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?