As families shift into summer mode, their parish priests remind them gently that vacation from school doesn't justify vacation from God. Surely, the usual pews are a little less full these days and one would hope that somewhere else (near beaches and lakes) they are more crowded, but we must admit that with the regular routines gone, Sunday Mass is often negatively impacted.
Along with summer's more relaxed schedules come visits with distant relations, weddings that provide a chance to see old friends and new vistas, and a chance to engage in more leisurely conversations by the pool. This is all as it should be, for the pace of life the rest of the year often forces us to forego such encounters through which a deeper communion is built.
In consideration of this opportunity, women would do well to remember the foundation of their feminine vocation: to live as icons of Holy Mother Church. The essence of our call is to give flesh to the Bride for whom Christ laid down his life, and who in our midst provides the surest refuge for the children of God.
How do we do this? Each women does it in her own way, using her God-given gifts to do naturally what the Church does supernaturally – nourishing, healing, praying, reconciling, feeding, teaching, and consoling those around her. Each is called to share what wisdom she has come by in her life with those she meets in the course of her day – whether in the family, at work, in school, or where she lives – and summer often provides unique opportunities through which to share these treasures.
The call is not to be obtrusive or overbearing; just as the Church is there – the parish on the corner, the soup kitchen downtown, the school through which so many pass, the sanctuary lamp that welcomes all who visit – our vocation is to be there as well. While the institution may require bricks and mortar, our vocation is rooted in the heart – a heart disposed to love, guiding others to God the Father.
Meditating on the sacraments will provide one key, for there we find the essential work on which to model our own lives. Our domestic churches should imitate the parish work, our tables providing sustenance and fellowship, our domestic altars a source of forgiveness and healing. Family life can be difficult, but if our lives are grounded in prayer, we will find ways to deflect the discord so that peace is possible. It's not always easy, but the grave trials of the Church over the centuries have shown us that as well.
Ultimately, though the piety of some may slacken over the summer months, ours cannot. If we are true to our calling and immerse ourselves in imitating Holy Mother Church, we will have a heart for these dear souls that transcends the transgressions borne of human weakness. If we can see our way to living the feminine vocation in such a way that Christ is paramount and his wounds the path to wholeness, then we can absorb a great deal on his behalf.
With this focus – loving with the mind of the Church, forbearing with the grace of God, and drawing all into a communion built on the promise given to Peter – we trust that our encounters this summer can provide a deeper meaning than the trifles with which most are absorbed. And if we do our work well, even those who neglect God will have found something of value, because we will have brought the Church to them.