Business travel: pilgrimage or occasion of sin?
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:11)
The ordinary experience of a Catholic business traveler provides opportunities for both spiritual growth and evangelization. It also can be a time where we might be tempted to sin and compromise our commitment to virtue. As someone who travels constantly for business, I thought I would pass on some of my habits formed to make these trips into mini-pilgrimages.
Begin the trip well
- Pray the rosary while waiting to board the flight.
- Make the sign of the cross and pray the rosary again upon takeoff.
- Make the sign of the cross and offer a blessing before eating any in-flight food.
- Make another sign of the cross upon landing.
While these slightly conspicuous Catholic practices might attract looks, they also frequently create an opening for dialogue with other faithful or those searching for spiritual comfort.
Take a stand at check-in
- Request in advance that there be no alcohol in the minibar. Stop patronizing hotels that demand an exorbitant fee for alcohol removal.
- Insist that “adult” cable channels be disabled or that the cable be completely disconnected.
- Ask for the location of the nearest Catholic church and its weekday Mass schedule.
Alcohol and pornography can be sources of temptation. They also are at the foundation of much human sex trafficking, and business travelers form a prominent client base. Be part of the countermovement by taking a stand.
Sanctify the room
- Travel with a vial of holy water and bless the hotel room immediately.
- Place a small crucifix and blessed saints’ medals on the desk and next to the bed.
- Carry spiritually nourishing material, such as the Legatus Timeless Prayers for Busy People.
- Free hotel wifi is overwhelmingly used for pornography, and Catholics are not immune from this temptation. My work computer prevents me from using hotel networks. Sticking to business electronic devices is a good strategy. If using personal devices, software such as Covenant Eyes can offer protection.
As there are no eyes on you in your hotel room, invite God’s eyes and spiritual protection into that space.
Begin pilgrimage upon waking
- If possible, get up early, pray, and exercise.
- Visit that Catholic church identified at check-in — if not for Mass or Confession, then at least to offer an oration.
- Be on high alert about business entertaining. I frequently make excuses to drink nothing at all or have at most one or two glasses of wine.
- Speak openly about your Catholic faith and other wholesome subjects such as family and books. Never join in any vulgarity.
- Get back to the hotel early and call home. These are trusted best practices, but we must be equally committed to keeping our business guests and colleagues spiritually safe too.
Return home with spiritual impact
- Drop a note to the hotel management requesting pornography blockers on the hotel wifi. (Let’s start a movement!)
- Thank hotel management for any signage in the hotel alerting guests to signs of human trafficking.
- Drive like a Christian.
- Use the constant irritations and stresses of travel to imitate Christ. Forgiveness is the antidote to stress.
- Consume no alcohol on the flight home. Look forward to a glass of wine with your spouse instead. The armor of God is effective. Use it and stay safe!
JONATHAN TERRELL is the president of the Washington, D.C., Chapter. He is founder and president of KCIC, a Washington-based consulting firm that helps companies manage their product liabilities.