Navigating the Challenges of Mass Attendance in a Rural Area - Catholic Rural Life

Navigating the Challenges of Mass Attendance in a Rural Area

Kaycee Monnens Cortner • February 21, 2024

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“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Ps. 118: 24

Attending Mass when you live remotely definitely takes some planning, but when we consider that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, the envy of the angels, and that we have the opportunity to receive Our Lord so intimately, it is a sacrifice well worth making. 

Saint John Vianney said, “There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.” 

I’m Kaycee Cortner for Catholic Rural Life. I’m a ranch wife, horsewoman, editor, writer, and mom. My family lives on a remote Wyoming cattle ranch and I live about an hour from Sunday Mass in any direction. I put three hours minimum into getting to Mass every weekend, but I consider it a great privilege. I’m blessed to live rurally, and blessed to get the chance to go to the most holy sacrifice of the Mass. 

Section 2184 of the Catechism states, “Just as God ‘rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done,’ human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone to enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.”

We in agriculture work hard. While it is a virtue to work diligently, it is also a virtue to rest when we are commanded. That can be difficult for us when there are never-ending chores and projects on the farm or ranch. But Sundays are meant to be “set apart”, according to the Catechism. 

As I said, we live a ways from town, but I have personally always loved driving. It is the perfect time to think and pray. By myself, the Rosary is usually the first thing I pray when leaving the driveway. If I’m with my husband, we’ll often listen to a Catholic podcast on our way to church, which usually sparks great conversation and keeps our mind focused on the Sabbath. 

We aim to arrive 15 minutes before Mass starts, giving us time to get the baby situated and enjoy some silent prayer time before Mass begins. After Mass, donuts for the drive are a must. When we get home, we usually try to make a large brunch together, then spend the day in rest and recreation, enjoying each other’s company as a family. We might take a drive, ride horses together, read, visit friends, or something else that renews the spirit. As commanded, we do no menial work. 

Those of us in agriculture sometimes still have chores, even on the Sabbath. God’s creatures don’t know what day it is. All they know is when it’s time to eat. It might take a little extra planning to make it to Mass around feeding time, but as we know, most parishes have several opportunities to attend. Even while taking care of those necessary daily obligations, it is colored with the peace, silence, and recollection of the day, remembering Our Lord and his Passion and Resurrection. 


Our obligation is to make it to Mass each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation that we can. Certainly, Our loving Father who sees our extra effort to make it to Mass rewards us with the extra graces to fulfill that call. I have experienced this in my own life. God has blessed me richly, and I know the Mass is the font of these gifts. As the cowboy priest from Wyoming Fr. Bryce Lungren said in his book The Catholic Cowboy Way, “You can’t get fed if you don’t show up to supper.”


About the author

Kaycee Monnens Cortner is a ranch wife, mother, horsewoman, writer, and editor at Tri-State Livestock News. Her family lives on a historic Wyoming cattle ranch where her husband works. She enjoys reading from Chesterton and the saints, and her blog can be found at thepreservationoffire.com.

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