Make the most of your vacation Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Jul. 22, 2010 -- 12:00 AM

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The topic of vacations may not seem weighty enough for an editorial. However, I figure if Pope Benedict XVI can talk about vacations, it’s worthy of discussion.

Recently the Holy Father has mentioned vacations several times. Of course, he himself is spending time at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, which he said offers him a chance to rest and relax.

Don’t take a holiday from helping people

Speaking during his Angelus address at Castel Gandolfo on July 11, the pope reminded us that we can’t forget about helping people in need, even when we’re on vacation. “To be Christian means to be faithful to the words and example of Jesus, especially by living a love of God and neighbor,” the pope said. As the parable of the Good Samaritan teaches, people need to be like Christ, who is motivated by love and charity, and to serve their brothers and sisters “with sincere and generous love.”

Especially during the summer holidays, the pope said, people should not lose sight of the Word of God and people in need. “May the Lord give us grace and courage so that we may always respond generously, as good Samaritans, to the needs of all who suffer, near and far.”
The pope is reminding us that even though we may be taking time off from work, we should not take time off from helping others. Perhaps vacation time might give us an even greater opportunity to do some volunteer work, assist our own elderly family members or neighbors, or go through our stacks of mail to find requests for financial donations and write checks to worthy organizations seeking our assistance.

God must come first

In another Angelus address on July 18, Pope Benedict said it is important for people to take vacation time, to “rest from our daily labors, so that we may give time to the one thing that is truly necessary in our lives — listening to the word of God in attentive stillness.”

God must still come first, even while we’re on vacation, he said. God is that “inner light of love and truth” that gives every action meaning, value, and joy, said the Holy Father. Without that deeper meaning, everything one does is reduced to “fruitless and disorganized” busyness.
Vacation can be the time when we can spend more time with God in prayer and worship. Our vacation could include time for daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and praying the Rosary. It might include spiritual reading.

Wherever we go on vacation, it is important to find information on churches in the area. One resource is found at operated by ParishSoft, which helps people find Catholic churches and Mass times throughout the country.

One suggestion for people attending Mass while on vacation: please remember to give a donation during the Offertory collection. With people gone from their local parishes, it is important for everyone to support parishes they attend while on vacation.

Get away from it all

I recently enjoyed some vacation time myself. Part of it was a “staycation,” where I stayed at home. Economic conditions are causing more people to vacation at home to save money. I was happy to relax at home without the hassels of travel, to do some things I had put off for months (or even years), and to set my own schedule.

Part of my vacation did involve some travel to visit family members outside the state, which was also enjoyable. I think we were just getting into full relaxation mode by the end of our vacation time!

If you have vacation time offered to you, be sure to take it. Americans are notorious for not taking all the time they are allocated. And try to get away from work while you’re on vacation. There’s no need to spend much time on e-mail or the phone. Get away from it all!

As Pope Benedict said, the holidays should leave you “truly refreshed in body and spirit so that you may return with renewed vigor to the responsibilities of your daily lives.” Amen to that!