Dear Husband and I are home from 10 days in Ireland. It was amazing. We saw the most beautiful land, managed not to hit any sheep, and ate a lot of great food (and drink!)
We had the opportunity to attend Mass twice. The first time was rather sad. It was a small village church, and the Sunday morning Mass. While it was well-attended by people of all ages, it was perfunctory at best. Thirty minutes start to finish, no music. The responses were said so fast we couldn't keep up. It was as if everyone was there to put in there time, not to worship. How very sad for a place where we Catholics fought so hard for our Faith.
Our next experience was the Sunday Vigil Mass at St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin. The setting could not have been more beautiful. The cantor was spectacular, and a treasure of a pipe organ provided beautiful accompaniment. The priest gave a solid homily, and while the congregation tended to the elderly, it was worshipful and much more inspiring.
The Pro-Cathedral also played a role in the Easter Uprising of 1916. As Dublin burned and the streets were filled with battle, the priests held open the doors of the church as a place of refuge and for care of the wounded and dying. It was feared that the church would burn, but it did not, and the priests were able to feed the hungry, shelter those who'd lost their homes and tend to those fighting - regardless of which side they were on.
Cherish your church - both your parish and the Universal Church. When you travel, don't hesitate to attend Mass. Wherever you find yourself, you are at home in the Catholic Church. Give your children the gift of history and culture and prayer wherever you find yourselves. It is always good to be in the familiar, but it is a treasure to pray with strangers and sojourners, wherever we may be.