16 year old daughter and two of her friends and myself spent 8 days in Colorado, close to Rocky Mountain National Park. We attended mass in Grandby, Colorado August 12. We sensed this would be different as we entered the front row pew where a woman was wearing a long mantilla.There were four altar boys(no girls found among them) in their black cassock and white surplus. Another sign perhaps to turn and flee before it was too late? The young priest chanted many prayers in English. The Holy, Holy, the Acclamation, Great Amen and Lamb of God were all sung in Latin. Clearly he embraced the New Roman Missal in a big way….read more

Hubby and I didn’t always agree on Sunday Mass attendance during our holidays. I cringed at the extra effort of searching for a church, getting our rag-tag crew of five kids looking decent, and trying to keep them quiet in unfamiliar surroundings. (Why couldn’t ushers do a flight attendant style of announcement at the beginning of mass….the nearest exists are here, here, and here…?!) After a lot of grumbling and complaining, I gave in to my faithful husband. Sometimes the experience was worth the effort. Sometimes not. If nothing else, we tried to model to the children that this is ‘what we do’ as Catholics.

Today, sans enfants, we still don’t always agree an Mass attendance during holidays. Thankfully, my man continues to try and keep me on the straight and narrow. (A tough job, but someone has to do it.)

Attending Mass during travels gives us an opportunity to experience different liturgies, homilies and parish styles. If the travels take us far from home, the cultural diversity can be a wonderful experience. My favorite ‘travel Masses’ were in Hawai’i and Kenya.

A priest friend loves attending Mass during his frequent travels, and relishes the opportunity to pray with the community from the pews.

As young adults, we often spent weekend retreats at a secluded cabin on the lake owned by our friends the Marianist brothers. Hubby has fond memories of paddling in a canoe to a tiny, remote community with one of the priests to assist him in Mass. There was no need to dress up in Sunday best.

I can relate to Anthony’s story. You never know what you will find when you walk through unfamiliar church doors. Sometimes, a wonderful surprise awaits you; a warm and welcoming community, glorious singing and a nourishing homily. Sometimes it can be a ho-hum, boring experience. But, it is one thing when a Mass is simply not spiritually uplifting. It is another when the experience leaves you angry.

I would love to hear your own vacation Mass stories. What church experiences have you had on your recent travels?

7 thoughts on “sharing experiences of attending mass on vacation

  1. Great places to worship: Orlando mass at the Shrine of Mary between Convention Center & Disney world: Then the Holy Land Experience east on interstate: Las Vegas at the Catholic shrine close to MGM Grand. These are not parishes & are free from orthoxy.

  2. Anthony, say no more. Our daughter and her family live in Aurora CO. Chris is outraged at the happenings in Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Denver. She knows how left wing the Diocese is, but doesn’t seem to suffer at Mass too much because of the diversity of her parish its pastor.

    What would the priests have doen without the Olympics? My husband said the pastor talked about them the Sunday before last and went on aobut things that had no bearing on the readings. I have so many friends who could give homiies that would glue you to your seat. When I went to my yoga class yesterday (Sunday) the teacher started off talking about GRACE and the treasure it is in our lives. By the way, she is Jewish and attends Temple regularly.

    Hangout here with Isabella and you will be spiritually refreshed.

    NAMASTE (The God in me bows to the God in you)…Chris

    • The dialogue keeps us all spiritually refreshed! BTW, lack of dialogue is what I struggle with the most when a homily becomes difficult to listen to. Instead we sit, squirm, fume, or just up and walk out like Anthony’s wife did. Actually, walking out makes quite the statement. I’ve done it a few times in the past when I could take no more…sigh….

      • The urge to respond to the priest, to ask questions and clarifications was really strong at that little church in Colorado. 🙂

  3. I’ve been to the Orland Shrine of Mary. Not too bad. One of my favorite experiences was in Rochester, Minnesota. The newer church was filled with FAMILIES with CHILDREN and every other age group. It was sort of Church in the Round. The Altar at the center. The priest did a wonderful job of presiding, turning to the people to his right, left, in front and behind him. The homily was excellent. It was snowing heavily. Greeters were there to meet us. People were shoveling snow to clear paths. In all, a great spirited feeling.

    Our parish has a sister parish in Port de Paix, Haiti. I have had the opportunity to visit a few times. Each time we go to celebrate the feast day of their patron saint, St. Monfort of France. The liturgy is a 3 hour affair, with much singing (no printed music, no money for books) with dances at offertory, sometimes portraying the evils in society, and also offering thanks for the fruits, vegetables and food that make their way into the celebration. All week they are cleaning the church, doing touch up painting, practicing, planning. There is an excitement in the parish compound that is amazing. Packed tightly into pews, no air conditioning and sometimes a big fan or two running, everyone dressed in their finest. That is a celebration of worship, praise and thanksgiving. These people have so little, but they know how to celebrate God among us.

    Anthony Lehmann

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