When I was a young seminarian, the rector, before dismissing us for our summer break, would admonish us: remember, guys, there’s no vacation from a vocation. This was certainly wise advice — we were after all still seminarians even when away from the structured environment of the seminary with its fixed times for prayer and daily Mass. And I think this is wise counsel to all of us Catholics even as we plan for vacations that take us away from our homes and parishes. There can be no vacation from our fundamental Christian vocation to holiness.
Fidelity to weekly Mass attendance is inextricably linked to that vocation.
When I was bishop in Central Florida, I was edified by those Catholics who came to the many attractions of that area and sought out Sunday Mass even though they were far from their homes. The Basilica Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, still welcomes thousands of such visitors each week. The priests of the Shrine provide an important service to these vacationers in making the Sacrament of Penance readily available to them and providing them the opportunity of participation in Sunday Mass. (And, when I had the occasion to celebrate Mass there, I often met many of you from South Florida at Sunday Mass.)
While there might not be a Shrine Church like Mary, Queen of the Universe, at our particular vacation destination, we too must make every effort to make sure that we attend Mass on Sunday. Participation in the Sunday Eucharist is an obligation for every practicing Catholic — and vacation does not dispense us from this weekly encounter with Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — for it is only through these sacramental encounters with the Lord that we can grow in the grace necessary to be faithful to our baptismal vocation to holiness.
Finding a place to attend Mass while far from home may often not be easy — but with the help of some advance planning, we can usually find one wherever we may go. The website www.Masstimes.org has a listing of Mass schedules in parishes throughout the United States. Also, most tourist friendly places readily offer information as to the location of the nearest Catholic Church.
As Catholics we belong to more than just our parish — we are members of a universal Church and therefore we are never strangers when we meet with other Catholics to celebrate the great Mystery of our Faith which is the Holy Mass. Vacations are a time of rest — a time to recharge our batteries so to speak. But as we take advantage of our vacation days to spend time with our loved ones and to rest from the everyday demands and routines of work, let us not neglect to also “rest in the Lord” on the day in which we commemorate his love for us in the Sunday Eucharist.
If we are serious about our Christian commitment, we cannot neglect to recharge our spiritual batteries in the central act of our worship, the source and summit of all Christian life: the Mass. There can never be a vacation from our vocation.