Catholic Survival Kit Must Haves

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The holidays are a season of travel for millions of people in this country. Driving or flying hundreds and hundreds of miles can take its toll on your mind, body, and even your soul, not to mention the tedious process of packing and unpacking and bag checking. The whole exhausting travail can really throw off your individual or family rhythm of prayer and spiritual life—but it doesn’t have to. Whether you have a clutch purse or a suitcase at your disposal, it’s totally possible to take your sacred space with you wherever you go, and keep yourself spiritually filled in spite of holiday stress with these essentials.

The Essentials

If you take nothing else with you, make sure you always have holy water and a crucifix. Holy water is a sign of your baptism, and its power against evil as well as for the Holy Souls in Purgatory is well-attested. As for the crucifix, numerous saints cherished this physical symbol of Christ’s sacrifice for us, and the demons literally cannot stand the crucifix or the sign of the cross. You can easily find holy water bottles and crucifixes in travel or pocket-sized forms at most Catholic gift and religious supply shops. My bottle pictured here is four ounces and both fit easily in a small pocket inside my purse.

There are bookoodles of prayer apps out there, but you never know when your phone will take a swan dive into an airport toilet or disappear into another dimension entirely. For a backup, make sure you have a pocket prayer book tucked away somewhere. St. Joseph makes a good one with all the daily essentials, as well as prayers to the saints, litanies, and Stations of the Cross.

Prayer cards. You can never have too many prayer cards right? It’s always a good idea to carry a few, at least one each of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, your patron saint, and a few saints you feel close to. When I set up a portable altar at my destination (usually a hotel room or my grandma’s house), I stick to the Eastern iconostasis pattern of Mary to the left of center, Jesus to the right, patron saint to the left of Mary and an archangel (usually  St. Michael) to the right of Jesus.

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If you’re like me, any rosaries you try to take with you anywhere usually get hopelessly tangled or disappear entirely. Rosary rings are quite handy because not only do they not tangle, but they are discreet and can be used almost anywhere without attracting attention.  Our Lady herself said the rosary is one of the greatest weapons against evil—never leave home without it.

Extras

If you’ve packed strategically, you probably have some room for extras to augment your essentials. Here are some extras I always like to keep with me, that are special to me in some way or another.

I think every Catholic has a bajillion saint medals laying around—in jewelry boxes, on bedside tables, under mattresses, in long-forgotten pockets. After gathering up all of mine it was evident that my neck could not support that immense weight, so I put them on a short chain with my Pardon Crucifix, and always keep it with me in the front pocket of my purse. Never hurts to have indulgences on the go.

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These are two little curios I’ve picked up over the years that never leave the front pocket of my purse, where the rest of my Catholic survival kit is stored. On the left is a little laminated charm with a piece of cloth touched to the tomb of Fr. Solanus Casey inside that was given to me by a pilgrim when I worked at a Marian shrine in Florida. On the right is a tiny little wooden icon I found in a shop in Savannah, Georgia with a guardian angel on the front and Psalm 91 etched on the back.

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