Summer is about half-over now. Here in Wisconsin, the weather is warming up and the humidity is climbing. Flowers are blooming. People are gardening. Pollen counts have been really high this year, making me sick. A lot of summer tourism festivals are happening. Young people are engaged in their sport leagues. But soon summer will be gone. Children will be back in school. Vacations will be had.
Has your summer gone quicker than you could have imagined? Where has God fit into your summer? Have there been times where you neglected Sunday Mass or daily prayer? In the days we have left of this precious time called summer, I’d like to encourage you to find God each day. Here are five ways:
- Notice the beauty of nature around you!
God created the heavens and the earth, and every living creature for that matter. The summer months afford us the opportunity to do lots of things. Running, biking, hiking, camping, and boating probably top your list of recreational activities. Wherever you are, there is nature, there is beauty. Wherever you are, stop. Be still. Be silent. Listen to what is going on around you. Hear the birds chirping in the woods. Look at the forest line and the landscapes. Smell the flower alongside the road. God created these things not simply to fill the earth, but for us to appreciate them. Afterward, thank God for his beautiful work!
- Participate in God’s creative action
Jesus often used agrarian imagery in the gospels. For example, a man scatters seed on the land, and the seed sprouts and grows. You have an opportunity to participate in God’s creative action in the world. Plant some flowers; grow some vegetables; harvest the fruit of your work. Afterward, make a fresh salad or a fruit pie. Eat it. You deserve it, because after all, you cooperated in God’s creative work.
- Don’t forget to pray and thank God
We walk by faith and not by sight. Faith requires belief and prayer aids that belief. A lot of people pray when someone is in need of prayer. Prayer is more than just intercessory prayer. God wants to be in a constant relationship with you. He wants you to express your praise and gratitude all throughout the day. Pray in the morning and the evening. Ask God to be with you throughout the work you will undertake. At the close of the day, give thanks to God. When you sit down and eat as a family, pray before meals in order to recall God’s blessings, and pray afterward, in thanksgiving for God’s providence. In the busyness of the summer, we can sometimes lose sight of daily prayer, but prayer is essential! Do not forget about your relationship with God.
- Practice the Sacraments
God asks us to keep holy the Sabbath. If you are busy this summer and think you don’t have time for Mass, think again! Mass is the most important thing of the week, it is when we have an opportunity to have total communion with our God by our reception of Holy Communion. Some Catholics go to Mass almost every day. If your summer schedule permits, try to go to a daily Mass, be nourished daily by the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist. If you cannot get to daily Mass, consider reading the scriptures proclaimed at Mass, they are available here. In addition to Mass, make Confession a part of your summer experience. While the Church asks us to go once a year, unless we are conscious of grave sin, more frequent Confessions increase the grace of God within us. The Sacraments are important in our lives as Catholics.
- Do something for other people
During the summer months we can focus a lot on ourselves and our need for recreation. It is always good to consider the needs of others. Jesus tells us how we will be judged at the end of our life in Matthew 15—it’s when we have fed the hungry or gave drink to the thirsty. Consider volunteering at a food pantry with your family. When you give to others you also receive. Serving the less fortunate is good for the soul because it reminds us of God’s blessings in our lives, and allows us to become a blessing in the lives of others. Give generously to others and God will be generous to you on the Day of Judgment!
Jesus loved telling His parables which focused on the kingdom of God. If you want to inherit the Kingdom of God, do not forget about God this summer. I love reminding people that eternal life is a life spent with God. We must use our time now, here on earth, as training for life with God. If God is not important now, if we do not want to spend our life with Him right now, why spend all eternity with God? God wants to be a part of our lives right now. It’s why He created such a beautiful world and has given us the summer months—so we can bask in His goodness. Participate in God’s creative action, pray daily, celebrate the sacraments, and do good unto others. Then when summer has ended, you will be renewed, not only in mind and body, but in your spirit as well.