Faith can still flourish during the summer
The dog days of summer are hitting, fast. School is out, vacations are happening, The pace of life seems to slow down. Even in the Church, there are a few important feasts that are celebrated throughout the summer months, but we begin our long, slow slog through Ordinary Time with nothing much to celebrate. It seems like it could be a time to kick back and relax, but there are still important things going on; even if just below the surface.
I was raised up in the northern area of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and while I was not raised on a farm, I certainly knew lots of farmers, for farming dominated the town culture. Certainly the busier times revolved around both planting and harvest time, at least if you did not have a dairy herd that needed milking every day; so the summer months were more about tending to other things on the farm and in town, the crops seemed to take care of themselves, in some ways.
But there is much going on under the surface that we cannot ignore. The corn the slowly sprouts so that it is just above the knee at the Fourth of July is suddenly, just a few short weeks later, sprouting ears that will bear much fruit. But it can only bear this fruit because it has sunk the roots deep into the soil, to pull forward the nutrients and water that will allow it to thrive.
In much the same way, our spiritual life takes on these same strides. The growth and depth that takes root during the cycle through Lent and Easter allows us to continue to bear fruit, spiritually, into the long slog through Ordinary Time in the summer months. This is the time when the roots of our soul reach down into the depths of our relationship with Christ, so that we can continue to journey with Him into the future.
The challenge is making this happen. As we take breaks for our ‘regular life’ during these summer months, we can also be tempted to take breaks from our spiritual life as well. The lovely evenings outside might break our habit of prayer, the allurement of vacations can interrupt even the most dedicated.
However, some of my favorite memories as a child revolve around the trips we would take during the summer. Attending Mass at a mission parish near where we would camp was a chance to experience the beauty of the Catholic Church in a much different way than we would at our home parish. The time spent driving (I have five siblings, so we only flew to vacation once.) was often accompanied by reciting the rosary together and we never started out the trip without asking for both Mary’s and St. Christopher’s (the patron of travelers) intercession and guidance.
These little steps helped me, even as a youngster, to realize that the faith was something alive and not just something that we do as a convenience. It informed so much of who we were (and are) as a family.
As those crops grew silently during those long summer days, our faith can do so as well with just a few small steps to nourish us along the way.
Father Schnippel is the archdiocesan vocation director.