Tips for a Happy Summer
“I had noted down some remarks of St Teresa of Avila: ‘All that passes away and is not pleasing to God, is worth nothing, and less than nothing.’ Now do you understand why a soul loses all sense of peace and serenity when it turns away from its goal, and forgets that it was created by God to be a saint? Strive never to lose this supernatural outlook, not even at times of rest or recreation, which are as important in our daily lives as is work itself.”
ST. JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA
Friends of God, 10
In the homily for St Josemaria’s Mass of Canonization, Pope John Paul II quoted from a meditation given by the Founder of Opus Dei, which I would like to refer to here. “‘The ordinary life of a Christian who has faith, when he works or rests, when he prays or sleeps, at all times, is a life in which God is always present’ (Meditation, 3 March 1954). This supernatural vision of life unfolds an extraordinarily rich horizon of salvific perspectives, because, even in the apparently monotonous flow of normal earthly events, God comes close to us and we can cooperate with his plan of salvation. So it is easier to understand what the Second Vatican Council affirmed: ‘there is no question, then, of the Christian message inhibiting men from building up the world … on the contrary it is an incentive to do these very things’ (Gaudium et Spes, no. 34).”
Following the teaching of this holy priest, I repeat, all honest human activities can be offered to God, sanctified, and turned into a means and opportunity for apostolate. Work, … but also rest, which we need in order to renew our strength so that we can support our families and serve society.
I think this consideration is especially important right now when many of you are preparing to enjoy a well-deserved holiday. Bear in mind that, when we are on holiday, we still need to live with our minds and hearts on our Lord.
I will offer some specific suggestions to help you ensure that this time contributes to the spiritual growth of each of us and does not result, as is unfortunately often the case, in a cooling-down of our Christian life. In the first place, we need to continue to fulfill our ordinary Christian duties:
- going to Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation;
- receiving the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation;
- keeping up the good habits we have built up during our working year –
- regular prayer,
- attendance at Christian formational activities, etc.
Obviously, it is not a good idea to choose holiday destinations in places where a good Christian – or indeed any decent person – should never go, because they are objectively contrary to the dictates not just of Christian morality but basic natural morality. We all need to be firm in taking this kind of decision, swimming against the current whenever necessary. Like that, you will help your relations, and others, to look for healthy relaxation as God’s children should. It isn’t true that in order to enjoy holidays, one has to get away from our Lord. In fact, exactly the opposite is the case.
Finally, I’d like to recall a very specific point from St Josemaria’s teachings about the sanctification of rest. It can be summed up in some words he often said: “Rest means recuperation: to gain strength, form ideals and make plans. In other words it means a change of occupation, so that you can come back later with a new impetus to your daily job.” (Furrow, no. 514.) This view of it is true: just changing one’s work, surroundings, and circumstances, is a substantial help in recovering strength.
As well as this, I think that we have a duty to accompany the Holy Father, by praying for his intentions every day, so that he feels the support of the filial closeness of each and every one of us. Wanting to live our Christian lives well means not separating ourselves from the teachings of the Good Shepherd who is at the head of the Holy Church.
(This article is taken from Bishop Javier Echevarria’s homily for the Feast of St. Josemaria Escriva, June 26, 2010.)