KEEPING THE FAITH REFLECTION
After this winter's challenges, we're looking forward to
some “easy living”. Summertime in “vacationland' is a
time for a brief relaxation from some of our formalities
and obligations, from routines and even from some work.
It is time for visiting, travel, barbecues, and getting
outside to enjoy God's gorgeous creation. School's out,
CCD ends, and even the Burning Bush prayer group suspends
their weekly gatherings for a few weeks. We dress more casually, take time off from work, and spend more time outside during the long evenings and extended twilights.
Of course, not all of our responsibilities and routines end. After all, we still need to get ready for NEXT winter. And we don't QUIT our jobs or entirely abandon our duties to family, work, and community. After all, come September, we'll have to saddle up again and resume our normal everyday responsibilities and routines.
So what happens to our spiritual life during the summer? Do we take a break from God? How do we think about the “Church Stuff” that we are involved with during the rest of the year? Is it a chore, an obligation, a responsibility to attend to, to accomplish, and be finished with? Is our faith life something we need to take a BREAK from? Do we need to rest from it, gather our strength from a few weeks of rest so that thus fortified we can take up the yoke of that chore again?
You know, it is hard to attend first Friday adoration in August when the summer is at its best and the weekend barbecue, family gathering, and camping trip beckons. And isn't it true that these activities are good and holy in themselves and refresh our souls as well as our bodies?
Let us take take a look at some ways to make sense of this apparent conflict between our spiritual life and summertime. How can we be good disciples during the summer or whenever we take time off?
Let me propose a very simple idea: When we take a break from our lives, take Jesus with us. Consider how much he loves us. I once heard someone say, “Jesus is just crazy about us!” Why wouldn't he want us to take our family camping and hiking? Does he want our kids to go play little league ball without us cheering them on? Hardly.
But perhaps the danger here is that we FORGET to take Jesus with us. We FORGET that he wants us to enjoy some free time, we FORGET to include him, and thus we forget to thank him and appreciate him and slowly drift away from him. Its like someone taking me to the fair and when I get there, taking off and leaving them by themselves while go off on my own. Kind of rude......Kind of SAD.
So instead of taking a break from our faith this summer, why don't we think about how it can help us enjoy our summer even more. For example:
Say grace before your barbecue. A great demonstration of faith.
Evening prayer a around the campfire? I bet the kids would always remember that.
Continue your visits to the nursing homes and shut ins. Summer may remind them of the joys they no longer can experience and your visit can cheer them. Bring some summer to them.
Jesus never takes a break from us. Let’s remain faithful to him at Weekend Mass.
What better way to start a road trip than with a weekday Mass.
Attend Mass where you travel to and experience firsthand the communion of saints. Communion is not called communion for nothing. We really are one Body of Christ.
Think often of Jesus and remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit is always with us. We don't need to say the whole rosary while walking a beach or climbing a trail but we can pause and reflect occasionally on the blessings of health and resources that allows us to enjoy God's creation.
Our Faith, our Church and our Parish can be so much more than an obligation if we just allow it. Reflect on the aspects of our spiritual life that improve our quality of life: Sacraments, Community, Personal Relationship with Jesus, Peace, Security and oh yes, don't forget, Everlasting Life. These are the elements of our Faith that sustain us and allow us to live life to the fullest.
How often we think of “Church” in terms of that which we need to give TO and forget that what the Church is really about is to give us. Sure, prayer, sacrifice, and service are the guideposts for discipleship but Jesus didn't come just to get stuff from us. He came to give us freedom from evil and eternal life. If our spiritual life is stuck in the obligation mode then its hard to recognize that true value of our Faith, Church, and Parish.
Let’s take a few moments today to plan our summer. Think about specific ways that you can take Jesus with you wherever you go, whatever you do. Focus on simply REMEMBERING that the Holy Spirit is always with you to help you enjoy the blessings God is always eager to shower upon you. Identify those essential elements of your parish involvement that you will continue with and those that should be relaxed. Look for new ways deepen your relationship with Jesus. Who knows? By the end of the summer He may have changed your spiritual life in ways you have not yet imagined. What if your summertime faith life kept right on going come September? What if your summertime replaced the fall and winter? What if this church stuff ceased to be just an obligation and became a source of contentment and peace? What if we actually LIKED to come to church and worship God with our friends?
I think God would be very pleased. “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
- Keeping the Faith