A few years ago I started a tradition of taking photos of the churches we visit when we travel. Usually this involves me lugging my camera case into the church and having Ray and the boys wait for me after Mass, unless we arrive super early, which is rare. Over the years my little ritual of snapping images of the altar, the statues, the fourth Station of the Cross (always the fourth), and the outside of the church–and later editing them and posting some of them here has made me realize something about our lives as Catholics.
(On this trip I decided not to lug my good camera to church and used my phone for pictures instead. Hence the less-than-ideal quality of the photos.)
If I asked you, “What is the most important thing you do every week?”, what would you say? Would it be getting up and going to work every morning, or nurturing your children? Making sure your family had food on the table and clothes to wear? What if the question was, “What is the most important thing you do on vacation, or on any given weekend?” Maybe you’d say spending time with your family, or even making sure everyone wore sunscreen. All these things are extremely important, there is no doubt about that, and certainly these are what would come to mind if anyone asked me. Some time ago, I wish I could say when, I realized that attending Mass is the most important thing we do. After that we can–and we must–go about the business of feeding our families and going to work. The Mass prepares us for the challenges of everyday life.
As Catholics we believe that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. It is Jesus Christ Himself, body, blood, soul, and divinity. That is why we are obligated to attend Sunday Mass unless we have a serious reason not to. When we are away from home, we make sure we attend Sunday Mass wherever we happen to be. I can think of at least two occasions when that meant going even though we hadn’t showered in a couple of days because we didn’t have access to one. No matter the purpose of the trip, Mass is the most important part of it. On our most recent trip to Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, race day began with Mass.
We had decided on the 9am Mass at the closest parish, which we had found via MassTimes.org. When we arrived, there was no one to be seen and the sign out front said that the first Mass was at 10:30. Thanks to good cell coverage, we were able to find another 9am Mass fairly close by at St. Benedict’s and arrived with little time to spare.
After my little photo shoot I was on my way out to meet my family (who were patiently waiting for me in the car), when the priest–who I couldn’t help but notice looked a little like George Burns, big round glasses and all–stopped me and asked if I was the lady who called the church to ask for directions. No, that wasn’t me, I replied; and I explained how we had tried going to one church only to find that there was no 9am Mass, and we had fortunately been able to find this one. He told me that parish had closed, and that St. Benedict’s had actually merged with another one, St. Dominic. All over the area, many of the once-vibrant parishes were closing and consolidating for various reasons, be it lack of attendance or funds or both. It kind of made me sad. After a while Ray and the boys walked over to see what the heck was taking me so long and joined the conversation. We chatted about the boys and how we were here because of the race. Father wished us well and we were on our way.
During Mass, as I always do when we’re going to a race, I prayed for the safety of the drivers, crew, and spectators. Later that day we would witness Justin Wilson’s fatal crash. His funeral was this week. Please pray for his family.
I hope you have all had a blessed weekend. I’ve been working on my daily routine in order to make more time for blogging as well as other more important things. I hope I see you again here soon. Have a great week!
(I snapped this right before the race. Justin Wilson is the tall one waving. Click here for information on how to help the Wilson family.)