At the start of every summer I am hopeful. I always think that the summer months will be full of time to reflect, relax, and recollect. I assume I will have more time to pray. Time to be rejuvenated.
Because longer days should mean there's time to grow closer to God, right?
Yet I am often disappointed with my summertime spirituality. Perhaps it is the less-structured summer days. Or my kids' many activities which keep me preoccupied. Whatever it is, spending more time with God seems elusive, even after just a few weeks. How can we spiritually make the most of summer?
I've decided it comes down to being more deliberate.
I've given it some thought, and want to share with you five ways that many of us can try to make summer more spiritual:
1. Commit to a new daily prayer.
I know...summer is supposed to be our time to de-stress, unwind, and relax. Maybe even to let go of a few commitments. Yet, if we think about it, summer is also an opportunity to flex our spiritual muscles a little.
God has already given us His Spirit, a spirit of self-control and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). This summer we can ask Him to develop within us the fruits of self-discipline.
Choose a prayer to a special patron saint and say it daily this summer. (Hey, it's a chance to develop a closer bond with this particular saint!)
Maybe start by reading this blog post about discovering your own patron saint.
Or pray the Litany of Humility every day. Or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Whatever prayer it is, adding a new one this summer will bring a fresh perspective and help to put a daily focus on God for the next few months.
It can be a short prayer, a simple one. The point is to inspire, not to overwhelm!
2. Tell God you are sorry.
Get to confession this summer. Before going, think about the past year. Think about next year.
Although January marks the beginning of the calendar, many of us think of summer (and the old school year) as the end of one year, and Autumn as the start of the next year.
How do we want things to be different? What are some of the things that have prevented us from being the person God created us to be? Take a little time this summer to evaluate how things are going. Where are we weak? What is the sin that continues to be an obstacle for our spiritual progress? What can we let go of to grow closer to Christ this summer?
I always love starting each school year fresh with new books and folders, and with a heart eager to do better in the coming days. Summer can be that way, too. It can be a time to refresh and ask God to forgive us and give us His grace so that we can attain deeper growth.
3. Make a Holy Hour.
A friend asked me last week if I could take her Adoration hour. It was a Wednesday hour, at 1:30 pm...the middle of the day. With young children still at home, and with my schedule as busy as ever, I thought, "How can I do this?" But the word yes was out of my mouth before I could think anymore about it. (Must have been my guardian angel.)
I arranged for the child-care that was needed and got to the church a little early. The hour with Our Lord went by so fast that I stayed another fifteen minutes, not wanting to leave. I left determined to make another Holy Hour soon. In fact, I would like to make it a regular part of my weekly routine this summer.
How about you? Have you been to Adoration lately? Could you commit to an hour this summer?
4. Be grateful.
Summer goes by quickly. Before we know it, we are back to school, sports, and other activities that crowd our days during the year. Summer is the time to be grateful for the many gifts God has given us. We just have to look around.
The other day it rained, and then it poured. Few clouds were in the sky when the day began, but as it progressed, dark clouds loomed until they burst open with a flood of spring rain. Quickly, the rain slowed to a mist and then stopped all together. The smell of the wet ground filled the air and in the sky above, a double-rainbow appeared. Looking up at the beautiful colors above the clouds, I was grateful.
Sometimes we forget to reflect on all that we have. Summer is full of blessings: the smell of fresh-cut grass, the sound of children laughing, ripe fruit in abundance...there are so many things we can easily overlook. Don't let these blessings pass by unnoticed!
5. Read the Psalms.
Continuing the theme of #4, we can discover words of gratitude when we read the Psalms. Here's an idea: read one psalm every day for the rest of the summer! For a helpful book on reading through the Psalms, check out The Navarre Bible: The Psalms and The Song of Solomon.
Here is a beautiful psalm of David:
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say,“His steadfast love endures forever.”Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me? The Lord is on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
All nations surrounded me;in the name of the Lord I cut them off!They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the Lord I cut them off!They surrounded me like bees; they blazed like a fire of thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly; the right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. The Lord has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death.
Open to me the gates of righteousness,that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered meand have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has given us light.Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;you are my God, I will extol you.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,for his steadfast love endures forever.
Are there things you do to nourish your soul in the summer months?
Are you able to rest your weary spirit, as well as your body?