My job as an equine bodyworker leads me to beautiful horses, people, barns, and locations all across the western United States. The Catholic faith is central to my life, so I get pretty creative when it comes to living out my faith on the road. I thrive on seeing new sights every day, while some of my Catholic counterparts prefer to be grounded in one place. Though I have my roots, I am on the move for the better part of 250 days per year, but the one constant in my life is the immovable and unchanging Catholic Church. The most beautiful part of my Catholic faith is that it is universal, ancient, and it is where I can call home no matter where I am on earth. Of course, “the world is my ship and not my home,” but the Church is the best navigator for the next life.
“The world is thy ship and not thy home.”
–Saint Therese of Lisieux
Below are a few ideas that I have found helpful to keeping the faith in my life on the road. Whether you are also a sort of a wanderlust like myself, or taking a family trip, I hope these suggestions will open new paths of faith for you
1. Keep a prayer routine. Even if your daily schedule is as changeable as mine, it does help to keep some sort of consistency. For me, this looks like a morning offering, followed by a rosary whenever I get in the car, prayers from the heart and mental prayers throughout the day, and prayers of thanks before bed.
2. Find a mass! If you are on the road for a week or more, your trip will include a Sunday of obligation. The sacrifice of the mass is the source and summit of our faith. We alone have the privilege of seeing and receiving Our Lord in the flesh, and I have found that it is a delightful experience to attend mass in all sorts of different places.
It took my poor priest at home (shoutout to Father Bryce) a while to understand my lifestyle. After three weeks in a row during the summer of not attending mass at home, he hit me with a good-natured, “Are you alive?” text message. Of course, I was attending mass wherever I happened to be at the time (Colorado, Illinois, Montana, etc.). He then began to understand that I travel… a lot. It’s a beautiful fact of our faith that no matter where one goes, anywhere in the world, it’s the same readings, same faith, same Jesus Christ on the altar.
Depending on the season, I may even pop in for a daily mass wherever I am. This has been a beautiful addition to my worship throughout the winter months (my slow time), being able to attend three masses a week in some cases.
Even better, Find a Reverent Mass or Find Latin Mass. There is nothing better than preserving the tradition of our Church in the forms which have existed since the beginning. In these masses, you will experience the true reverence and worship that Our Lord so deserves. My heart soars when attending a reverent mass!
3. Plan your weekend around mass. Admittedly, I have used rodeos and business for excuses to miss mass in the past. But one priest called me out in the best way during confession: “You know what time mass is every weekend. Plan your weekend around that,” he said. I realized that if Catholics in war-torn countries, Catholics that face martyrdom in Muslim countries, and Catholics that travel hours to find a mass can do it, I had no excuses at all.
There are usually many options for attending mass with Saturday vigils and various times on Sunday. I also try not to work on Sundays, if possible. The Lord commanded us to rest on the Sabbath, and yet it can be the most difficult commandment for us all to follow. When entering rodeos, I look up mass times and try to enter around them. Sometimes, though, it simply doesn’t work: I may get a different draw than I asked for, I may be unable to find a mass time that works in a rural area, or an emergency happens on the ranch or on the road. In this instance, I have done all I can to honor my Sunday obligation and I can have a clear conscience. We are asked to make a decent effort to go to mass on Sunday, but our Lord is forgiving and understanding. Yet, we must remember that it is a grave sin to make no effort at all.
4. Pray the Rosary. If you struggle saying the rosary in everyday life, I urge you to give it a try on the road. The time will pass anyway, and no one ever regrets praying the rosary on their deathbed. I used to struggle with it, too, but now I love passing the miles with prayer.
I carry a beautiful rosary in my pocket or in my car so that I am always tempted to pray it. Usually, I begin my morning commute by praying the rosary–that way, I’ve already gotten it done for the day and don’t have to worry about procrastinating until I am laying in bed.
There are also hundreds of different versions of the rosary to follow along with on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Hallow, etc. I also suggest trying the scriptural rosary if you have not before!
5. Make an Impromptu (or planned) Pilgrimage. This is one of my favorite activities to do on the road. There are incredible shrines, cathedrals, statues, and destinations all over the United States. A few of my favorites are the Shrine of St. Joseph in Yarnell, AZ; Our Lady of the Prairie in Hermosa, SD; St. Alphonsus of Liguori Basilica in Baltimore, MD. The links below might provide you with a few ideas, as well!
Catholic Travel Guide
6. Listen to holy music. I like to listen to secular music as much as the next person, but I also crave the beauty of holy sounds in my ears more than ever before. All of the music services mentioned before (and more) feature thousands of Catholic hymns. My favorite Catholic music to listen to is Gregorian chant, known as the “sound of silence.” It elevates the soul to ponder Heaven while on earth. It’s an amazing way to be drawn to truth, beauty, and goodness, no matter where you are.
7. Listen to Catholic podcasts. This is my most recent favorite way to pass the time while driving. It’s amazing how listening to spiritual conversations between philosophers, writers, theologians, and everyday Catholics can force oneself to cultivate a deeper understanding and faith–without ever leaving the car. Through podcasts, I have been introduced to a community of like-minded and faithful people, to new and profound spiritual books, and to folks I don’t even know who are praying for me. Check out my favorites below for a good dose of hope, wisdom, and love.
- Pints with Aquinas: With a charming Australian accent, Matt Fradd brings the foremost Catholic minds to his audience with fantastic long form discussions.
- A Guy in the Pew: Relatively new, this recovered cocaine addict, father and husband invites wonderful people onto his show to discuss souls, hearts, and the Church.
- Ascension Presents: categories for every age group and vocation.
- Father Mike Schmitz / Bible in a Year: He deserves his own bullet point, and needs no introduction.
- Theology of the Body: The refreshing explanations of our God-given sexuality in a world that exploits it.
- Servants HM Films: Wonderful Irish priests who get to the nitty-gritty of human nature and the power of hope and redemption.
- Brian Holdsworth: A great commentator on the state of the Church.
- The Catholic Gentleman: Complete with several books, Sam Guzman and friends present topics that are relevant to Catholic masculinity, so desperately needed in our world.
- There are so many more!
8. Better yet, be silent. This may be incredibly challenging for some people. It was for me when I first attempted it after being inspired by Cardinal Sarah’s book, The Power of Silence. Yet, God is not found in the din and noise that the secular world tries to increase in us. In order to hear Him, we must quiet our worlds and our hearts. Let your mind catch up with itself. Pray about what is beneath the surface. Listen for the reply. A road trip spent visiting with God himself and listening to Him work in your heart is time very well spent.
9. Don’t forget the Sign of the Cross. The Sign of the Cross is a prayer itself, one that outwardly shows faith, which is especially handy when battling demons or evil of any kind. It is the beginning and end to all prayer. We are obliged to make the Sign of the Cross on several occasions:
- When passing cemeteries. Cemeteries are a reminder of death and of the souls that are in need of our prayers. I make the Sign of the Cross and say a short prayer: “Jesus and Mary, I love you. Save souls.”
- When passing Catholic churches. By making the Sign of the Cross, we remember that Our Lord is housed inside, present in the most holy Eucharist.
- When passing an accident or an emergency personnel. Making the Sign of the Cross and asking for the prayers of Mary or St. Michael is a wonderful way of caring for people that may be hurt or in mortal danger. I often pray for a peaceful (not sudden) death for all involved, that all souls would have time to seek God at the end of life.
10. Ask for a few saints to accompany you as you travel.
- St. Christopher: I often ask for St. Christopher’s prayers for safety, as he is the patron saint of travelers.
- St. Michael: He is also someone I ask for prayers from regularly, traveling or not (he’s a beast at keeping the devil at bay).
- St. Joseph: As he is the patron saint of departed souls, I ask for a peaceful death for myself and all of my loved ones.
11. Stop for Adoration. On rare occasions, I find that I have some spare time when traveling, and I often see if a nearby church is open for adoration. I’ll often feel a strong tug towards a church when the Lord wants me to come to Him. To bring our hearts and minds before His true presence in the tabernacle brings the soul unspeakable peace and graces. We are never ignored if we come to Him here.
“Know also that you will probably gain more by praying fifteen minutes before the Blessed Sacrament than by all the other spiritual exercises of the day. True, Our Lord hears our prayers anywhere, for He has made the promise, ‘Ask, and you shall receive,’ but He has revealed to His servants that those who visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament will obtain a more abundant measure of grace.”
–Saint Alphonsus Liguori
12. Use Catholic Apps. When you get to your destination, there are several Catholic apps that are very handy for continuing with any devotions, finding inspiration, or feeling more connected to Christ, even while away from home.
- Hallow: This is the latest, wonderful Catholic app that helps you to pray. I especially love the Gregorian chants and chant rosary, but there are hundreds of prayers led by beautiful voices, bedtime Bible stories, a mental health section, and so much more.
- Laudate: There is so much packed within this app that I discover something new all the time. My favorite sections are Saints of the Day and Daily Readings.
- Catholic Bible: We should all be reading it more, right?
- Magnificat: Beautiful daily writings from contributors, saint of the day, and daily readings.
- Pray: Novenas with reminders–very helpful!
I hope that some of these helpful tips resonate with you, and that you are able to maintain and deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ, even on the road. Remember, we are all practicing Catholics, and we should all keep practicing until we get it right! God bless!