How can we make the most of the last few days of vacation?
In the summer of 2011, the Vatican’s spokesman summarized some advice that Benedict XVI was giving during general audiences.
“First of all, he invited those of us who can to use our vacation time in a way that helps renew our relationships with others and with God. Interrupting the hectic and frantic pace of daily life, we can take time to dedicate ourselves to others and to God.”
How can we do this?
Benedict suggested brining the Bible with us wherever we travel. When we’re in the midst of the stresses of travel, one of the first things that might be left aside is prayer. An easy way to avoid that is to take a few minutes with a Scripture verse or two. If our travel is affording us lots of downtime, then why not an extended period with the Word of God?
And if we’re already back home for the last few days before school starts, we can make sure to take some time with Scripture each day.
Pope Francis has said that even 2 minutes a day with the Gospel will change us.
What about renewing our relationship with others? That can be more difficult when we’re fighting over getting the suitcases packed and unpacked, and other related stressors. But for the most part, vacation time gives us more time with family, and fewer things on the schedule. To make it a renewing time, the first step is to put down your smartphone!
Then these tips from Pope Francis are excellent ways to make sure you go deep in conversation with those you love.
Find God in beauty
Benedict also invited us to contemplate the greatness, and admire the beauty, of creation around us, recognizing in it the wonderful presence of the Creator.
He had a specific recommendation for how to get the most out of nature: “to observe this magnificent gift with the same attention Jesus did.”
If we need some inspiration in this regard, there are plenty of saints to learn from.
Get to your roots
“Finally, Pope Benedict suggested that pilgrims and travelers apply their intelligence and curiosity to discovering the monuments of the past – witnesses of culture and faith, as he called them, examples of our spiritual roots and heritage.”
Make sure to find a way to reflect on the generations that have gone before, and think about how your own life is simply a pilgrimage to our home in heaven.
“Cathedral and abbeys, in particular, are places where beauty helps us feel the presence of God and inspires us to pray for the rest of humanity, on its pilgrimage through the Third Millennium.
“The enjoyment of friendship, reading, nature and culture helps to nourish and restore our spirit. It gives us the strength to continue our journey refreshed and renewed.”