My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Summer vacations are times when we can truly recreate. Not in the sense of physical enjoyment but rather in the sense of re-creation from which the word comes. Yes, summer is a time when we need to re-create the image of God that has been placed in us from our Baptism. We need time and distance upon occasion in order to take stock and rededicate ourselves to our life’s calling. Vacations are times away from our daily work where we can reflect on its true meaning, recharge our batteries, if you will, and return to our life’s work renewed with vim and vigor.
My hope is that this summer is giving you the opportunity to re-create yourself again. Do not forget to put yourselves in God’s presence. God is always present to us, but we sometimes forget that God surrounds us at all times in our lives. Vacation-time gives us that extra bit of leisure when we can contemplate the beauty of nature wherever we find it. It is the reflection of the Creator’s love for us. Those extra moments, minutes and hours of free time should be dedicated to some spiritual development and progress. Although most of the time we must find the presence of God in our busy daily lives, vacations offer us the unique opportunity to experience God’s presence at a time when we are usually close to family and friends enjoying well-deserved rest.
Summertime and its holiday atmosphere many times becomes an opportunity for some to take a vacation from attending Sunday Mass. It certainly is a bad choice to make considering all the options for attending Mass available to us during the summer, when we often have more time. It is true that many times a great effort is made despite some inconvenience in order to reach the place where Mass is celebrated, and, to be sure, not all churches are air-conditioned. Yet, we need to encourage people to attend Mass during the summer. Occasionally, such as this time of year, it is good to remind ourselves of how we can improve.
It would be good to be mindful of the special circumstances that our summer living presents us. Very frequently I receive comments regarding the attire at attendance at Masses during the summer months. Our society in general has become much more casual. “Dress Down Days” at places of work are very common. However, we cannot allow our culture’s casualness to become the norm for our dress at our liturgies. Notwithstanding that, as Catholics we tend to dress down as we attend church, while others dress up. Our dress should be in keeping with the reverence for the liturgies that we attend.
Certainly the summer, especially at the shore, might be an occasion for more casual dress. It would be a good rule of thumb, however, to keep in mind, “Would we appear at any important function dressed the way we are?” Beach attire should not be church attire. Common sense rules of modesty certainly should apply to our attendance at church.
I hope that this summer you will have the opportunity to take a vacation. If it has not yet occurred, I hope you enjoy it when it does happen. Vacations are opportunities to really “put out into the deep,” not only if you are on a boat, but also when you leave the familiar for some new experience on vacation. I, myself, will take a two-week vacation this summer, and I pray that your vacation has been or will be a time of re-creation for yourself and your families.