By Colleen Pressprich
Summer brings with it such joy. Children celebrate being free from the confines of the school schedule. The days grow longer and the sunshine lasts past bedtime, which always seems to inch later and later as June progresses. As a parent, I love the joy my children find in summer and how that joy saturates every aspect of our family’s life, including our faith. Summer is a wonderful opportunity to grow faith. To that end, here are a few of my favorite summer activities that help us infuse the natural joy of the season into our domestic church.
Attend Daily Mass
Most daily Masses at parishes are either first thing in the morning or over the lunch hour, which means that they are not accessible for many families with school-aged children for nine months of the year. But summer can be a wonderful opportunity to get to daily Mass, even once a week.
I personally love taking my children to daily Mass and wish we could make it work more often than we do. Daily Mass is shorter and more sparsely attended - this means that my kids find it easier to pay attention (we can sit right up front!) and are more connected.
Spend Time with the Lord in Adoration
Another great activity to add to your summer routine is adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Check out when your parish has holy hours and commit to spending even a little while with the Lord each week. It can feel daunting at first to take children into a silent chapel to pray, but I have always found that the people who are seeking God’s Face in the Eucharist are thrilled to have the little children there, even if they are a little wiggly.
I pack a bag with some Catholic coloring pages, a few crayons, and a couple of their favorite books, and then we settle into a pew up front. We spend a few minutes whispering hellos to Jesus together, and then I explain that I am going to speak with Him in my heart, and that they can do the same as they look at books and color.
We stay until they are no longer able to be quiet and peaceful, but as they get used to the practice, I have found that our visits naturally lengthen over time.
Visit a New Church
Summer is often a time when families travel, and whether you’re going on a day trip close by or on a vacation to a place entirely new, it can be a chance to explore a new church. The Catholic Church is such a big, beautiful tent. I love when we get to experience the differences and notice the similarities that exist in different geographic locations.
When we are in a new town, it’s fun to visit the local parish. Ideally, we like to attend Mass there, but even if we can’t, we spend a little bit of time exploring the church. We look at the statues and compare them to the ones at our own parish. We talk about the stained-glass windows. We read any historical signs we see. We light a candle and stop and pray.
Cultivate a Mary Garden
In our family, summer means gardening, both vegetables and flowers, and while we are blessed to have a large yard with many different places to plant, the favorite space is the Mary Garden.
Creating a Mary garden can be as simple as finding a small statue of Our Lady (like the one from your nativity set), placing it in a pot, and planting some brightly colored flowers around it. Or it can become something grander - maybe your family wants to have a larger statue in a garden bed. You can even do some research and choose flowers for your garden that symbolize Mary - there are so many to choose from.
I hope that your family has a joyful (and restful!) summer exploring the world and your faith.