Today was the final parish school Mass of the year, in which Fr. Richards and Fr. Nathan collaborated on the homily/skit to underscore to the students that we do not take a vacation from God. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few ideas to keep growing in faith during these months of summer leisure.
- Make Sunday Mass a priority all summer long. Especially for those of us who like to escape to the cabin or lake, or who plan trips during the summer months, it can be tempting to skip out on Mass, or to plan to attend the last possible weekend Mass and miss accidentally or arrive late, hungry, harried, and distracted. But Mass and the Eucharist are central to our Catholic faith — the closest encounter with Christ and the most powerful prayer we can offer! Wherever you are headed, take time to find a Catholic Church along the way and make sure you make it to Saturday evening or Sunday Mass. (We once stopped at the Catholic Church in St. Ignace on the way back from Michigan, and the kids were invited by the priest to help with the May Crowning of Mary!) If you have kids, let them look online and help you pick which church you attend, then check out the stained glass, statues, Stations of the Cross, and such — and see what you can learn about that parish’s patron saint.
- Make Confession a priority. Most of us don’t sin less during the summer, so Confession is no less important during vacation. Get it on the calendar now, so you don’t forget — and if you do happen to miss weekend Mass, make it a priority to do penance and receive absolution before the next weekend, to ensure you receive all the graces of the Eucharist when you receive Jesus again!
- Don’t forget prayer and spiritual reading. Some of us relish our down time, and look forward to those quiet moments on the deck, in the the sun, on the water, or in the garden. Before you turn on the Twins game or grab the latest paperback thriller, take a little time for quiet prayer or spiritual reading. Give to God from the top of your time, and He will give you so much in return! Also, don’t overlook the blessings of the Road-Trip Rosary: kick off any long drive with a family rosary and see if the trip doesn’t go more smoothly!
- Check out daily Mass or Adoration. It’s easy during the summer to run ourselves ragged and need a spiritual recharge. Daily or weekday Mass offers a great opportunity for quiet time to pray and to receive a daily dose of scripture and the Holy Eucharist. Often weekday Mass is early or late in the day, providing a nice bookend to whatever else you have planned, and most weekday Masses are only about 30 minutes long. Or for more flexibility, check out the nearest Adoration Chapel, and spend one-on-one time praying before the Blessed Sacrament. Bring your Bible or current spiritual book and see what Jesus has to say as you dig deeper into the words on the page!
- Sign the kids up for Vacation Bible School (VBS). This year’s VBS offering is Cathletics: Training to Be Champions for Christ! VBS is open to children from four years old through those who have just completed 5th grade. Registration forms and more information are available on the parish website, at the parish office, or in Gathering Space.
- Take the family to Camp Lebanon for faith-filled fun on the water! Enjoy lakeside cabin and lodge style camping near Upsala for families from St. Albert and St. Michael parishes, coming up August 14-16 – swimming, fishing, zipline, paintball, fireside rosary, Mass, and more. Information is available on the easel in the Gathering Space.
- Register for our free series on meditative prayer. Local Catholic teacher Angie Lambert and local Catholic speaker Michelle Steele will be offering two evening sessions on meditative prayer: what it is and how to grow in it–including a little time to practice. They will also be discussing contemplative prayer, a higher form of prayer beyond meditative prayer, toward which meditation leads, as well as the virtues that lead us to a deeper life of prayer. We all know the key to happiness and peace is a life of prayer. These sessions are free and open to all ages; they will be held at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, on Monday, June 22, and Monday, June 29, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Please RSVP by June 17 at taketimeforHim@tds.net or call Monica at the parish office at (763) 497-2745 to sign up.
- Go on an actual retreat! We have great opportunities for Catholic retreats in this area, including King’s House in Buffalo, Pacem In Terris in Isanti, and the Jesuit Retreat House (Demontreville) in Lake Elmo. For a more complete listing of Catholic retreat centers around Minnesota, visit CatholicRetreats.net.
- Consider getting one of the publications for kids that explore the weekend Mass readings and discussing them before Mass. Not only will this provide a great and simple opportunity to share scripture and your faith, but it will also deepen their Mass experience, since they will be hearing the readings for the second time! Either Magnifikid! or Celebrating Sunday for Catholic Families are good options.
- My bride and I are part of a couples group that is just finishing Jason Free’s Parenting on Purpose, an easy-to-read refresher on why Christian (specifically Catholic) parenting matters, with simple, practical ideas on how parents can raise children who catch and keep the faith.
- For parents of teens, our youth minister, John O’Sullivan recently recommended Blessed are the Bored in Spirit: A Young Catholic’s Search for Meaning by Mark Hart. I’m just reviewing this now, but it appears to be geared toward teens who may just be going through the motions and those who care about them
- I also know several families who swear by reading about the lives of the saints as a great way to inspire children and teens to lead holy lives. There are lots of books on the lives of the saints, saints of the day, etc. — or you can pick biographies of particular saints that might appeal to specific children. The book we gave away at the parish this past Christmas, Jason Evert’s Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves, is a wonderful and inspiring read for young Catholics and older alike — and I’m sure I have an extra copy of it if you missed out.