Time for Vacation
Summer is here and school is out. It’s time for a vacation. Many families, the world over, go on vacation to get away from the normal day in, day out of busy schedules. Some people stay at home and have “stay-cations.” Some go to the beach or the mountains. Some go to the desert and others go to lakes, rivers, ponds, or take a cruise. No matter where you and your family and friends go on vacation, God is there.
When you go on vacation, what are your priorities? Do you want to take in the sights, find entertainment, go shopping, sit back and relax, get out into nature, party and go dancing, find some sporting events…? Do you plan everything out in advance or just go with the flow?
No matter what your answers are, it is important to prioritize God. Taking a vacation from work does not mean taking a vacation from the Catholic Faith. Vacation is the perfect time to focus on God more clearly and center yourself back on Him. He wants you to go on vacation and enjoy yourself and have a great time with family and friends. Do not let the opportunity to spend time with Him pass by.
5 Ways to Encounter God On Vacation
1 – In the Planning
When you are planning your vacation, say a quick prayer. Vacation planning can be very enjoyable or very stressful depending on your personality. However, God wants to a part of your life. Give Him room to surprise you. When you are planning, start by planning your Mass schedule. Figure out where you will be on Sunday, find a church, and make that priority number one. At home or on vacation, going to Mass on Sunday is a precept of the Church and a great privilege. It is the primary place of encounter with God.
The other thing to look for is Catholic holy sites near where you are going. Are there any old churches, missions, shrines, or the like in the areas where you will be staying? These can also be a beautiful place of encounter.
2 – In Nature
God is the Creator of all things visible and invisible. Take the opportunity to go out into nature. Take a hike. Swim in the ocean. Walk through the forest. Wherever you go, even in the middle of a busy city, keep your eyes open for God’s masterwork. All that is good, true, and beautiful points to His magnificence. Let Him speak to you through His marvelous handiwork.
3 – In Other People
One of the most interesting ways to encounter God on vacation is through interactions with other people. In new places, with strangers, you have a beautiful opportunity to practice charity. Let the Holy Spirit guide you and treat everyone you meet as an opportunity for an encounter with God. When you go to restaurants or tourist locations, go out of your way to treat the workers with kindness. Perhaps, if you see a person who is living on the street, buy them food, ask them their name, and sit and eat with them. Look for opportunities of encounter with other people.
4 – In Cemeteries
Depending on where you are in the world, cemeteries can look very different. In some older cities, cemeteries can stretch on for miles. In some parts of Louisiana, the cemeteries are built above ground. In some old European cities, there are burial places in catacombs. If you are given the opportunity, go to a cemetery and pray for the dead. Each of the departed is unique, unrepeatable human beings made in the image and likeness of God and He loves them perfectly. However, God has given us the tremendous gift to pray for the dead and make atonement for the holy souls in Purgatory. Perhaps some of the people that you pray for are already in Heaven. If that is the case, then they may become an intercessor for you and your family.
Praying in cemeteries with your family may not be a normal activity, but it can make an impact on your children. They will understand that Christians honor the dead and that praying for the dead is important. Hopefully, one day when you and I are deceased, a kind stranger will pray for our repose as well.
5 – In Service
Vacation is the perfect time to find opportunities for service. Perhaps while you are planning, you can pray to God and let Him know that you are open to the idea of being of service. In a new place, just like at home, there are always people in need. As followers of Christ, it is important that we not take a break from the practice of the works of mercy. Through serving together, as a family, you will encounter God. Each time I have done intentional service, I have learned a great deal about God, about myself, and about our human family.
This is not a conclusive list, of course. The number one piece of advice I can give is to be open to how God is working in your life. This is true at home and at work but it is also true on vacation. Vacation offers us a chance to break out of the mundane patterns of life and see God with fresh eyes and hear Him through open ears. He wants to reveal Himself to you and wants to draw you closer to eternal salvation, even on vacation. Are you open to encountering Him?
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