Seeking Spiritual Refreshment during Summer Ordinary Time

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Photo copyright 2016 Tiffany Walsh. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright 2016 Tiffany Walsh. All rights reserved.

This is the span in the liturgical calendar that I call “High Ordinary Time.” It is the longest stretch of Ordinary Time that we experience, given that the beginning of this season is broken up by Lent back in the late winter/early spring. Once Pentecost is over in late spring, we hang out in Ordinary Time until Advent begins in late November or early December. This summer season is also a time of our daily routines changing, and lots of family activities in the form of milestone parties, swimming and outdoor barbecues. Prayer and our spiritual lives may start to take somewhat of a back seat during this stretch. What I have come to find out through the years, though, is that summer Ordinary Time can be anything BUT ordinary. In my experience, two ways of breathing spiritual life into our summers are the following:

(1) Asking for the intercession of our friends, the saints – The summer is jam packed with saint feast days, and as such is a perfect time for novenas. Are you worried about the upcoming school year? Perhaps your child is starting kindergarten, going to a new school, or embarking on homeschool for the first time? A family crisis of another sort is brewing? The summer is a great time to find a friend amongst our great cloud of witnesses in heaven, and pray for their intercession. In July we have the feasts of St. Mary Magdalene, Sts. Joachim and Anne, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Christopher. How perfect is St. Christopher for summer travel, yes?! August features St. Dominic, St. John Vianney, St. Edith Stein, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Rose of Lima, and every mother’s favorite saint – St. Monica, along with her once wayward son, St. Augustine. This is just a small sampling of the feast days that fall during the summer!

I use my parish calendar, as well as an extensive liturgical calendar that Tan Books publishes each year, to highlight the feast days I want to make special note of. Both of my children have patron saints whose feasts fall in the summer, so last year I prayed a separate novena for each of them. As for this year, I just finished praying the St. Maria Goretti novena (patron of young women, forgiveness and chastity), leading up to her feast day of July 6th. I am now in the middle of one of my all-time favorites, the St. Kateri Tekakwitha novena (patron of ecology and the environment), and we will celebrate her feast day on July 14th. For both of these novenas, I am praying for the intentions of a close friend of mine as part of a “Secret Prayer Santa” group that a handful of us came up with – we used a gift exchange website to draw a random name and pray for that person this month. Praying for someone else is really helping to keep me focused and disciplined in prayer this summer.

(2) A short pilgrimage, even to a local shrine or other holy site – I am not what one would call a world traveler. I have traveled domestically, but I have never been abroad. There are MANY destinations I would love to see, either on vacation or on pilgrimage, but for the time being that is not an option for me. This year I told my husband that over the summer, I really wanted to visit the National St. Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine. It is only a few hours by car from our home, and I thought it would be a lovely family day trip. In June, we were able to make this happen.

The experience was quite transforming. St. Kateri Tekakwitha is a very important part of my family heritage and faith life, and being at her shrine, located near where she once lived, made me feel very close to her. There was a peace permeating the space that harkened my mind and heart to God. I am constantly in awe of my family in faith, both on earth and in heaven, and it is one of my very favorite parts of my Catholic identity.

This example involved us driving for several hours, but one could easily have just as lovely an experience by visiting a church or other holy place within an hour of your home. There is a shrine to Our Lady of Fatima about 35 minutes from where we live, and each time I go there, I see it through fresh eyes. The experience never gets old.

Over the summer, I always endeavor to recharge my emotional and spiritual batteries, in preparation for the busyness that autumn always brings. Given the way that summer often unfolds, however, I was finding that I rarely took the time out to relax and pray. The past few years I have made a specific effort to make the summer spiritually refreshing, in a quite extraordinary experience of Ordinary Time.

Photo copyright 2016 Tiffany Walsh. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright 2016 Tiffany Walsh. All rights reserved.

Now it is your turn: how do you keep your spiritual life vibrant in the summertime? Do you pray a specific novena each summer, or have you gone to any shrines or holy sites? Are you game to try the Secret Prayer Santa? I would love to hear from you!

Copyright 2016 Tiffany Walsh

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About Author

Tiffany is a wife and mother to two precious children, a native Western New Yorker, and an academic librarian. She is a cradle Catholic who rekindled her childhood faith as a graduate student in New York City via her love of books and discovery of daily Mass. She enjoys using humor in her writing, and blogs about faith, books, and everything in-between over at lifeofacatholiclibrarian.com.

13 Comments

  1. I have fallen in love with novenas this past year. Every time I pray one, I find myself learning more about that particular Saint. I also *love* our little novena group! I’m excited to start St. Anne with you ladies this weekend! That was one of the first I ever prayed.

  2. I’m still getting then hang of all things Catholic, lol, and didn’t notice the stretch of OT over the Summer. It’s almost like Summer is the liturgical Winter as we prepare for an exciting Spring of birth and beginnings with the Savior. Am I reading too much into it??? LOL

    St Jane France de Chantal’s feast day in August as well, I’m hoping to tie her into our Summer and I’m planning on making a cake for St Kateri’s day tomorrow. 😀 I love the idea of Secret Prayer Santa, what a neat idea! This post is just what I needed to zero in on keeping things alive while we all melt in the heat around here. lol

    • Hi Maggi, so nice to see you over here at Catholic Mom! GIRL, you are on fire for your faith, and I absolutely love it! I am with you 100% on the liturgical calendar interpretation – summer is our time of preparation for the busy autumn ahead, and on into Advent. And we need lots of prayer during this preparatory time!

      Yay for St. Jane Frances de Chantal’s upcoming feast day! You’ve really turned my mind and heart to her this summer – perhaps we could pray her novena together this August?

      • Why helloooooooo! lol

        I would love to do that in August! St Jane Frances is such an interesting person, she was someone I felt I could look up to (i.e. mom, wife, expert household handler, etc. lol) but also felt like someone that was in the same place I am. Both mentor and friend? That makes no sense but there it is. lol She also “pointed outward” and purposely looked for ways she could serve people outside of her “family bubble” so to speak. There are so many aspects to her character that I just find fascinating.

        • Maggi, this is awesome! Let me look up her feast day right now on my handy dandy calendar…

          *Jeopardy music plays*

          …it’s August 21st! So we would start her novena August 12th. Sounds like a plan! I’ll put up a page to the prayers on my blog. 🙂

          • Awesome!!! Is her feast day on the 12th or we start on the 12th? I’ve been seeing 8/12 as her feast day but I might be reading the wrong date?

  3. Thanks for giving me something to think about as a summer ‘project’ praying novena to the summer saints. I tend to gravitate to my old standbys when we have our whole host of heavenly friends to help us. I will be praying more novena.

    • Hi Donna! It would be great to have you join us in the novena bonanza. 😉 I do enjoy thinking about specific saints at this time of year, coordinating with their feast days. Makes the summer seem special in a new way, distinct from Advent and Lent, but with its own significance and meaning.

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