Summer Worship: How to Stay in Faith and on Point
Something beautiful happens when we place ourselves in front of the Lord — and give back to those around us
Summer should be a golden opportunity to slow down and recharge one’s physical and spiritual batteries.
Family vacations, camps for the kids, physical fitness and activity, and perhaps long-put-off chores and projects around the house or apartment will fill part of the summer schedule. But we faithful should focus as well on our one-on-one relationship with God — and perhaps give back to the community, too.
Here are a few ideas that might be helpful.
1.) ‘Waste’ time with Jesus. Yes, go to your local chapel and hang out with Our Lord.
Blessed Paul VI reminds us, “There is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road of holiness, than having conversation with Christ in the Eucharist.”
Something beautiful happens when you place yourself in front of Our Lord, and there is nothing more refreshing and restorative for a tired soul. Words are not even necessary — let Jesus love you. Allow His grace to console you.
2.) Read sacred Scripture. It's not about reading the entire Bible cover to cover; focus on the four Gospels and let Jesus speak to your heart.
Read a paragraph, see what the Holy Spirit emphasizes to you personally, chew on it, and see how this can be applied to your life. Jesus is so happy when we try to assimilate and absorb His words, and He blesses this effort tremendously.
3.) Pray the rosary, or at least a decade of it each day. There is a reason the phrase "to Jesus through Mary" is so memorable. Jesus cannot say "no" to His mom … and this prayer is the most effective way to gain her intercession.
There is something soothing and mentally relaxing about going through the beads, and I know so many Type A business leaders in Manhattan and other major cities who find this particular daily prayer incredibly therapeutic and comforting.
4.) Engage in spiritual reading or read literary fiction that inspires. "The Story of a Soul" by St. Thérèse of Lisieux and "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis (and any of his other books) would be a good start, but I am also a fan of literary fiction that embodies deep character lessons for life.
A few that I have read lately are "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë, "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr (a Pulitzer Prize winner), "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson (also a Pulitzer winner), and "The Road to Character" by David Brooks.
Selfless people are happy people, and summer can be a beautiful time to create this disposition.
5.) Enjoy nature. Go to your local park, walk the trails without phone or gadgets, and soak in the silence and beauty of the landscape.
Close your eyes and listen to the birds chirping, the wind whistling and the water churning. God created this playground, and He wants all of us to enjoy it.
6.) Find time for a weekend retreat. Just as you need a weekend getaway with your spouse or loved one to reconnect and reignite that first love, make space to renew your love for Christ. Go in with an open mind and heart — ask Him to challenge you to grow.
As a priest, every year I do an eight-day retreat in silence, with directed meditations. There are always significant takeaways, but, more importantly, my heart is kindled to love Christ more and put His interests in front of my own.
7.) Give back to your local community. There is so much joy in giving, and one often discovers the hidden face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. Serve at a soup kitchen or visit an aging loved one. If you need other ideas, Google your diocesan website under Catholic Charities, and a plethora of opportunities will appear. Selfless people are happy people, and summer can be a beautiful time to create this disposition.
Never mind spring-cleaning, car and house maintenance, careful dieting, annual physical check-ups and more. Are taking care of your soul, the spiritual force upon which everything else depends? Are you trying to grow your personal relationship with Our Lord, the One with whom you will spend your eternity, you hope?
Make it happen this summer.
Fr. Michael Sliney is a Catholic priest based in the New York City area and an adviser to the Lumen Institute, a professional business group.