Right now we stand at a key juncture in both the academic year as well as the liturgical year. Everywhere there is a change in our activities, a time to rest from studies and to enjoy some vacation from work and to engage in new occupations.
The Lord’s Ascension marks the end of His incarnational bodily presence with us here below, while we await the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The whole Church is also about to “rest” from the rigor of the Lenten Season and the intense joy of the Paschal Season, and to enjoy a series of special solemnities as we transition into Ordinary Time.
The rhythm of the academic year is coming to a close as many students find themselves in the midst of exam periods, graduations, and the closing out of the school year in general. (Last minute registration to Universitas 2015 (May 24 – 28) still available for college students who want a few days in the Catskills with Jesus before the summer begins! e-mail Fr. Brian: firstname.lastname@example.org.) So too in these days, many sacraments are bestowed throughout the Church ranging from children receiving First Holy Communion and youth being marked with the Holy Spirit at Confirmation, all the way to the fulfillment of vocational discernment in Holy Matrimony or Priestly Ordination. Let us not grow weary in doing what is right. (Gal. 6:9a)
Everywhere we find that just after one major moment of celebration and hard work, new summer adventures are about to begin. But you, brothers, do not be remiss in doing good. (2 Thess 3:13)
Vacations are important and valuable times to be together with friends and family, to develop new interests and skills, and to experience a time of rest and freedom from the weight of responsibilities. Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil. (1 Peter 2:16a)
We betray the value of summertime if we misunderstand “rest” and put down our guard carelessly. The Christian life is to be nourished by all authentically human activities. These adventures should help us to find God in creation (lightening bugs in the back-yard! the stars! the beach! the mountains!), to apply ourselves to the good (community service, summer camps, out-door sports), and to let us reflect on the past year and consider the year ahead (my major? my career track? my vocation?). But make sure that this liberty of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak. (1 Cor 8:9)
Like the farmer who looks out at his field at the beginning of summer and wonders about all the days ahead before harvest in the late fall…so too, must we keep our eyes on the goal even in summer days. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. (Gal. 6:9) After all, our “harvest” is not merely the fruit of agriculture, but the harvest of our lives.
Choices and habits, adventures and risks, good friendships and bad friendships: all of these seemingly small incidents throughout our summer can orient us dramatically in the way we live the rest of our lives—for good and for ill.
So don’t forget Jesus during the summer vacation. Every Sunday He awaits us, and His parishes have scheduled Masses everywhere you go—even at the beach. For, He is the one who longs to give us joy in this life and in the next by living close to Him.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light. (Matt 11:28-30)