Keeping the Sabbath When Out to Sea

Going on a cruise that doesn’t offer Sunday Mass? Baltimore’s Chapter of the Apostleship of the Sea has you covered. It recently created “Keep Holy the Sabbath at Sea,” a packet of Catholic resources for those who may not have access to Mass while on the water.
Each packet contains a rosary, prayer books, daily scripture readings and literature to help Catholics pray while on a cruise that includes Sunday.
According to church teaching, Catholics are obligated to attend Mass on Sunday unless prevented by a “grave cause.” Catholics on a cruise where no Mass is available are exempted from this obligation, but should still make Sunday a holy day, said Monsignor John L. FitzGerald, director of Apostleship of the Sea.
Some cruise lines, such as Seattle-based Holland America Line, regularly offer Mass on the boat, Monsignor FitzGerald said. Others offer Mass on holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
Monsignor FitzGerald was inspired to compile the packet after reading “Question Corner”, a Catholic News Service column that appears in the Catholic Review, which in June addressed the topic of missing Mass while on a cruise.
Apostleship of the Sea primarily serves men who work on the cargo ships that sail into Baltimore’s harbor, but the organization is for all seafaring people, he said.
The packets are adapted from devotional items, reading material and other resources they provide the working seafarers. The organization’s volunteers visited more than 2,700 ships last year, said Andy Middleton, Apostleship of the Sea’s director of operations.
The “Keep Holy the Sabbath” packets are available by calling Apostleship of the Sea Baltimore at 443-845-7227. A donation is requested.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 2.8 million passengers were carried on 1,075 North American cruises in 2011, the last year it collected cruise statistics. That year, Baltimore was the 13th–most popular departure port for North American cruise passengers.