With summer and our vacations almost upon us, I thought I’d take a moment to give you some encouragement to make your summer time special and close to God!
It’s so important to bring a spirit of deep gratitude to God with you on vacation. So, before you travel, I encourage you to visit masstimes.org, where you can enter almost any place you will travel, even outside the U.S. You’ll get a google map with markers of the local Catholic churches and their times for Masses and confessions throughout the week, as well as a link to their webpages, if they have any. There are also some Mass-time apps for you to investigate. So plan some time on your Sunday mornings for Mass.
If you’ll be visiting with friends or family in far-off places, let them know that worshipping God on Sunday morning is a priority. Most will make an effort to accommodate you. Your expressing this interest is a form of evangelizing them – proclaiming the powerful place God has in your life.
If you can, keep the bulletins from the churches you visit and share them with me when you return. I learn all kinds of things from reviewing other parishes’ activities in their bulletins.
By the way, many cruises have Catholic chaplains offering Mass on-board.
On a different note, I encourage you to get a paperback Bible and put it in the trunk of your car, or download the Bible to your iPhone, perhaps the New American Bible, Revised Edition, which has an app for only $2.99. Put a post-it note at Psalm 104, to pray when you’re in the mountains or at the ocean – It’s a beautiful hymn of praise for all of God’s creation. Another would be Psalm 66, especially verses 614, when at the ocean or in a place where farmers bring forth food from the earth. If you’re ever in a place where you can see the Milky Way, have Psalm 8 close to hand and recount the glory of God’s heavens. Perhaps, in a place of wild beauty, you’ll want to simply reread the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1, on the creation of the world. A really special thing to do, in a place of wild beauty, with the spouse you love passionately, is to read the Song of Solomon together. The NABRE puts a “W” where the woman is to read, and an “M” where the man is supposed to read. There are some comical moments, comparing one’s wife to a mare, or one’s husband to an apple tree, but there are even more expressions that are beautiful. If flying gets to you, Psalm 91 is a lovely prayer for God’s calming assistance.
If you’re interested in a book to share with your small children on a road trip, take a look at Does God Know How to Tie Shoes, by Nancy White Carlstrom.
If you’re going to spend time with family and friends, consider avoiding politics for a while longer. Everyone’s feeling a bit fragile, and it’s so easy to spoil a good time with talk on divisive issues. Give yourself permission to kindly, kindly, tell your kin that you’d rather talk about something else.
I hope you have the most wonderful journeys. It might be nice, though, to give yourself some time to really rest. God rested at the end of Creation. Leave some time for that in whatever vacation time you have. Remember, if you don’t have any vacation time coming, that if you run down to Point Mugu with a beach chair and a sandwich and whatever else you want to snack on, you can give yourself a mini-vacation at a place of spectacular beauty. We are so lucky to live where we do!
As your father, I need to remind you to put on your sunscreen and have amazing adventures.