Holiday time! Who does not look forward to the long, warm, pleasant days of the summer holidays, – for those of us who live in the northern hemisphere – when the children, home from school or university, fill the house with noise and merriment once more, and most of us have a break from early morning dashes off to work, strict routines and time-tables, and at least a certain amount of stress? Summer holidays = time to travel to new places, or to relax and enjoy the beauty and peace of nature; time to spend with old friends or family who might come to stay; time to catch up with our favourite sports or hobbies; time to read those books we just never get round to reading during the year; time for barbecues with friends, or trips to the sea, countryside or mountains etc.
But what about God? What about our Catholic Faith? Do we find any time during the long lazy days of the summer holidays to deepen our commitment to Our Lord and Saviour?
If we truly desire to fulfill the first Commandment: “to love and serve God with all our hearts and minds and strength”, the summer holidays can be the best opportunity to do so. And the wonderful paradox of it all is: we don’t need to give up anything…. except our all-too-human tendency to laziness and procrastination!
Some lucky ones might be able to spend time during the summer to go on a spiritual retreat; a wonderful and sure way to give one’s soul a real spiritual uplift! But for those who are unable to do so, the summer should not be a time to neglect our Catholic duties and to remain always in the “presence of the Lord”.
In fact, it should be even easier for most of us to “see” God now, in the beauty and majesty of His Creation, than in the mundane busy-ness of our every day lives during the rest of the year. As we swim, sunbathe, hike, or simply relax in the garden or wherever, we can turn our thoughts and prayers to God: “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good”; (Paslm 34:8) This is also a good time to take up Lectio Divina (spiritual reading, whose four movements are: read, meditate, pray, contemplate), or just to read the gripping biographies of the saints and other books by some of our great Catholic authors. (I have many books on my shelves that I never seem to find time to read during the rest of the year; now is the time to dust them off and tuck into a feast of reading.)
Don’t forget that there are some special saints’ and holy feast days during the month of August: 1st, St. Alphonsus Liguori, 4th St. John Vianney, 6th the Transfiguration of the Lord, 8th St. Dominic, 9th St. Edith Stein, 11th St. Clare, 14th St. Maximilian Kolbe, then the feast of the Assumption into Heaven of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 15th August, a holiday of obligation, and the Queenship of Mary on the 22nd! We also celebrate the feast of St. Monica on the 27th, and on 28th that of her son, St. Augustine.