By Anne Metz
After a long winter, it feels absolutely wonderful to get outside! Why not take this spring to grow in spirituality as a family? Here are a few outdoor Catholic activities to do together to both enjoy nature and to grow in faith.
Grab your rosary beads and head outside! Praying the rosary outside is a great way to enjoy the beautiful Earth God gave us and shake up our prayer routine a little. Hand the kids some sidewalk chalk and have them draw a rosary. Then walk or hop from chalk bead to chalk bead while reciting the prayers. If your children are very young, you may just want to opt for one decade at a time.
A Shrine in Your Own Garden
If you are looking for a big, ongoing outdoor project to do as a family, consider creating a shrine in your own garden. Pick a nice corner of your yard or a spot under a favorite tree and place a statue of a favorite saint. Plant flowers and maybe even build an enclosure for your saint. You could also add in a bench to sit and pray.
Go on an Outdoor Shrine Tour
Plan out an outdoor shrine tour. Many churches have outdoor statues and prayer spaces. Maybe some of your friends have a shrine in their garden as well. Plan a day to make a pilgrimage to visit as many as you can in a day. Before you go, create a checklist for your children with pictures of the saints you will see. As you are travel to each destination, tell your children some stories about the saint you are about to see. Or, have them bring along a book of saints and they can read to you on the drive.
Plant a Dogwood Tree
There is a legend that states the cross Jesus was crucified on was a dogwood tree. Whether that’s true or not, there is no denying that the flowers on a dogwood tree do make the shape of a cross. Plant a dogwood tree in your yard, and each spring you will be greeted with beautiful cross shaped blooms right around Easter. Make it a tradition to spend some time outside to enjoy the tree while it blooms and thank Jesus for the amazing sacrifice He made for us. Or take some time to read the Passion Story every Holy Week under its branches.
Go Hiking Like Pope Saint John Paul II
Did you know that Pope John Paul II was an avid outdoorsman who loved hiking, kayaking, and skiing? Spend time outside, enjoying nature and all the amazing things our bodies can do by hiking with your family. Plan a family trip to go skiing or rent some boats and head out on the lake. While you are out in nature, pray a prayer of gratitude with your family, thanking God for the beauty around you and for your healthy bodies! You can also take this time to learn more about the life of Pope Saint John Paul II.
Stations of the Cross
You don’t have to reserve praying the Stations of the Cross for just Lent, and you certainly don’t need to pray the Stations of the Cross inside. There is a retreat house near me that has outdoor Stations, and it is just lovely. Check in your area to see if something like that exists near you. Or, you could make your own! It’s as simple as printing out some coloring pages for your kids to color and taping them to sticks that you can put in the ground. Voila! Now you have your very own Stations of the Cross to pray as a family.
Whether you are happy to be outside to enjoy the warmer temperatures, or you are still keeping your distance due to Covid, these outdoor Catholic activities are fun, simple, and enjoyable for the whole family!