Summer Vacation and Mass
Summer is the traditional time to go on vacation and “get away from it all” – whether that means spending time at the beach, going hiking in the glories of creation, visiting a new city, or seeing wondrous sites. While it is good to take a vacation from the over-busyness of work, study, and what Pope Francis calls the “rat race” in his exhortation on attaining to a holy life (Gaudete et Exsultate, 29), the one thing we would be unwise to “get away from” when we travel is the Mass and the pursuit of holiness and virtue.
The Eucharist, as the source and summit of the Christian life (Lumen Gentium, 11; CCC 1324), is both the source of our strength and the earthly manifestation of our heavenly goal. It is food for the journey, as well as the closest we can be to heaven on this earth. Pope Benedict XVI spoke beautifully of this Blessed Sacrament, saying that in the Eucharist, “heaven comes down to earth, the tomorrow of God descends into the present and it is as if time remains embraced by divine eternity.”
Giving us his Body and Blood as our spiritual nourishment in the Mass, Christ stoops down from heaven to join us in our weary earthly wanderings and in our restful leisure time. It is no wonder that we call this Holy Communion “Eucharist,” which is derived from the Greek word eucharistian, meaning “giving thanks,” especially to God.
How can we possibly, and why would we want to, “take a vacation” from this wondrous encounter which truly rejuvenates us in a way that nothing else in this world can, and which elevates us to a more magnificent place than we could ever hope to enjoy on earth? And the astounding thing is that it is available at the nearest church wherever we go.
Apps and websites such as masstimes.org make finding a Catholic Church, Mass times and Confession opportunities convenient and easy. You simply enter the city, state, or zip code you are visiting. You may even be inspired to plan your vacations to see the breathtaking beauty, historical significance, and peaceful grounds of Catholic churches throughout our country and world.
Let us use our vacation time, then, with the sacrament of the Eucharist to recharge and invigorate ourselves for the work and the journey ahead, “to recover the personal space needed to carry on a heartfelt dialogue with God” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 29). Visiting these holy sites and attending Mass there may just become the best part of your vacation. It certainly will be the most important part.