Read: Summer is a time of vacation but that change of pace shouldn't change our focus on pursuing personal holiness. So writes Richard Budd, the Director of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Lansing, in the latest edition of FAITH Magazine. Richard begins his reflection upon summertime with John Updike's poem entitled June. He writes:
The sun is rich,
And gladly pays
In golden hours,
And long green weeks
That never end.
School’s out. The time
Is ours to spend.
The playground calls,
The ice-cream man,
And, after supper,
The live-long light
Is like a dream,
And freckles come
Like flies to cream.
I enjoy this simple poem by John Updike because it fills me with the nostalgia of summers as a kid. I remember playing ball in the bright sunshine, eating apples in the shade, messing with an ant hill and then watching them scramble to put it back together. I remember scarfing down dinner so I could run back outside to play basketball with my friends while we still had sunlight. Summertime is warm, beautiful and delicious! But I think the thing that most characterizes summer is it is the most carefree time of the year.
Summer is the time to kick back on a warm afternoon in a comfy chair with an ice-cold glass of lemonade. It’s a time to visit the lake, or host a barbecue with friends and family. Rest is good. And rest is holy! God commands that we rest.
Interestingly, the Bible doesn’t simply connect rest with a lack of work. As you know, God sets aside the Sabbath every week for rest and the sanctifying of life and the home through worship, but, in the Book of Leviticus, God also declares every seventh year to be a Sabbath year, and every seven Sabbath years (49 years) brings with it a great Jubilee year. These are also times of rest, not only for people but for the land, and a time for re-establishing justice and mercy between oneself and one’s neighbor.
I think we intuitively know that rest must be about more than just “not doing any of the things.” How many times have we gratefully welcomed the end of a vacation because the lack of structure or daily rhythm was disorienting? Teachers have known for a long time that if students don’t read and keep up some bare minimum academic practices, they will backslide. Rest is most restful if it is also about resetting, putting back into order the things of life that have slipped, sometimes without notice.
Summer is a gift to us. It allows us to lighten our load a bit. To relax and renew our minds and bodies. But like the Jews, we should also see these times of rest as times to reset and rectify the various elements of our lives. For most of us, this includes faith as well.
The summer is a perfect time to dig back into your faith and “reset.” There are some wonderful feasts in the summertime that provide great opportunities to celebrate! Feasts like St. Mary Magdalene (July 22) who first saw the risen Lord, or Sts. Joachim and Anne (July 26) who were Jesus’ grandparents — a great day to visit Grandma and Grandpa! There is the feast of the Transfiguration (Aug. 6); St. Lawrence’s (Aug. 10) is a great day to grill (Google it); and we have the great Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary (Aug. 15).
Since summertime is also perfect for family outings and vacations, there are some wonderful local pilgrimages to go on in the warm weather. There is the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit, where you can visit the tomb of our very own Blessed. His feast day is July 30. And in Northern Michigan, you can drive to Indian River and visit one of the largest crucifixes in the world, a 55-foot-high cross made from an Oregon redwood tree and a seven-ton bronze corpus of our Lord. The burial site of Father Jacques Marquette is in St. Ignace and the oldest parish in the state is Holy Name of Mary in Sault Ste. Marie, founded in 1668! Wherever you vacation, however, don’t forget Masstimes.org, which keeps a database of parish Mass schedules across the country. There’s no vacationing from the Lord!
Practicing the faith in the summer is one of the most important things to do as a family. Whether it’s driving up to the Cross in the Woods and having a picnic or simply praying the rosary together around the campfire, it is these moments that confirm the faith not only for ourselves, but have lasting effects on our children as well. Invite the Lord into your rest and have a great summer!
* First published in the July/August 2023 edition of Faith Magazine.