Summer Pastoral Letter

On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation. Genesis 2:2-3

The Word of God tells us that God rested on the seventh day from all the work he had been doing. And because he blessed the seventh day and made it holy we likewise “keep the Sabbath holy” and rest from all the work we do. Of course, that is contingent on whether or not our employer gives us weekends off, and we don’t cram the weekend with too many activities. When we do honor the Sabbath by refraining from unnecessary work we discover why God rested on the seventh day. God being God did not need to rest on the seventh day. God rested on the seventh day so that we might do as he did, because we are not God, and we do tire and need rest.

But, what about vacations? Although the Book of Genesis makes no mention of God taking vacation time, the gospels do tell us of Jesus taking time away from his mission and the disciples to pray and connect with the Father. So, even our vacation time can be blessed and made holy if we take the right approach.

One of the things that can help make our vacations holy is to pay attention to our surroundings. The world is a beautiful place and in the busyness of our daily lives we often take it for granted. Vacation time offers us opportunities to immerse ourselves in nature, different cultures, and interesting cities and countries. But even when we’re on vacation we may be missing the point. Instead of trying to see Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower all in one day, it might be better to see only two of those sites and spend some time doing what the French do well, watching the world go by as we drink some coffee on a sidewalk café.

Another thing that can make our vacations holy is to take some time feeding our soul. With the down time that vacations afford us, we can feed our soul by reading a book, or taking a class or workshop in something that we find interesting but never have the time for. We can play the tourist in our own city and go see some great art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Millennium Park offers free concerts in all musical styles all summer long. These types of experiences not only help to break the routine of life, they can often expand our minds and offer us new insights that may be helpful in dealing with our regular routines.

And finally, our vacations can be holy if we are truly present to our families, friends and loved ones. We spend more time with these people when we are on vacation, but are we truly being present to them and fully appreciating their love and friendship? Every year before the school breaks for summer vacation I tell our school children the same thing; to pull themselves away from their phones, tablets and video games to enjoy not only the places they will travel to but the people they will be traveling with as well. Sadly, we adults need to do the same. Spending time together and being present to each other is not the same thing.

Whether you are traveling half way around the world or you’re doing a staycation this summer, your vacation time can be a blessed and holy experience if it is approached with the right perspective. I pray that this summer affords all Saint Andrew families time of rest filled with joy, peace, and the love of family and friends. May you travel in safety. May Christ be your boon companion. And at the end of your journey may Christ welcome you home.

Fr. Sergio Romo

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