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Rest, relaxation and time to spend with God

A wise priest I know once told me that sometimes the most important time of Mass happens 10 minutes before Mass begins, or 10 minutes after the final blessing.

He made use of that time before or after Mass to visit with people as they were coming or going from church. I saw the value in that practice and have tried every week to make sure that I do likewise.

After a recent Sunday Mass, I was visiting with a young person and her family. Like most kids, she is looking forward to the end of the school year and anticipating summer break. As our conversation continued, it soon became clear that “break” was perhaps too generous when it came to describing her summer. After listing the camps and other activities she has planned, I could see that for this young person, summer will be about exchanging one set of activities for another. For her, this summer will be about trading days filled with school work for days filled with different kinds of work – most of it fun, no doubt, but they will be days filled with activity. I hope those days also include some extra time spent with God.

As we make our way into the more relaxed days of summer, it’s important for all of us to remember that part of the joy of summer can be found in taking time for rest and recreation. Summer days provide the opportunity for God to recharge our batteries, so to speak. Slowing down to enjoy the beauty of these days allows us to enjoy the world which God created, in all its beauty.

These summer days also provide us with the opportunity to permit God to “re-create” us. The busy-ness of everyday life can make spending regular time with God a challenge. The hustle and bustle that can be part of other times of the year also places emotional demands on us. Spending time in God’s presence through prayer and participation at Mass can be a powerful and restorative experience. The summer may also provide us with the opportunity to make a retreat, spending a few days in a more concentrated experience of prayer. Summer can offer us the opportunity to re-establish a kind of balance that will see us through the more demanding times of the year.

I’m looking forward to this summer. In addition to the wedding rehearsals and weddings, the Sunday and daily Masses, and the other celebrations that will be part of parish life, I plan to make some extra time to spend with God. Mixed in with time for family, travel, ongoing formation, retreat and relaxation, I hope the extra time will be an opportunity for God to go to work on me, so God might continue to work through me. I pray this summer provides those same opportunities for all of us. And so our journey in FAITH continues.