Roaming Catholic: Mass and Vacation

by Stephanie Feducia Stanley

I am a roaming Catholic. Most people think of “roaming Catholics” with a smirk, meaning someone who is Catholic and attends Mass regularly, but who does not belong to a parish. I am not one of those.

That being said, I do LOVE to travel. For pilgrimage, or for pleasure, memories made together on the road are dear to my heart. We often go to Orlando, FL and have frequented Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and other adventures that have made their way into the area. We leave on the Friday before our week away and arrive in Kissimmee, FL, on Saturday afternoon. After check in, we leave again. The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe is our destination.

Many people who are traveling do not always attend Mass. Their missed obligation is confessed or shrugged away, “We’re out of town, God doesn’t mind…” Or does He?

On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass; they are also to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord’s Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body. 1. The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day. (Canon 1247-1248)

Anyone who knows my dad understands that missing Mass on a Sunday is out of the question. It simply isn’t done. He searched for a church in the yellow pages to fulfill our family’s obligation. And what a church we found in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, It is simply breathtaking and its history is amazing, answering the needs of those who flock to Orlando for entertainment and needing their Sunday Obligation met. The place was built with donations from the faithful and is growing to this day. With gorgeous grounds, including a Rosary garden, the place is a destination for Catholics.

Each Mass begins with a greeting and the priest always asks where everyone is from. The Catholic Church is truly universal! We’ve seen worshippers from all walks of life attend Mass at this sacred place. We’ve seen people come in dressed in their Sunday best and some in their theme park attire, complete with fanny packs and Mickey ears. We attend the Saturday Vigil Mass, thanking God for a safe journey and with gratitude for the fun we are about to have.

Speaking of gratitude, there was one family trip that I will never forget. My cousin and I found a European cruise when she was beginning college and planned to save up for four years to go. We were to go to Barcelona, Capri, Naples, Rome, Florence, Monte Carlo, Nice and Avignon. Such a trip was highly anticipated and even though my husband and I had gotten married and had a delightful honeymoon, he happily joined the plans. Our godmother came with us and, as a surprise for my cousin, upgraded their two tickets to first class.

Trouble struck the minute we arrived at the airport. Our arrival in Barcelona was to be a day before the ship set sail from its port, and we felt that this was a clever way for us to try and shake off the jet lag. What we didn’t know was that the plane that was to carry us to Atlanta’s International airport was late. If we were very lucky, we would get to Atlanta JUST in time to run through the airport and reach our flight to Barcelona.

The flight from Shreveport to Atlanta was excruciating. We eagerly awaited our arrival with cold sweat on our palms. Upon our arrival, we had to run to the OPPOSITE end of the airport. In the confusion two of our party were separated and went to the wrong terminal. Our frantic calls to their cell phones went unanswered. We actually boarded the plane without them.

Saying as many Hail Marys under our breath as one can in the allowed time, we were relieved to see their faces. It seemed that the plane couldn’t leave because there was some first class luggage that was to be loaded onto the plane. My aunt’s and cousin’s luggage as it turns out, and because they were first class, our luggage was loaded as well. Whew!

When we toured Barcelona the next morning, we visited the Cathedral. It was amazing, and there was a Vigil Mass that afternoon. Because the Church is truly universal, we could follow the order of the Mass. It was amazing to hear it in another language, and it was in Catalonian, not Spanish. We could still worship as we knew all the times to respond. We were eternally grateful for arriving safely and praised God for His help on our journey. •

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