The high holy days of Christmas and Easter provide plenty for Catholics to meditate on and do during the seasons of winter and spring, but what about the great frontier of summer? What’s a Catholic to do now? Allow me to provide a non-comprehensive list of ideas for the serious, fun-loving Catholic to enjoy during this season of rest and recreation.
1. Read a Novel
If you’re a student, now’s the time to set the hardcore theology aside and pick up a pleasant and engaging book to read. Don’t be afraid of fiction. You’ve already read the Lord of the Rings, so here are a few other Catholic book ideas:
Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
2. Go on a Pilgrimage
The extra time you have and the sunny weather provide many opportunities for a jaunt to a holy place. Yes, you can get a plenary indulgence at many of them, but you will also have time to meditate on the pilgrimage that is your earthly life, and maybe even spend some QT with those you love. Here are some ideas for pilgrimages, and you don’t even have to go to Europe!
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC
Holy Hill, Milwaukee WI (and the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, Campion, WI)
Mission of St. Charles Borromeo, Carmel, CA (site of Bl./St. Junipero Serra)
National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg, MD
National Shrine/Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, MN
National Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos Shrine, New Orleans, LA
The grave of Servant of God Dorothy Day at the Cemetery of the Resurrection, Staten Island, NY
3. Organize a Barbeque
I recommend the cooking advice of St. Lawrence, “I’m done on this side, you can turn me over now.” Eat some good red meat and have some Trappist beer (if you’re 21), and make sure to invite those neighbors who might not know how much fun Catholics can be.
4. Watch an Outdoor Movie
This is a fun venture, and if you’re looking for good, non-saccharine Catholic movies to view, here are some ideas.
On the Waterfront, Marlon Brando (1953)
Becket, Richard Burton (1964)
The Scarlet and the Black, Gregory Peck (1983)
Babette’s Feast, Stephane Audran (1987)
Les Miserables, Hugh Jackman (2012)
5. Volunteer at a Bible Camp
From the South Bronx to an Indian Reservation in North Dakota, I can testify that this is both a rewarding and–dare I say–fun experience for your summer. Actually have an impact in someone’s life and learn how to tie a rosary, too.
6. Visit a Nursing Home
Objection 1: Nursing homes are depressing.
Sed Contra: “Even if his mind fails, be considerate of him; do not revile him because you are in your prime. Kindness to a father will not be forgotten; it will serve as a sin offering—it will take lasting root” (Sirach 3:13-14).
Respondeo: When Catholics think of how they can grow in their faith, they tend to forget the opportunity that visiting a nursing home affords. Not only are you helping to brighten an elderly child of God’s day, you might actually learn something in the process. Musical instruments are always a plus. (And if you are at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Cincinnati, you might get to play Wii Bowling with the residents.)
Reply to Objection 1: That’s because you’re not there!
7. Play Baseball or Softball
Obvious. (The Great Bambino himself was a Catholic.)
8. Or Soccer or Ultimate Frisbee
Not quite as obvious as #7, but obvious enough. Here we see Lionel Messi (right), the greatest soccer player in the world, meeting with his fellow Argentine, Pope Francis.
9. Go on a Hike
Experience the beauty of God’s creation in one of his unsullied areas. Don’t forget trail mix. Say a rosary while you’re at it.
10. Write Poetry
Write a poem, especially if you’ve never done so before. It doesn’t have to change the world–just access a different part of your intellect. Address it to God if you’re embarrassed to give it to a mere mortal. Pictured here is the tortured Catholic poet Oscar Wilde. (Caution: don’t lose your mind.) Once definitive proof is shown that Shakespeare was Catholic, this post will be updated.
With heart, mind, soul, and strength restored, go spread the Good News to whomever will listen. Have a great summer!
Image: The Author Ponders the Glories of Summer