You’re on vacation, zip open your suitcase and slap your forehead when you realize that you forgot to pack your sunhat, flip-flops, band-aids, and lipstick taser. Don’t fret, its normal, and there’s always the souvenir shop with the 200% mark up that will gladly sell you what you should’ve packed in the first place.
Since Catholics are normal people, we tend to get distracted from the essential things when the sun is shining, birds a-chirping and the trees are green. This is a friendly reminder and a short list of tips so that we can stay on top of the five most neglected Catholic things in the summer:
1. Eucharist. Vacation doesn\’t mean we’re exempt from the Third Commandment to Honor the Lord God on Sabbath Day. Canon law 1247 and 1248 summarily teach that it is a mortal sin to willfully neglect our Sunday obligation, but we are excused if due to “grave cause,” participation in the Eucharist is impossible. Necessary travel can fall under this situation, but optional vacations do not. Since the Catholic Church is universal, chances are there’s one very close to our vacation spot and chances are there is a Mass every two hours at least. For a complete list of the Mass schedules around the world, visit www.masstimes.org. St. John Paul II said, “In order to gain eternal life, man needs the Eucharist.” St. John Vianney exhorts us, “All the good works of the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men. Mass is the work of God.”
2. Modesty. Whoo-wee. It’s ninety degrees outside and most of us forget (or want to forget) to put clothes on. We’re tempted to think swimwear-inspired outfits are interchangeable with Sunday best, or acceptable for everywhere else that heat can penetrate through. But keep in mind that we are temples of the Holy Spirit and we shouldn’t encourage lustful glances at the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to wear feathers, silly! Loose, cotton material will keep us cool. “We must practice modesty,” said the lawyer St. Alphonsus Ligouri, “not only in our looks, but also in our whole deportment, and particularly in our dress, our walk, our conversation, and all similar actions.”
3. Our children’s spiritual lives. Summer is fun, yay! But we don’t have to run ourselves ragged and sign the kids up for every camp, every sport, ever lesson. Let’s be selective of the activities our children are involved in and mind those Vacation Bible Schools. Just because they’re labeled “Christian” doesn’t mean they won’t be teaching our children heresies or aren’t working actively to recruit members for their Church. Since the devil thrives in the heat of summer, it\’s not wise to take a vacation from our children’s spiritual formation. Take them to Mass, Confession, or a pilgrimage. St. Damien Molokai wrote, “A parent’s first duty is to provide for their children. I have the obligation of giving my children, newly born of water and the Holy Spirit, the things that are necessary for spiritual life.”
4. Good Reads. Every bookstore will be featuring a bevy of beach umbrella reads. Media marketing has conditioned us to believing that it’s negligible to escape into novels that Catholic eyes shouldn’t be reading and Catholic wallets shouldn’t be supporting. St. John Bosco advised: “Never read books you aren’t sure about…even supposing that they are very well written from a literary point of view…would you drink something you knew was poisoned if it was offered to you in a golden cup?” Good news: we have access to a vast Catholic library and the Bible doesn’t have to collect dust in our shelves! There are saints’ books on Theology, spirituality, private revelation and contemporary Catholic writers who have a treasure of wisdom to share for this modern age.
5. Beach Weddings. Well, who doesn’t love a beautiful, romantic wedding, right? Think of all that vanilla frosting, the band music, bubbling champagne, and the reunions! Alas, we Catholics are not free to randomly RSVP to every single invitation. Sorry to be a party pooper, but Catholics are advised to refrain from attending a non-Catholic wedding ceremony of a Catholic because this is equivalent to condoning sin. Catechism 1868 states that we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them: by participating directly and voluntarily in them; by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them. It’s not “judging,” it’s saving our souls from moral culpability. For more information and discernment on this, consult your pastor.
Have a blessed, fun summer, and don’t forget to lather on sunblock.
© 2014 Anabelle Hazard. All rights reserved.