Summer time is just around the corner! The days are getting longer, children are coming to the end of their school year, and warmer days are on the way. Many parishes also bring their catechism classes to a conclusion in the month of May, often with the celebrations of the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation. That being said, the catechist led lessons and homework are soon coming to a close. To add to that, the kick-back and relax attitudes that come with summer are on their way as well. They don’t call them the “dog days of summer” for nothing!
However we should never take the kick-back and relax attitude with our faith! After all, our Lord said to the church in Laodicea “So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). Instead of resting from faith formation in the summers, what a perfect time to learn and grow more! Children have more relaxed schedules and so more time to dive into new topics, explore new devotions and read more about the Church and Her saints!
Here are just a few ideas of ways to continue to build the faith life of your family during the summer months:
Our prayer lives are often one of the first casualties of the summer mentality. We tend to stay up late, then sleep in late to make up for being tired, and just in general, let our discipline of prayer fade into the background of summer outings and gatherings. Here are some ideas of how you can summer-proof your prayer life:
• Attend daily Mass! There’s often more time in our schedules during the summer months and what a more perfect way to spend that time then at Mass. There you can unite your prayers with those of the entire Church and receive many graces through your reception of Our Lord in the Eucharist.
• Get up early to pray! The sun rises much earlier now and summer mornings are a glorious time to spend time with the Lord. Why not step outside in the morning to praise God in his beautiful creation! If you are taking a trip to the beach, the lake or mountains (or maybe live near one of these places) why not plan a sunrise Rosary one morning with your spouse and children?
• If you don’t pray it already, learn a morning offering and begin to pray it every day at the beginning of your day. Teach your children the morning offering and do it together as a family.
• Pray the Rosary! Pick a consistent time to pray the family Rosary together. You can also purchase Rosary audio cd’s to play in the car when traveling on summer vacations or just around town.
• Make a prayer calendar. Pick a different person each day of your summer break for your family to offer prayers and sacrifices for. Include family members, friends, teachers, neighbors and don’t forget to pray for the Holy Father, your bishop and parish priest!
When we think of summer we often think about the fact that school is out and there’s no homework. Of course this is true-and your children are glad that it is! However, the longer days and absence of school work gives us an added chunk of time where we can learn more about our Faith.
• The Catholic Church has given us an amazing gift in the lives of the Saints. There are many great books for both adults and children about the Saints – some can be found at The Catholic Company. You can also check out the Saints section at Catholic Inspired for some activities and crafts to do as well.
• Learn more about the Bible. Every morning-maybe while you eat breakfast or right after-read one story a day from your Bible. This is a great way to learn more about the Bible and all God has done for us!
• Pick up the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It may look large and daunting but you will be surprised how straightforward it is and easy to understand. Here is a link to it in English in case you don’t have a hard copy. Catechism of the Catholic Church.
During summer break why not reach out to others and show them the love that Our Lord and Our Lady have for them? You can probably think of people in your life that you can reach out to, but here are a few additional ideas:
• Visit someone who is lonely-maybe a grandparent, neighbor or someone in a nursing home or hospital.
• Write a letter to a friend or family member who live far away. Have your children design and create greeting cards to mail to loved ones.
• Help your children find a new way to help family members at home-maybe they can take on a new chore or try to teach a sibling something new.
• Invite a friend to Mass and over to eat afterwards.
When used wisely the internet can provide a wealth of positive activities for the summer time. Just remember to keep track of your time so you don’t get lost in the internet black hole!
• Sign up for an At Home Do-It-Yourself VBS with Holy Heroes. Go to the website, scroll to the bottom and click on Summer Faith Adventure. It’s free and fun!
• Go to Catholic Toolbox and pick a game to make and play.
• Go to Illuminated Ink and check out their awesome art supplies, craft kits, coloring posters and more. Be aware that their products do cost money.
The extra hours in your day can afford you and your children a great opportunity to put forth your creative juices into some pretty neat projects. While there are tons of projects of all types you can do, why not also incorporate your faith into some of those endeavors? Here are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
• Help your children make an altar somewhere in your home. If you have one in a central location already you can help them create a mini altar in their bedroom. Some items you may want to include would be a crucifix, images of Our Lord and Our Lady, a Bible, rosary, prayer cards and/or statues of Saints.
• Create a Mary garden in your front or back yard. You can look up “Mary gardens” online to get ideas.
• Make homemade rosaries. There are several ways you can do this. There are online directions for making ones with all types of materials – twine, precious metals, and craft beads.
• Create in the kitchen! There is a lot of fun to be had in the kitchen, especially when you incorporate the entire family. Online you can find ideas for faith-inspired recipes. At Catholic Cuisine there are tons of ideas for liturgically themed recipes.
So as you can see, there are so many ways we can continue to learn and grow in our faith in the summer months. The challenge may just be deciding which ones are for you and your family. Here’s one last idea to get ready for the amazing summer I pray you have-take your calendar in one hand and your rosary in your other. Kneel before Our Lady and offer a Rosary to her for the intention of your family’s summer plans. Ask her to help you plan your summer well and to not allow the summer to slip away without giving your all to Our Lord! Happy and holy planning!
Article contributed by Monica Martinez
Monica is a married mother of 6 in Florida who is an enthusiastic convert to the Catholic Church and a lay member of the Home of the Mother. For many years she was a teacher and counselor in the public school system but now she labors with love in her home teaching and counseling the hearts of her own children.