As a teacher, I find my summer months are often ruled by constantly changing schedules and very little routine. Even when I was not working as a teacher, the summer was simply different. For me, having more time with family on the weekends and more energy for life makes for a great opportunity to have fun and increase my faith. And while I will be the first to admit that having the summer off is something to be cherished, I’ve still found it to be a challenge to remain rooted in the faith when my and my family’s time is less structured.
Add prayer to your summer bucket list
The first area that I found to be particularly helpful in keeping God at the center of my summer months was incorporating at least one type of prayer each day. I would decide between picking up a spiritual book, reading the Bible, or praying the Rosary, and stick with it. Choosing just one allows for spiritual growth by being simple in prayer. No one wants their summer or their time off to be strictly laden with check-ins, but a good spiritual rule of thumb is that when we schedule God in our day, he is never outdone in generosity.
I found that keeping a similar morning routine year-round, even when there is time off on the weekend or the summer in general, can go a long way. I wake up at a similar time each morning, make some coffee and head outside for some spiritual reading or prayer before the family wakes up. Setting goals for what I wanted to read or what I needed to pray for has allowed for a beautiful balance between being too strict with prayer and not praying at all in the summer.
I also have attempted to set aside at least one afternoon or evening a week when I could visit a local church for Eucharistic Adoration or to just sit quietly. Doing some research on when your local parishes have Mass or Adoration, or simply have the church building open, can truly be a huge help. This makes portions of the summer feel like a mini-retreat. These small habits prevent me from having the entire summer pass me by without growing closer to God.
Rejoice in the day the Lord has made
Second, I have found that giving myself over to the spontaneity of what summer can be is such a blessing. There are days when plans come up with family and friends at the last second. Summer is not meant to stress us out more, but to revive our childlike spirits. I have found that when we spontaneously decide to go to the zoo one weekend because my wife randomly saw a commercial for one on TV, life is simply better. The more ways I apply this principle to my family life and faith life, the more joy comes about.
There are days when meal plans are thrown out the window so we make a mess of the kitchen and embrace some chaos. At times it can feel as if we “got nothing done,” but the only thing that mattered was that we were together as a family. In this way, the summer months can truly be an invitation to become more like Mary and Joseph who went with the flow as God guided them on the journey of their own family life.
Keep the Sabbath holy (and summer-y)
Third, we have found it to be a huge blessing to have Sunday breakfast together every weekend. Whether it is before or after Mass, there is something about having a family meal on a Sunday morning that looks different than other meals that brings the family together. The kids can help set the table or cook while mom and dad provide a small feast for the family. And, in the summer, you can eat inside or outside which the kids really love.
As your family gears up for the summer months, whatever these days might look like, carve out some time each day for prayer, cling to the “random” events that come your way as a family, and have a Sunday morning feast to celebrate. I have found that these three realities are a recipe for a summer well spent and a faith increased.