featured image

We all make plans for summer vacations, Sherry Hayes-Peirce maintains, but how often do we think about our plans to get to heaven?

Summer is here, and many of us will travel near and far. Two weeks ago I was on vacation on Catalina Island and visited the local Catholic church there, St. Catherine of Alexandria. The priest, Fr. Danilo Guinto, gave a homily about how we are all making plans to travel over the summer. He noted that the visitors in the church had to make plans to take the ferry over to the island, book hotel rooms, and plan activities. Then he asked, “What are we doing to prepare for our trip to heaven?” Wow! The question was really thought-provoking. I mean as a person who works to live a Christian life through practicing my Catholic faith, isn’t that all I need to do?  

I pulled a receipt out of my purse, turned it over to the blank side and jotted down notes on the homily. He started by quoting Scripture to underscore that there is a definite destination for us to travel to.  

“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” (John 14:2-3) 


Father advised us to remember: 

  • Everyone will have a one-on-one with Jesus 
  • Mary the Mother of God is the model for how to live 
  • Say “Yes” to God 
  • Live a life modeled after Jesus 
  • Love our neighbors 
  • Spend time in prayer with God every day 




So on the ferry home I reflected on preparing to travel to heaven. When I plan a trip, the first consideration is mode of travel: will I drive or fly? The second thing to consider is accommodations: where will I stay? What is there to do, or who will I see while I’m visiting? Finally, how much will this experience cost?  

Obviously, the Lord will provide the mode of travel. My mind hopes that it will be like in the movies, and someone who has gone before me will come to me, take my hand, and lead me to heaven. At this time in my life, of course, I envision it will be my husband.

In terms of accommodations, like Scripture says, there are many dwelling places. In other faith traditions, they reference mansions in heaven. For me, heaven would be a house on the beach with a spectacular view of the ocean. What I would be busy doing is visiting all my loved ones who had gone before me. In counting the costs for traveling to heaven it seems that my plan will have to include saving up my blessings and working hard to build a deep relationship with Jesus.  


The Church says there are three things you must do to get to heaven:  

  • Attend Mass every Sunday and on Holy Day of Obligation
  • Go to Confession at least once a year
  • Fast and abstain on the days appointed by the Church  

Many churches are bracing for the “Summer Slump,” the time of year when so many go on vacation and don’t include attending Mass in their travel plans. If I am going on vacation for a week, my planning always includes trying to head to a vigil Mass before heading out of town or returning before 5 PM on Sunday to make sure I meet my obligation. Be sure to check MassTimes.org to find a church close to where you are vacationing. [Editor's note: once you find a Mass nearby, double-check on the parish website or by calling the office; the MassTimes website doesn't always have the most recent information.]  

I think attending Confession while on vacation is such a great opportunity to share your sins with a priest you've not previously met is a wonderful way to experience the sacrament. The anonymity of the confessor and your surroundings will foster an openness of heart to seek reconciliation with the Lord.  

Fasting or abstaining from meat on specific days as prescribed by our liturgical seasons comes at a minimal cost. During a vacation is also an opportunity to fast from things that separate us from God. Allow yourself to spend time in nature, silence, and prayer during vacation.  


Click to tweet:
I hope my trip to heaven is many summers away, but thinking about how to prepare is a great reminder to live my Catholicity more fully. #CatholicMom


I hope my trip to heaven is many summers away, but thinking about how to prepare is a great reminder to live my Catholicity more fully. Hopefully, this sparks thoughts for you on what your plans are for traveling to heaven. 



Copyright 2023 Sherry Hayes-Peirce
Images: Canva