The final bell rings marking the end of the school year-and the mad rush for the exits ensues. Many of us can remember that highly anticipated and energetic time of our youth. It is a time of hope for a new day, a time of planning on summer camps, a time of family vacations. And so often, we also think of it as a time to take vacation from Church…
Interestingly, the Church offers a Fast at the beginning of this time of year-the Apostles’ Fast. It is a time that is so often neglected in our family life here in the United States and Canada. And yet, it is a time that can be the greatest blessing to recharge our spiritual batteries and prepare for the family vacation season.
When we fast, we set aside the time to care for our relationship with God. When we fast, we take the time to deny the self, and thus strengthen our ability to say “YES” to God-uniting our will to His Will. When we fast, we remind ourselves that there is something more important than immediate gratification.
The question remains: How do we fast and still have a family vacation? Family time-including taking a vacation together-is vital to the health of our relationship with our loved ones. There is nothing more important than keeping the Gift of the Family healthy and whole and dedicated to God. That does not mean that to be a healthy family, an extravagant trip is needed. How healthy is it to take a “vacation” from the one thing that nourishes us as a family: Christ? How healthy can it be to remove ourselves from the one place where Jesus Christ is revealed in His Fullness: the Divine Liturgy? This week, as the summer planning sessions are beginning in earnest, let us take some time to prioritize our family life so that our summer vacations can reflect our values in Christ. When we set our family time priorities, it is important to list them in the same manner as our personal ones, keeping in mind the one thing needful: Our Relationship with Christ! Each family should take some time to determine what is truly important to them.
Father Christopher Rocknage, Harrisburg, PA