I’ve been to a lot of Masses since I reverted. During that time, I also had about a 6 month period where I was taking grad school classes in a different city and only came home on weekends. This made getting to Mass an interesting challenge, to say the least. During that time, whenever somebody asked me which parish I attended, I replied that I was “church-hopping.”
The value of a solid faith community cannot be underestimated, and I am in no way encouraging you all to stop attending your regular parishes and look for new ones! However, if you travel a lot, or have an irregular work schedule, or just moved to a new city, this post is for you.
Step 1: Check out MassTimes.org. This is a huge time-saver. Before I discovered this site, I used to just Google “Catholic churches in ____” and then try to approximate the distance from wherever I was to the churches. MassTimes.org has maps that show you where the churches are in relation to the address you entered and in addition to listing the time of the Mass, will tell you what language it’s in. And it provides links to the parish websites, which we’ll use in a moment.
Step 2: Consider your needs. Do you have a Sunday afternoon flight to catch? The 11 AM Latin Mass is probably not a good idea. Are you on vacation with a bunch of little ones and looking for a noise-tolerant atmosphere? If yes, the Sunday AM (or Saturday PM) Masses at suburban parishes are a good option. Are you on vacation without the little ones and hoping for some peace and quiet? Check out Newman centers, particularly the Sunday evening Masses they offer – you’d be surprised at how peaceful they can be. (Conversely, Sunday evening Masses at suburban parishes tend to have more of the new hymns that Baby Boomers think are awesome and people of all ages acting like fools.)
Step 3: Visit the parish’s website. This will give you an idea of what parish life is like generally and what sort of congregation they have. It may also give you a more detailed description of the various Masses and what to expect. If there’s a copy of the bulletin, skim over it. Hopefully, the site also has photos of the actual sanctuary, which are a big help for logistical questions like “Is there a cry room?” ”Where’s the wheelchair ramp?”
Step 4: Get to Mass! (I did say this post was for dummies.) And remember what your mama taught you about how to behave in church. Pro tip: leave your phone in the glove box. You don’t want to be That Person.