Yes, the school and university vacation times are upon us and hopefully for most of us [however humble the means] this period of recess can provide some opportunity for us as families to rest and recreate; to revive the drooping spirit, so to speak and get some refreshment of soul, mind and body. “Come away and rest a while” said the Lord to his disciples. He above all others knew only too well the need for “time out” from the demands of those around Him. And let’s face it, being busy literally saving humanity had to be the best reason ever to rest and get some peace.
I was pondering on this reality the other day when I came across this insight of the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen:
“We will never leave the world a better place until, through silence, contemplation and prayer, we improve ourselves. We must leave the world to help the world. This is when we learn of the terrible defeat and futility which come from excessive absorption in detail and action.”
There’s something striking about the futility of “excessive absorption in detail and action.” Seems to me that this so aptly describes the frenetic pace of modern day living these days and the pressures it can place upon all our relationships, but especially those within marriage and family, where the members can crave [often unheeded] the much needed attention of one another but don’t get it.
So I admire those families who can declare an internet-free and mobile phone-free zone for the duration of a family holiday if not an entire summer like this one has: Summer without an e-sitter
And if we aren’t able to factor in a little family pilgrimage to a shrine or a major solemnity or feast whilst we’re away (after all August has the Transfiguration and Assumption!) then let’s at least pledge to recite a decade of the Rosary daily on holiday as a family, at least to punctuate the time away with a contemplative intent. But how is such a disposition possible I hear you say, when there are so many demanding things to do [especially with younger ones] on a vacation?
Easy….it all depends on the lens through which you choose to view everything you’re doing or aiming to do on a break. Take for example this insight from the great Cardinal Manning of Westminster, so famed for his indefatigable work in helping resolve the famous London Docks Strike of the 19th century:
“The holy house of Nazareth was to the eye commonplace while for God it was divine and human perfection”
Now take that sublime and lofty view of the ordinary everyday activity of the Holy Family and apply it to the “messy” busy, non-stop energy of your own household. The truth is, the sanctity of Nazareth is as present [or can be] in your own home as it was among Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
We just have to be at peace in the heart to see the gems of grace all around us each day. Something that is so beautifully articulated in this sermon to homeschoolers [who probably more than any of us have reason to moan about the busyness of family life]: Why homeschool
We can joyfully embrace pretty much everything in our day to day lives as the will of God –even the demanding and unpleasant stuff – depending on how we view it with a universal perspective. But the only way we’re going to sustain that vision is by constant prayer and some very important time out – or down time, to decompress as it were from the relentless pressures of daily life and come up for air….the fresh divine air of the Holy Spirit who wants to breathe new life into us on our vacations and help us live the reality of what Pope Benedict XVI so beautifully describes thus:
“By his incarnation, the Son of God united himself in a certain way with every man. He laboured with human hands; he loved with a human heart. He truly became one of us in all things but sin. And we must say that if Christ fully discloses man to himself, he does so beginning with the family in which he chose to be born and grow up.”