by Joe Bollig
Like the old song says, “Summer time, and the livin’ is easy.”
Don’t you believe it.
Sure, the kids are out of school, but there are a bushel of activities that they are involved in: swimming lessons, summer camp, baseball, soccer, summer reading programs, dance, vacations and more.
Anybody who has piloted Mom’s/ Dad’s taxi for the summer knows that this season simply has a different kind of busy. And sometimes that busy can have an impact on our faith.
Just look at those pews this coming weekend. Do they look emptier? They just might be. It doesn’t help that summer time is Ordinary Time in the church calendar. None of the big feasts (except for Corpus Christi) takes place at this time of year.
The summer slump is just one of those periodic times in the year when Mass attendance takes a dip, according to Father John Schmeidler, OFM Cap., pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Lawrence.
Adult Mass attendance tends to rise and fall according to the major liturgical feasts.
“As the warm weather comes, it tends to wane a little bit, but I don’t think there’s a significant difference compared to other wanings,” said Father John.
“People get busy . . . and, unfortunately, they sometimes put God second for the summer,” he continued. “That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. God is supposed to be a part of our summers — and that includes our vacations.”
If you do it right, any vacation can have a spiritual dimension.
“To me, a vacation is a time to relax from all the stresses of life,” said Father John. “It’s almost like taking a retreat. A retreat is moving away from all the things that you would normally do so you can put life back into its proper perspective.”
So, when you’re on vacation, “vacate” from all the things you normally hold on to in your regular life, he said. Take time to relax and appreciate the blessings God has given you.
“Relax and enjoy the moment,” said Father John. “This is time God has given you to enjoy the life he has given you . . . so you may know his sacredness and holiness in that moment you are sharing with him.”
If you want to keep God in your summer, you simply cannot skip Mass. It remains the “source and summit” of Christian life, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, no matter what time of year.
In a Pentecost homily given in 2007, Bishop Thomas Wenski of the diocese of Orlando told how his seminary rector would offer this wisdom at the start of their summer recess: “Remember, guys, there is no vacation from a vocation.”
“Even on vacation we still must be faithful to our baptismal vocation to holiness,” said Bishop Wenski. “[In Orlando] parents, by bringing their kids to Mass, witness to the fact that God does matter.”