It is now the heart of the winter. I, for one, enjoy the winter. I find the snow and the cold exciting, I enjoy getting out to ice skate and play hockey, I like the beauty of a soft snowfall, I get excited when my nostrils freeze together (well, maybe not that part). However, I realize that there are those who do not enjoy winter as much as I do, and thus they like to escape to warmer climates. Many couples will get away for a few months and there are families that travel during spring break. As a society, we travel quite a bit.
One temptation that can occur when we travel is to forget about the importance of prayer. Because we are out of our usual setting or away from our routines, we can be tempted to miss the prayer that needs to be a part of our lives, even when we are away from our homes.
The reality is that God is everywhere and God’s love is everywhere for us. We need to respond to that love in prayer. So here are a few suggestions for continuing to pray while you travel.
First, remember that traveling with others is a great time to pray together. We often pray alone, but when we are traveling, we typically travel with others. This is a great time to practice praying with other people. Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am” (Matt 18:20). We have been designed to pray together. It can be a simple prayer each morning as your start your day or a prayer to St. Christopher for safe travelers (he is the patron Saint of travellers). Regardless of how you do it, it is good to pray together.
Second, schedule time for mass. Vacation from work is not a vacation from God or His call for us to attend mass. It is essential for us as Catholics to attend mass every Sunday and Holy Day of obligation. So when you travel, look up the local Catholic churches and their mass times. If you do not know how to find the parishes, you are in luck: www.masstimes.org is an incredible website that will help you find masses using the zip code or address. If you use your cell phone, you need only push the button and it will use the GPS to find your location and the closest churches and their mass times.
Finally, bring your rosary. I travel with my rosary and it is a beautiful simple prayer that you carry in your pocket. It has even been cleared by TSA on all of my air travels. When you are on the plane, put away your electronics for just a few minutes and pray the rosary. If you have forgotten your rosary, good news: God gave you ten fingers and you pray the rosary that way! The rosary is the traveling prayer. It is also a good reminder to pray when you keep it in your pocket. You may put your hand in your pocket looking for your keys and you feel your rosary: That might be God reminding you to pray that day.
People enjoy traveling and it is easier than ever for us to explore this amazing world that God has given to us. As we travel creation, let us not forget the Creator and make time for prayer.
Fr. Nels Gjengdahl