holy leisure…my favorite topic!


Summer weather has FINALLY arrived here on the prairies, and we’re soaking it all in! My latest Prairie Messenger column is about the necessity of leisure in our lives. We all need time to step away, reflect, and re-create. Enough of the work….let’s play!

Restorative rest welcomes reflection time. It gives you permission to sit and do nothing. Letting the waves lap at your feet with your face hungrily leaning toward blue skies and sunshine isn’t laziness. It’s revitalizing. Taking a meditative stroll, without checking heart rates and pace times, is as beneficial for your soul health as power walking is for your cardio health….READ MORE

Pope Francis decides not to spend summer at Castel Gandolfo | National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis decides not to spend summer at Castel Gandolfo | National Catholic Reporter.

Shhhh…..don’t tell hubby this piece of news! Many years ago, when our kiddies were still young, we bought a cabin to use as a vacation home. With five children, our holiday options were limited. We found out quickly that camping was not our thing. Travel and hotels were not only costly with our crew, but it often left us exhausted. As hubby would say, we were just “taking the show on the road”!

The cabin became our second home. It surrounded us with familiarity while getting away from it all.

In recent years, hubby has pushed to sell the cabin. He believes that having a second home is excessive. (No arguing there….it is a luxury that I don’t take for granted.) I claim that it is now becoming even more valuable as a vacation retreat for our growing family; a place where we can gather for fun in the sun with the clan.

I used to argue that even the pope had a “cabin” for the summer. Granted, Castel Candolfo was a far cry from our get-away. And, the Vatican kept up the expenses basically for the use of one person and his entourage. We were sharing our place with many, making it all the more practical and viable.

Pope Francis continues to impress us with his simple and humble life-style. It thrills my heart to see him refuse the trappings and pomp of previous papacies. But, I am a firm believer in the need for holy leisure. Francis will be curtailing many of his normal duties during the summer months in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. But, we all need time to rejuvenate. We all need time to get away.

Perhaps a few weeks in the brutal heat of a Roman summer might change his mind.


sharing experiences of attending mass on vacation

Anthony Lehmann, a friend of this blog shared the following ‘holy leisure’ experience of Mass attendance during his family’s summer vacation. Sadly, it was not a very holy experience…

My wife, my 16 year old daughter and two of her friends and myself spent 8 days in Colorado, close to Rocky Mountain National Park. We attended mass in Grandby, Colorado August 12. We sensed this would be different as we entered the front row pew where a woman was wearing a long mantilla.There were four altar boys(no girls found among them) in their black cassock and white surplus. Another sign perhaps to turn and flee before it was too late? The young priest chanted many prayers in English. The Holy, Holy, the Acclamation, Great Amen and Lamb of God were all sung in Latin. Clearly he embraced the New Roman Missal in a big way….read more

Hubby and I didn’t always agree on Sunday Mass attendance during our holidays. I cringed at the extra effort of searching for a church, getting our rag-tag crew of five kids looking decent, and trying to keep them quiet in unfamiliar surroundings. (Why couldn’t ushers do a flight attendant style of announcement at the beginning of mass….the nearest exists are here, here, and here…?!) After a lot of grumbling and complaining, I gave in to my faithful husband. Sometimes the experience was worth the effort. Sometimes not. If nothing else, we tried to model to the children that this is ‘what we do’ as Catholics.

Today, sans enfants, we still don’t always agree an Mass attendance during holidays. Thankfully, my man continues to try and keep me on the straight and narrow. (A tough job, but someone has to do it.)

Attending Mass during travels gives us an opportunity to experience different liturgies, homilies and parish styles. If the travels take us far from home, the cultural diversity can be a wonderful experience. My favorite ‘travel Masses’ were in Hawai’i and Kenya.

A priest friend loves attending Mass during his frequent travels, and relishes the opportunity to pray with the community from the pews.

As young adults, we often spent weekend retreats at a secluded cabin on the lake owned by our friends the Marianist brothers. Hubby has fond memories of paddling in a canoe to a tiny, remote community with one of the priests to assist him in Mass. There was no need to dress up in Sunday best.

I can relate to Anthony’s story. You never know what you will find when you walk through unfamiliar church doors. Sometimes, a wonderful surprise awaits you; a warm and welcoming community, glorious singing and a nourishing homily. Sometimes it can be a ho-hum, boring experience. But, it is one thing when a Mass is simply not spiritually uplifting. It is another when the experience leaves you angry.

I would love to hear your own vacation Mass stories. What church experiences have you had on your recent travels?