Dear Parish Family,
The summer is here and our recent heat wave made sure we knew it! I hope you all found a way to keep cool, whether it was in an air-conditioned shopping mall, splashing in a pool or enjoying the cool breeze at the beach. Maybe you treated yourself to a tasty frosted drink or ice cream cone. Our necessity to stay cool perhaps provided us with an opportunity to take a much-needed and enjoyable respite from our otherwise busy, same old same routine, a joy we may not have taken the opportunity to experience had the weather not been so extreme.
In our gospel today, Jesus tells his apostles after their return from preaching the good news and healing many, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” To put balance back in their lives they needed time to withdraw for a while to reflect, rest, pray, and be at peace. God the Father set the example, “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation” (Gen 2:3). Jesus too “would withdraw to deserted places to pray” (Lk 5:16). While he was so available to all those in need, the poor, the sick, the outcasts, he knew there was a limit to his availability. He took the time to get away, to rest the body, mind and spirit, being at peace with the Father and the Holy Spirit, a gift he gives us too: “Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (Jn 14:27). His peace gives us salvation, wholeness, health, welfare, safety and balance.
As we make plans and set out on our summer vacations (or staycations), let us not miss the opportunity to recharge our inner selves. It is not about how many items we can check off our bucket list, and it should not be filled with stress in the planning and execution of our plans (I can’t help but think of the Griswolds in National Lampoon's Vacation). Consider a personal goal to take some time to rest, refocus and recharge our spiritual batteries, restoring balance in our lives, especially caregivers of children, parents, or others entrusted in our care. Find some time this summer, even if it is just 10 minutes a day, where you can have some quiet time to reconnect with God.
Last week while on vacation with my husband, we stopped at Margaret Dodd Park in Pismo Beach. The weather was perfect, the view was absolutely breathtaking and my husband practiced his guitar (yes, we take it everywhere). I had the gift of God's presence and his peace. I began to thank him for the beauty of his creation, but soon found myself in complete silence and feeling happiness and peace in His presence. I could have stayed there forever, but just like the apostles after they have rested, I must return to my ministry. Now with my spiritual battery recharged, I return filled with joy and excitement for my continued service and ministry. I even came home with new ideas for the new program year.
Here are some suggestions of what you can do in your “Retreat with God.” For those of you who have young children, planning some quiet, alone time may be a big challenge. Why not do it together, by spending ‘one quiet minute with God,' where your family can learn to listen for God's voice in the whisper. At first it may be more like 10 seconds, but that's okay. If you enjoy a good book, let your summer reading be an opportunity to be inspired by a saint’s life. If you enjoy the outdoors, find a beautiful and tranquil location where you see and feel the presence of God in his creation such as the beach, on a mountaintop, near a waterfall or a beautiful garden.
Once you are there, ask our Lord to join you, then, just be in His presence... don't speak, just listen, and enjoy the quiet. With every breath, breathe in the peace of the Holy Spirit. If getting out to nature is not your thing, consider visiting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel or find another quiet space. If you love apps, try the 3 Minute Retreat by Loyola Press, or God Moment (3 random daily reminders to take a moment to pray) or perhaps a podcast is more your style. Do what works for you and allow your soul to be at peace.
Faith Formation Minister