I travel a fair amount for work. Perhaps you are like me. One of my favorite unofficial games is “Find the Catholic Church.” If you want to get an idea for the universality of the Church, notice how you can’t go far in any direction without running into one.
One of the really cool things about Catholicism is that we are Universal. The Mass in New York is the same as the Mass in Los Angeles. The Mass in Los Angeles is the same as the Mass in London.
I had that opportunity in Pennsylvania while my wife took a test. It was a foggy Monday morning and I was tired. I had my plans set to go back to the hotel and go to sleep. After all, I had just completed a grueling 12 hour travel day.
We drove to the test site and I dropped her off. I pulled out of the parking lot, looked to the left, and there was a Catholic Church. I was starting to turn right and immediately cut back left. It was 7:15am. Morning Mass?
I parked and went in. Yes, Mass at 8:00am. I grabbed my rosary and picked a pew. For 35 minutes it was just the Priest and I. We sat there, praying.
The Church was beautiful. Although it was only built 60 years ago, it was an ornately decorated ethnic (I believe Polish) Parish. It was so quiet, so serene.
By the time that Mass had started, the attendance had swelled to 7. I was by far the youngest person there. I was also sitting closest to the front. It was essentially a test to figure out how well I knew the new translation.
There was something very special about that Mass. First, of course, I felt cared for as a traveler. Cared for in that I felt that I had a home so far from my own.
The intimate setting was unlike anything I have ever experienced. It was like my Wedding Mass. I was in the front, it was as if it was just the Priest and I.
There is a depth of prayer that comes from that setting. There is a feeling that, through the ministry of the Church, the Church is truly there to serve the individual, as well as the community.
I was grateful to make one of the two daily Masses that happen during the week at this Parish. I was grateful to have the opportunity to intercede for my wife while she took an exam no more than 300 yards away. I was grateful to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for taking care of a traveling pilgrim.