"Do We Have to Go to Mass on Summer Vacation?"

This past weekend, my family packed up our minivan and headed a few hours north for a weekend of camping, canoeing, and hanging out on the beautiful Lake Michigan coast. A simple Google search had revealed there was a Catholic parish less than ten minutes away from our campground. We planned to go to the 9:30 Sunday Mass... and then making breakfast and breaking down camp took about twice as long as we had expected. This should have come as no surprise. Thankfully, the parish also had an 11:30 Mass, so we went to that before spending the afternoon at the beach. Crisis averted!

To their credit, none of our kids actually uttered the question, "Do we have to go to Mass on summer vacation?" That said, we were all tired after a long Saturday on the river, the kids were not on their best behavior, and it undoubtedly would have been more convenient to take it easy Sunday morning, lounge around camp, skip Mass, and head straight to the beach instead. So why bother going to Mass on summer vacation?

I know of two ways to answer that question. The first is that it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on purpose unless you have a serious reason. Framed more positively, the Mass is the source and summit of the Christian life. Going to Mass at least on Sundays keeps us connected to Christ and the Church. When we skip Mass, we deliberately cut ourselves off from God and his people. Another hour at the beach isn't worth spiritual death.

My second answer is more subjective: Mass can be a real moment of grace on a trip. Taking a break from fun and sun to go to church allowed us to quiet our hearts and minds and recenter ourselves on our relationship with Jesus. It showed our kids what's truly important and helped bring Christ's peace into our family. God spoke directly to us through the scriptures and homily—my wife said, "This is where I was supposed to be." Jesus came to be with us in the Eucharist. And we got to experience a part of the universal Church that's different from our home parish—and beautiful and historically interesting to boot. Now, I'm not romanticizing going to Mass with three kids in vacation mode—it's no walk on the beach. But it was well worth the time.

So go to Mass when you're on vacation this summer! And if you need resources to help your family participate in the Mass, check outGrowing Families Through the Mass from LANE.

Enjoy your summer!

— Cory Lakatos, LANE Director of Communications