It's time for another installment in our "Raising Your Kids [The Catholic Way]" series! Click here to read parts 1-4!
Those of you who follow us over on Instagram know that our family just returned from a long trip. We were invited along on a trip to the beach with lots of lovely extended family...how could we refuse!!! (Rule #1 of graduate student life: If someone offers to pay for you to go on vacation with them, say YES!) I'll share some more pictures from our trip later in the week, but for now I wanted to talk about a particular aspect of our trip that I treasured - going to Mass.
Andrew and I both grew up in families that always went to Mass on vacation. I have so many memories of vacation Masses - a random Sunday at a parish in Georgia, another Mass in Ohio, going to countless churches in Michigan, etc. etc. From the get-go our little family has been the same. Unbeknownst to him, the bed and breakfast that Andrew booked for our honeymoon was literally right next door to an absolutely beautiful Catholic church!!! As icing on the cake, it turned out that they had daily Mass every day around lunchtime...and did I mention it was next door to where we were staying?! I was one happy bride. :-)
But there's something so special about visiting other parishes, especially when on vacation. It is a reminder that the Church is, indeed, universal!
(I don't have any pictures from the church we went to for the Saturday Vigil on vacation, so instead I'll share with you some of the pictures of the pretty little church where Maria and I went for a Mass date one morning last week!)
Being out of town with family is kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand, there is usually time for relaxing...but on the other hand, every moment is just so precious and you want to squeeze in as much time together as possible!! Mass is typically not a convenient activity (the closest daily Mass from the place we were staying at by the beach was about a 40 minute drive) but it is well worth the trip*. It is easy, I think, to get stuck in the world of your parish. It is easy to feel like the parish you go to week after week (or day after day) is the church. But it's not!
I mean...it is the Church, but not in her entirety. It's not until you start visiting other parishes that you realize just how connected we all are in the body of Christ. I personally struggle sometimes with the differences in liturgical style at different parishes (and I know I'm not alone in that) but despite those differences - it's still the Church. Jesus is still there in the tabernacle, every time. And I am still united to everyone else in the assembly when I receive the Eucharist.
I love this statue so much. Any parent of an older baby knows this gesture all too well. "No, Jesus, we are NOT going to grab the world right now. Mkay?"
I think it's easy to get into the "Do I have to go to Mass?" mentality while out of town and forget that going to Mass in different parts of the country/world is a unique opportunity. You can talk to your children about the beauty and the bigness of the Church until you're blue in the face...or you can just take them to a random church in a random city in northern North Carolina for a Saturday Vigil Mass and let them experience how similar it is to their own parish!
That lesson - the lesson of the universality of the Church - is not one that I remember my parents lecturing me about. Rather, we visited churches and monasteries around the country on our trips...and I was able to experience it. (Which, in turn, naturally brought up questions and stirred conversation.) Those memories are ones that are deeply imprinted for me, along with the realization that the Church is so much bigger than myself and my liturgical preferences and favorite pew on the middle left-hand side of church. After all, Christ did ask His Apostles to preach the Gospel to all the ends of the earth...and it's amazing how much a Mass on vacation can drive home the reality of that call.
And now for what we wore yesterday!!! We got home late Saturday night after an entire day of driving, so we just walked to the church up the road from us. The girls look as dazed as they probably feel. What little troopers!!!
*I'm taking it for granted that you're all smarties, well-versed in your catechism, and you know that we're obligated to attend Mass every Sunday barring serious illness or some other actually physical impossibility (not inconvenience). As a favorite priest of mine used to tease, "Don't make the baby Jesus cry!"