In his article on “phrases that show everyday Catholic wisdom,” Tom Hoopes shared a few of his favorite sayings. To his list, I’d like to add one of my own:

“It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” 

Not sure about my choice?  It’s no wonder. A popular saying on party flags and bar décor, the phrase is commonly used as a lighthearted excuse to tipple before the socially accepted “happy hour.”

But to Catholics, the phrase “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” can have eternal significance.  Before there was any such thing as www.masstimes.org, Catholics relied on something called a “Mass clock” to tell them where in the world, at any hour of the day or night, Mass was being celebrated. With a glance at the Mass clock, a Catholic could determine in which geographic region the chalice was being lifted up, and then unite himself with the Holy Sacrifice by means of the recommended “prayer for every hour”:

Eternal Father, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I wish to unite myself with Jesus, now offering His Precious Blood in (name of country) in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the needs of Holy Church, the conversion of sinners, the relief of the souls in Purgatory, and for the special grace I here implore.

During World War II, Mass clocks were particularly helpful to Catholic soldiers whose military service and circumstances often prevented them from attending Mass.  The Mass clock printed in wartime missals showed a world map with the names of two different geographic regions flanking each of the clock numerals. The accompanying text read, “No matter when you look at your clock…some priest is offering Mass!” Also in use among the military were Mass clock medals. Embossed with an image of the crucifixion on the one side and the hourly prayer on the other, the medals had movable dials to indicate time zones. Stateside Catholics might carry wallet-sized Mass clock charts, which noted that “there are four chalices lifted up every second” and “300,000 Masses offered every 24 hours.”

What could be more consoling than the knowledge that — despite pandemic-related restrictions on the celebration of public Masses and the outright closure of many churches — the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is, at this very moment, being offered somewhere in the world? 

In a pastoral letter on the pandemic, the Diocese of Allentown’s Bishop Alfred Schlert reminded his flock that “our devoted priests will continue to offer Mass,” whether or not the faithful are able to attend.

Noting that “the Holy Eucharist is our Source, our Strength, and our Hope!” Bishop Schlert exhorted the faithful to “recall the truth that Christ’s Presence provides for us a safe resting place, a place of comfort and stillness, a place of rest and healing.”

The Mass clock enables Catholics to take part in the very Sacrifice in which Christ’s Presence is made real. If more Catholics were to regularly unite themselves to Jesus in this way, imagine the benefits, not only to our own families, but to the entire world. After all, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina said, “It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass.”

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.  Lift up your hearts!