One of the best aspects of summer time is heading on vacation! Whether your vacation consists of visiting the relatives a few states away, a day or weekend trip, an epic trip halfway across the country or a week of relaxing at home on a “stay-cation,” it can be a great opportunity to relax, renew and rejoice in God’s creation. Vacations can set us free from our daily routines and provides us some needed perspective on life.
Why not make it a point to not leave your faith back at home, but rather, pack it along and find ways to incorporate it within the context of this experience? Pope Benedict XVI even shared with us back in 2011, “I would like to recommend that during this time of vacation that you revivify your spirit by contemplating the splendors of Creations.”
A trip that I am looking forward to later on this summer is when my family and I will pack up and head to Vermont, a 14-hour road trip, with my seven children as we embark on a weeklong reunion/vacation with two other Catholic families. We will have 19 children between the three families, and with some planning and preparing this gathering will be a great way to foster friendship and strengthen our faith lives. This will be our fourth summer doing this type of vacation, and what we are finding is that everyone loves it! The mothers of these other families are two friends I wrote about in my upcoming book entitled The Friendship Project, which is being released by Ave Maria Press in September.
Catholic Summer Vacation Suggestions
Consider implementing at least one of these points as a way to strengthen not only your faith life but the faith of your family members. When we go out of our way to honor God, He blesses our families and provides us with a more meaningful and enriching vacation experience. Even our Lord took time away from his busy life to be strengthened and renewed during his ministry.
- Daily Rosary- We typically say a Rosary when we are traveling in the car on vacation and make a real effort to say it at sundown the rest of the week. The setting sun provides such a beautiful and peaceful backdrop for reflecting on the gift of God’s creation and our many blessings.
- Exercise and Hiking- Whatever you do reconnect with nature. Get out and go for a hike, spend some time in nature and appreciate the vastly different landscape and makeup of where you are. Pope Benedict XVI shared this back in 2011, “Parents,” he said, “teach your children to see nature, respect and protect it as a magnificent gift that presents to us the grandeur of the Creator!”
- Develop friendships through having screen-free days! Turn off the wi-fi and turn on the memories! Social Media is a great way to share memories and experiences with friends and family members but consider “living it” instead of posting it. On some vacations, we lock the phones in the glove compartment so that we are all not tempted to allow our phones and devices to steal the experiences of vacation.
- Great Music Makes A Difference- Consider making fun travel playlists. Here is a sample playlist that combines Christian and secular music together. Music can lighten the mood and help set the tone for a great day! Consider having different family members work on family playlists to help introduce new music to each other.
- Invite Religious to join you! When gathering as families, we can forget to include the local priest to come for dinner, give a spiritual talk or attend Adoration. While I am in Vermont we will have two different local priests join our group for Mass and a meal. They both were so excited to be invited to be a part of this vacation experience.
- Bless It -No matter where you eat, remember to bless your food. If everyone loves pizza, I say, eat it at least twice on vacation! I have a friend who is a tight budget all year but loves to eat out every night of vacation and to them, that is what a vacation looks like. Make sure that no matter how you decide to “feed the masses” you give thanks to the one that provided all that we need. When we bless our food we not only invite God into our meal experience but show him our gratitude.
- Special touches- campfire, singing, board games, family poker games, walks on the beach, bike rides… Remember that vacation is also about setting aside special memories. Before you head out the door, remember to think about a few of the small details that will make a vacation special. For example, on a past vacation, I got everyone new drawing note pads, markers, beach towels, and beach toys and individual snack bags for the car trip.
- Sweets Sweeten the Heart– Ice cream is an excellent way to eat out and keep on a budget! My friend who was one of 9 children once said that they knew they were on vacation when they went out for ice cream!
- Set up the Logistics Ahead of Time-Nothing is worse than when you arrive at your destination after a long day of travel only to find out that you will be staying in the front living room for a week on an air mattress! Discuss the logistics of vacations ahead of time and let everyone know the “plan”. This helps people prepare for unique sleeping arrangements. Things like fans, ear plugs, noise machines and extra pillows and blankets sure help!
- Consider the 4 “P’s” of Vacation- First, make it a Pilgrimage, find places of faith to visit along the way, and invite Christ to join you on this epic family adventure. For example, we were traveling to Alabama for a beach vacation we went and visited Mother Angelica’s shrine, or on another trip while driving through upstate New York, we stopped and visited Saint Kateri’s shrine. When we choose to visit places of religious significance, we not only deepen our faith and appreciation but receive the graces we need to practice our faith. Second, don’t forget to Pray– consider the Angelus, pray with the Holy Scriptures, read a spiritual book, go to Mass, pray the Rosary and take time out to pray for those who have asked us to pray for them. This time of prayer can also be spent reflecting on God and all He has done for you and your family! Praise and Worship- Sing or play songs that praise God for all He has done; this type of prayer is powerful. When we praise God, we are thanking Him for His Goodness and the gift of Creation. Play– Play with your children and your husband; remember that vacation is a time to reconnect and develop meaningful and lasting relationships so that you can return to your life back at home renewed and recharged!
Happy Trails to You!
Copyright 2017 Emily Jaminet