When I think back to my childhood years, I remember fondly the months of summer when I was out of school (All Right!) And finally had all my time to myself. No more assignments, no more textbooks, no more awful school lunches. I was free, and my time was my own. Of course, there were trips (yay!), family visits, and the obligatory summer reading list, but on the whole, I had globs of free time with which to play.
Since human nature remains the same, I'm sure that there are many youth who feel exactly that way at this moment, when they have just recessed from school for the summer months. For many students this year, the school year just ended, and so that precious independence summer time just started. What to do? Embrace a summer job? Go on that trip you've been planning for some time? Hang out with friends? Drive our parents crazy?
One thing that should not be forgotten is your spiritual life. Your faith is not purely a Sunday commitment, nor is it an outfit that you put on only when you go to school - your faith is deeply rooted and is part of what makes you who you are.
It is a basic human necessity, similar to the need to eat, sleep, and breathe. Without the presence of God in our lives, we are dead - God is the giver of all life because He is life (unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. [John 6:53]).
Your religion classes may be out for the summer, but the practice of your faith is always growing and God needs to be a part of your growth! He created you and knows all your needs - He sent His Son to us so that we could have a personal relationship with Him, not a distant one.
Here are my suggestions for incorporating your faith into your summer:
- Keep going to Mass. The alarm is going to ring, and you may not feel like getting out of bed to sit through another boring homily. Hey! How do you know what the Spirit might be saying to you through the person of His priest? How do you know what God may be trying to tell you through His Scriptures? You can't learn if you don't listen. Besides its not every day you receive God Himself in the Eurcharist!
- Don't give up your prayer life. You may have had a long, busy day and feel like crashing on your bed. Did you stop and think about what God may have done for you today? Did you take time to thank Him? How can God remain in contact with you if you won't talk to Him?
- Exercise your Christianity! In order to stay in shape for your sports team in the fall, you have to exercise and work out. Don't let your Christian identity get rusty! Find some time to engage in charitable activities. You have all that time to yourself B don't be selfish with it! Lend a hand at a soup kitchen; clean out your closets and give some clothes to the poor; volunteer at a local community center. Let Christ shine through you!
- Get away from everything. Since summer is the time for retreating from the school atmosphere, why not take the time to get away on retreat? Look for a real retreat center (most are situated in beautiful, quiet, out-of-the-way places) and visit. Take some time to think about your life, about God, and about anything.
- Have fun! It's important to recharge your batteries before returning to school. Get together with friends and have fun, but remember that "fun" things can sometimes get you into trouble, or make you out to be someone you are not. Keep our conscience clean, and the Spirit will lead you places you never thought you'd go!
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