It’s summertime in the Northern hemisphere and therefore, for the great majority of people, vacation time. You have probably looked forward to this moment and have great expectations about what you will do, the money you will spend, the places you know, and the endless hours you hope to sleep.
At the same time you are ending (if you haven’t already) your apostolate, leaving your group or community paused to return in a few months, and all your friends in the faith are a little abandoned. It is common that a return to the “spiritual routine” earlier this year is a little heavy because everyone was making the rounds of vacation, and the heart does not always return very in tune with the things of God. It is therefore important to make resources available to all who are part of your catechetical group, community, or parish to stay connected with God during this vacation time. Rest is much better with Jesus.
Pope Benedict XVI, before going on vacation in the summer of 2012, invited us to remember that “in the days full of occupations and problems, but also in those of rest and relaxation, the Lord invites us not to forget that although it is necessary to worry about material bread and restore our forces, it is even more fundamental to grow in our relationship with Him, and strengthen our faith in Him who is the Bread of Life.”
That’s why we want to offer you some ideas while you enjoy your well-deserved break so you do not lose your spiritual rhythm and your relationship with God, but even more importantly, you help those who most struggle to stay close to Jesus while recharging their batteries.
1. Visiting a Church is not Just Religious Tourism, It is Visiting Jesus
For Catholics entering a church in tourist cities, it is an obligatory part of the tour. Churches, even the simplest, possess a special beauty. They are delicately arranged and architecturally very well thought out. While we take photographs inside, sometimes we forget that Jesus is right there and the flickering light in the background is a sign that He awaits us.
2. Your Smartphone Can Also Help You To Stay Connected With Your Faith
One of the most important things to pack is your phone charger. You know that you are going to be busy taking photographs, searching directions, communicating with your loved ones, –and the most fanatical ones even review emails to see if there is anything new at work–. It wouldn’t be bad to review these applications every Catholic should have on your smartphone to help you remain vigilant and always keep a good spiritual connection with the Lord. If that is not enough and you are someone who likes to find out when and where there is Mass, here is a website that will help. We all need to know where Mass is on Sundays when we are away from home.
3. Taking Beautiful Photos is an Exercise in Contemplation
Sometimes we take photos hoping that our families and friends will see them and be surprised by the beautiful places we are visiting. Have you ever thought that the Lord made these landscapes and places for you to see them? It is as if He took a photo to publish it on His wall and you thought, “Wow, what a beautiful place”, but in this case it is not a photo – God made this place for you, out of love. Drop the phone a minute, do not worry so much if the photo turns out well and enjoy the postcard that God has made for you.
4. Take Advantage of the Time to Heal Wounds
The speed and intensity with which we carry out the tasks of the year usually leave some wounds in our families, especially in our marriages. It is a good idea to take time to talk intimately, to heal those wounds and heal each other. Taking that time without the trouble of household chores is sure to be profitable.
5. A Good Read is Also Prayer
There are occasions in which we get caught in the structure and if we do not pray, we feel that we are not connected to God and our spiritual life. It is true, prayer is important, but when you get to bed late and get up later still, as usually happens on vacation, it is difficult to make a good prayer. On the other hand, many people take things to read on vacation. I invite you in this vacation to leave the romantic suspense novel at home and bring a good book to help you grow spiritually. Get it out of your head that faith is boring; the lives of the Saints are tremendous adventure novels.
6. Give to Those Who Do Not Have. Learn to See Jesus in Others
Jesus is there, in those suffering and unhappy. Tourist attractions also have those people. We forget to look around and see that maybe those around you have not had the best of days. The lights, the shops, the handicrafts, rich meals, and the beach distract us. The boy sitting on the street corner or the girl selling sweets at traffic lights may often go unnoticed. Make an effort to notice. Vacation is a good time to put into practice the corporal works of mercy which Pope Francis invites us to do in this Year of Mercy.
7. Do Not Carry Spare Baggage
Leave at home the things that can stay at home. Leave work at work. Few things are really necessary on your vacation: your family, your friends, a few clothes, a little money (and that is not always necessary), food, and especially God! Do not fill your suitcase with unnecessary things that will only prevent your rest. Bring instead those things that help you replenish your energy and come back completely renewed to return to your routine.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
What other ideas do you have for not taking vacations from God?
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