Everything seems a bit more relaxed with summer. I suppose this is mainly due to the nicer weather and the increased opportunities to have some vacation time from our regular routines.
I propose to you that summer also provides us with some additional time to focus on our spiritual lives, to invest in our relationship with Christ and to reflect on our attentiveness to those in need.
A few weeks ago, during his homily on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), Archbishop Charles Chaput mentioned something that bears repeating here. Our participation in Sunday Mass, each Sunday, is the minimal requirement of living a truly Christian life, and it cannot end there.
The Christian life begins with our union with Christ in his offering on the cross in the Eucharist, but it then needs to be fostered and nourished in so many other ways. What happens after Mass is what fans into flame the grace shared with us, keeps us united to Christ and encourages our witness and service to others.
This summer, consider some opportunities to enrich your Christian life.
(Listen to a CatholicPhilly.com podcast with Father Gill discussing summer spirituality.)
You might build some periods of silence into your day to clear your mind and be present to the Lord. Make sure that you pray in the morning and the evening.
Pray the holy rosary, which St. John Paul II observed “has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety.” During my morning walks, I pray the rosary as the city awakens, beginning my day’s journey in the company of Jesus and Mary.
Many of us enjoy catching up on our reading during the summer; bestsellers are a familiar sight on the beach. I can recommend no better book than the word of God itself. You need not be a Scripture scholar to simply open the Bible and explore its riches. I would suggest beginning with the Gospel of Luke, where the beautiful and familiar narratives of Christ’s birth, ministry, death and resurrection flow into Luke’s second account, the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts, we are captivated by the figures of Peter and Paul as the Holy Spirit works through them to form the church.
The Psalms are rightly called “the school of prayer,” and these ancient texts, breathed by God, speak to every aspect of human experience. When we read them through the lens of Christ’s saving work, they reveal their fullest treasures.
Many other spiritual classics can help to deepen our relationship with Jesus. Read the life of a saint, and find encouragement and inspiration in tracing his or her path to sanctity, which may include some of the very obstacles you have encountered.
Learn more about the profound mystery that is the sacrament of the holy Eucharist, and deepen your appreciation for this precious gift that sustains us. Spend some time before the most Blessed Sacrament in church, or at least make a visit to the most Blessed Sacrament on occasion. Share your hopes and fears with Christ, who waits for your visit and who longs to give you his grace for your every need.
Go to confession more frequently, and let the Lord’s merciful love free you from the burden of sin. Go to Mass during the week as well as on Sunday; your spirit will be renewed.
As we have received from the Lord, so we must share with others. Having been refreshed by our time in prayer and in sacrament, we go forth to share Christ’s light and life. Visit your neighbors. Volunteer in any number of places where people need your assistance.
Our Christian lives will not mature without some interest and investment on our part. God has already done his part and will not fail to continue to love us and share his life with us. We need to do our part and make a return to the Lord and encourage one another to do so.
Father Gill is the director of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office for Divine Worship, and the rector and pastor of the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.
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