There are times in my past when a vacation would apply to all areas of my life: leave from work, leave from routine, leave from Sunday Mass. Growing in my faith has taught me a vacation is the perfect opportunity to slow down and keep God at the center of my heart.
As a Catholic momma who works outside of the home, summer vacations are prime time for our family. I cherish the moments of the uninterrupted time together. Vacations help you to relax, revive, and refresh your perspective. I wanted to keep myself open to all of the refreshing of my perspective, most importantly – my faith, on my vacation.
I am reminded that Jesus instructed His Apostles to rest and relax after working so hard in the mission field:
“The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.” (Mark 6: 30-32)
Though Disney World is no “deserted place,” the vacation was affording our family time to depart, after working so hard, to rest with one another.
There were several forces working against a vacation attitude such as the one described above: 1) we were going to Disney World with all of our kids, plus another family, along with a daughter’s best friend – major distraction-filled vacation; 2) we were very tight on our finances, which just added to pre-trip stress; and 3) I had lots of loose ends to tie up at work the week before we departed. There were plenty of opportunities for me to let go and let God go, for sure. I can look back now, and see all of the blessings for these things in my life on the heels of a vacation.
I felt prepared knowing that I was in the middle of my preparation for Marian consecration. I was using 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley, which I highly recommend. I felt strong and peaceful to leave my small town for the big metropolis of Disney World! The consecration preparation was timely. The prayers and reflections kept me focused on my role as mother and wife, reminding me that my main job was to know, love and serve the Lord. The consecration, more than any other strategy, was preparing my heart and soul for the vacation, and opening me up to experience my family in the way the Lord intended for me.
Because of the many stressful things happening before the trip, I decided to light my blessed candles to remind me to pray for the trip each time I would see the lit candle. I also added prayers for my husband’s career, which is a new blessing for us this year. The hubby is a field agent for the Knights of Columbus, so not only does he get to do what he loves (meet people and figure out their life insurance needs), he also loves working for a Catholic organization. I am super proud of him, and this job has answered many prayers. It is because of his job that we were even able to take the vacation.
We arrived at Disney World on a Saturday and planned to attend Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. On all of my trips to Disney World, I had never attended the shrine. This was a special treat, especially in light of the consecration. There were beautiful statues of Mary in the church. It was an awesome experience with my family. On the way into Mass, an older woman was handing out gardenias to the women. I love gardenias, and the smell reminded me of the fragrance of Our Blessed Mother in our lives. Receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist during the vacation was PERFECT. It was exactly what I needed (it always is, isn’t it?), and I felt strengthened in my faith, despite the chaos of Disney (which I love).
After receiving Jesus on Sunday, I knew the rest of the vacation, no matter how chaotic Disney World can get, was going to nurture my faith and my vocation. It was not perfect. There was still stress, but most often, the vacation was a respite from our work. However, different for us this time, was the focus on faith.
In order to take a vacation without taking a faith vacation, it is important to choose to keep your faith front and center. Here are a few tips:
- If possible, partake in preparation for a Marian consecration. Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book was so helpful to keep me focused on the saints, and how their lives were focused on Jesus through Mary. This gave me a very tangible way to focus on and renew my faith before, during and after the actual vacation.
- If your vacation stretches over a Sunday, be vigilant about Mass. Do not make excuses. Plan Sundays around Mass while on vacation. Do not miss an opportunity to receive Our Lord.
- Bring your Bible on the trip. If you are flying, keep it in your carry-on; if you are driving, keep it in your bag in the front of the car. Plan time early in the morning, or at the end of the day to explore Scripture.
- Plan prayer time in the early mornings. This is especially true if you are going to a place like Disney World with children. You will be too tired in the evenings to pray a Rosary. Praying the Rosary in the morning allows you a fresh morning prayer time. Being able to bring your intentions for the day to Our Lord first thing in the morning keeps your faith front and center on the vacation. The evenings are good for prayers of thanksgiving!
- In the past when the hubby and I would go on retreats together, we would bring items to set up a family altar in the hotel. Though we did not do that for this vacation, as I was writing, I remembered this practice. Bring your favorite Cross, your Bible, a Saint statue, or a statue of Mary (I keep a small replica of the Pieta in my car), prayer cards, relics, etc.
Once I returned from the vacation, I made the consecration to Our Lady. I was able to see the blessings from the consecration, including several special intentions I was focused on, even while in Disney World. I also was able to reflect on how special this vacation was for our family: how even in the chaos of Disney World, I was able to reflect on my primary vocation of Holiness, especially within my role as wife and mother. Keeping my faith front and center during this vacation allowed me to go to a “deserted place and rest a while.” This has made a difference for me at work this week. Usually, I return to work after a vacation thinking of the to do list. Returning to work, I have been more focused, ready, and open. I attribute this to vacationing, without taking a faith vacation.
What ways do you keep your faith front and center during your vacations?
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