Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 17, 2017
By Father Peter Richards
“I’ll be away for the weekend and I don’t know if I can’t get to (Saturday night) Sunday Mass?” I have gotten this question many times over the years. I am blessed to get this question because it tells me the questioner knows the importance of going to Mass on the Lord’s Day, Sunday. I also know that these folks like to go to Mass and really miss it when they can’t go.
It is the Christian Sabbath established by Jesus’ resurrection and the object of the 3rd commandment (in my next article, I will consider why Sunday is so important and why Saturday evening Mass works, too).
First of all, if one hasn’t already, I recommend checking the internet for Mass times in the area you will be. You may not find anything on the internet, but you can ask around once you get there. Here, I will interject a story about a friend that has taken me duck hunting in North Dakota. On one trip, he had gone ahead of me and some others over the weekend. He ended up going to Sunday Mass at a small rural Catholic Church. At the beginning of Mass, in front of the whole congregation (about 25 people), the priest asked him to do the readings. He said, “yes”, and did. Afterwards, one of the congregants, who owned and operated a local farm, came to talk to him and offered him to hunt on his land! We shot a lot of ducks off of his land. There was more than spiritual rewards for thinking ahead for a time and place to go to Mass. Fruits of the number one Stewardship
Commitment of Time!
Next, ask those with whom you are traveling to give you time to go to Mass – and invite them to go with you! Countless Catholics who make arrangements to go to Mass away from home, really enjoy going to Mass at other places. They tell me that even if it is in another language, they can still follow along and pray. They are united with their family and home parishioners through Jesus even though far away. If you can’t make it, for a “serious reason”, then I have some other recommendations for your plans. One man told me he was traveling in the Deep South and there wasn’t a Catholic Church for a hundred miles. So, he went to a Baptist service! It was very interesting what they had to say about Catholics!
The use of the phrase “serious reason” is purposely vague. There is no list anywhere of “serious reason (s)” for missing the Sunday Holy Day Mass. When there is a conflict, each person has to decide whether the conflicting reason is “serious” or not. Given the “times” and the culture, there tends to be general rules that help to keep the Lord and the Holy Eucharist number one. If you are having a hard time deciding, then it is always a good idea to “seek wise counsel” (as the Scripture says).
So, you have decided the reason to miss Mass is serious. I recommend at least taking the Sunday readings along with you, taking some quiet time to read them, intercede with the Lord for some things and people, say an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and the spiritual Communion prayer. If you are with others who will pray with you, then pray together. All of these things can be found online or on smartphone apps. Personally, I really don’t like giving a “dispensation”. Besides, I don’t even know if I have the authority to do that.
There are also publications, like the “Magnificat” that has all the prayers of the Mass, plus the readings, reflections, and other prayers. The Roman Missal has a small version that costs about $70 and has every set of readings for every day of the year, plus all the Mass prayers of the Mass and many other prayers.
So, if you will be away for the weekend, you can still praise the Lord and be nourished by His love and grace even though far away.
God bless you and have a great week! Fr. Richards