This past week, we officially entered into Summer, though many of us have already started our summer break from school. It is during these summer months that the great Twin Cities exodus begins. Bumper to bumper we sit on I-94, I -35, 169, creeping along like salmon trying to swim upstream. It won’t be long before David Attenborough and the BBC Planet Earth documentary crew will create an episode on this unique migration. Even to understand this, one needs a Minnesota-English dictionary! “Where are you going?” To which we reply vaguely “Up north!” To which the inquirer will reply, “Yes, but where up north?” And we reply “To the lake,” as if that is of any help to the listener.
It is our internally famous “cabin culture” that causes this weekly event. And it becomes an enjoyable time for many. However, there is a great temptation to see the time away at the cabin as being a time away from attending mass. We can think that because we are away from our regular parish, that it is no longer required to go to mass. This is not the case. We are the Catholic Church, which means we are just about everywhere on the planet (even Antarctica, but more about that in a later article).
Last Summer, Pope Francis was speaking in St. Peter’s Square and he said to the crowd that he knew the students were on their summer vacations and he said, “It’s important that in the period of rest and breaking away from daily concerns, you restore the energies of your body and soul, deepening your spiritual journey.” This holds true not only for the students, but for any of us on vacation, that we use our vacation time to also deepen our spiritual lives.
So, here are a few tips:
1. Find your local mass. We live in the “information age” and we have it all at our fingertips through our phones and our computers. It is easier now than ever to find a Catholic mass. Just download the app called “Mass Times for Travel” or go to the website https://masstimes.org/. Here you can put in a zip code and find the local mass and confession times. As Catholics, we are still required to go to mass on the weekends, so let’s not miss out on our greatest worship of God.
2. Pack your faith with your fishing gear! We will often make sure we have all of our fishing gear, but do we have a prayer gear? Bring along a Bible and get some reading by the lake! What better stop? Also, bring along your rosary that your mom gave you. If the fish aren’t biting, pray the rosary that they will.
3. Listen on the drive up. Rather than adding road-rage to your list of sins for confession while sitting in traffic, listen to Catholic media while in the car. There are dozens of apps that provide Catholic content, such as EWTN, Relevant Radio, Catholic Lighthouse Media, Focus on the Family, Adventures in Odyssey as well as many physical CDs that can be acquired. You will have a few hours to think about God and his love for you.
4. Talk about your faith with your family. It is the time in the car where we can become the most frustrated, so why not turn our conversation and our minds to the good things. Ask your children questions about what they are learning in religion classes. Tell about your faith that you experienced when you were young. Quiz the children on what Father’s homily was about last weekend (it will be a good refresher for you too!).
We have the great gift of vacations and weekends “up north.” So let us use them as God intended, to rest ourselves and deepen our relationship with God.
Fr Nathan LaLiberte