Spending your summer with Jesus: My top tips!
Yes! It’s summer and I finally get to sit down and write something on here. Oh, how I’ve missed writing. Several times during the busy exam season, I had this deep desire to write and write. Writing about our Lord fills me with a certain sense of joy that I can’t really put into words.
Summer is near at hand. Well, for me it has already began (just rubbing it in of course!) but for many people there is still approximately one month left to go. I know you are all likely full of excitement and eagerness for the well-deserved break. You should rightly be so! You deserve it after all the hard work. However, I would like to encourage you to not forget the person who helped you through this academic or work year. This person is Jesus Christ.
I’m sure you’d agree that throughout the past academic year we’ve all been through some tough times.
Perhaps, there were days when you felt like giving up all hope, days when you were physically and mentally tired and days when you had to accept hard truths and failures. I’m going to be truthful and say that I experienced all the above.
Let’s think back to those days. In your mind, I want you to answer this plain and simple question, who helped and stood by you in those situations? I’m sure that many of you will say ‘Jesus’. This my friends, is the truth whether we realised this at the time or not.
We’ve been through many summers in our lives thus far. But, how many of us can raise our arms highly and say that we’ve spent these summers in close union with Jesus? I would love to say the latter but I’m afraid that I have failed to do so many times. To be even more truthful with you, I haven’t had many successful summers intertwined with Jesus. I feel ashamed of myself at times because I have left out, on many occasions, the God that created me and willed me to be present in this world for another summer.
I forgot the person who never forgets me. I forgot the person who never fails to leave my watch. I forgot the person who on several occasions led me out of deep waters. BUT how grateful am I that despite my failings He still looks out for me!
Very often my summers start off very well. I’m full of excitement and so thankful to Jesus that He helped me through the dreaded exam season.
I usually start off the much anticipated summer with a promise to our Lord which sounds something like this, “ Dear Jesus, I really want you to stay close to me this summer and I promise I will do everything that I can to not forget you”.
Well, it starts off reasonably well but then summer gets filled with several activities, days out with family and friends and holidays. These are all needed in our lives, but the problem occurs when we leave Jesus out of it.
In the hectic schedules of the summer usually months , days and weeks go by whereupon I haven’t even talked to or thought about Jesus or our lady. As expected, this doesn’t affect me to a great degree for a long period of time. However, the Holy spirit suddenly reminds me of my neglect of God and unbelievable guilt kicks in. Let be me honest here , it doesn’t feel at all good! This guilt is followed by me trying to make all amends to stay close to Christ but the thought of having failed Him lingers. In such situations, if not careful, Satan can take the guilt feeling to an unnecessary level. Oh boy, what a mess!
These mistakes I have made led me to wonder … what can we do to avoid losing our ‘tight’ relationship with Jesus during the summer months? Here are some tips that has benefitted me which I strongly believe will help you too.
Tip 1: Attend daily mass.
As Catholic’s, we are very fortunate because we have a treasure that others don’t fully possess. We have the ‘Eucharist’! As Catholics we believe and have held onto the belief of Jesus being fully present within the Eucharist since the earliest days of Christianity. St pope Paul VI taught us that in the eucharist we don’t receive a part of Christ. Rather, we receive the full reality of Jesus; we receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus contained in a tiny white ‘host’. How magnificent is this reality? Thus, the church teaches us that when we receive Jesus, we are in the most intimate union possible, with Him, in this world. Now, imagine receiving this union with Jesus daily?!
I realise that in our summer schedules it might not be possible to attend mass every day. However, why not give it a try? Perhaps, it’s possible for you to decide to partake in mass once or twice during the weekdays
Tip 2: Visit Jesus in the blessed sacrament.
There are days during the summer when we are just lazing around doing very minimal activity. We feel tired and lack the satisfaction of having achieved anything during such days. In many of our churches there are daily and perhaps 24-hour adorations. Jesus is exposed ,and is literally waiting for us, in those tiny chapels within our churches. We as His children should try and visit Him, shouldn’t we? There are often time slots present , where you can book to go and spend 1 or 2 hours with Jesus in adoration. If you can’t book restricted time slots, then visit Him whenever you can! He longs to see you and you will fill our Lord with immense joy when you decide to visit Him.
Tip 3: spiritual reading
Before I fully understood my catholic faith, I loved reading books. I used to devour any book that I could get my hands on. Reading was such a passion for me that I would completely lose myself within those stories. However, these stories never added anything to my relationship with Jesus. They gave me pleasure for a few moments but nothing else. Now that I know my faith more, my love for reading hasn’t died but it has fortified. In Catholicism, we are not short of books. It is quite the contrary! We have a vast number of books about our faith written by and about several Saints and their relationships with Jesus. I can say with great confidence that these books are not boring. These books have only increased my ardour for Jesus and the catholic faith. So, pick a book this summer and resolve to read it thoroughly before the next academic year. Here are a few books that I’d recommend:
Rome sweet home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn
Mother Angelica: the remarkable story of a nun, Her nerve and a network of miracles by Raymond Arroyo
The imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis
The story of a soul (St Therese of Lisieux )
Catholicism by Bishop Robert Barron
Behold your mother by Tim staples
Tip 4: Personal rosary
Nobody can ever lead you closer to Jesus than His mother. Mary alone knows Jesus fully and she has been given the task of leading us to Christ.
Many Saints throughout the centuries have referred to the rosary as a spiritual ‘SWORD’. These beads of prayer to Our lady have shattered even the hardest of hearts. Therefore, perhaps you can make a commitment to say the rosary every day or once a week . If you already have daily rosary as part of your evening prayer, then try and say it with all your heart. Don’t just recite it but pray it!
Tip 5: Novenas
A great gift that Jesus has given us through His bride, the church, are the Saints. These are faithful people who lived and loved Jesus. Through His mercy, God uses His Saints to exercise blessings and gifts.
They are partaking within the beatific vision and when we unite our prayers on earth to theirs in heaven, the prayers rise higher to God. The intercession of the Saints is very powerful and a novena typically lasts 9 days. It can be a good idea to pick a Saint or pick a novena that relates well to a situation that you are in and commit to praying this for the required duration. With the help of these Saints we can grow closer in our relationship with Jesus because their lives can aid our walk with Christ.
Tip 6: watch some movies
Yes, we all love watching movies. I know that during the academic year, when I don’t have much time to watch movies, I constantly make a mental list of the movies that I want to watch or re-watch during the summer. There is nothing wrong with watching movies. Jesus gave us entertainment for a reason. He wants us to enjoy and have fun (without sinning of course). In addition to these secular movies, there are so many great movies about the lives of Saints or Christian movies in general. I often hear a common view that faith-based movies are boring. Nonetheless, I disagree because these movies can change our views and lives altogether. These movies are wonderfully made and I myself have cried during many of them. Therefore, you could choose a couple of faith-based movies to add to your list of must watches. Here are a few that I’d recommend:
The passion of Christ
The song of Bernadette
Paul the apostle of Christ
Tip 7: the little way
My last and final tip is the ‘little way’ which was made famous by St Therese of Lisieux. Therese was known for doing little things for Jesus whereby everything, no matter how small or big, was done in love for Jesus. This is perhaps the easiest but the most difficult thing to uphold. However, if done with love then it’s a WINNER! Jesus longs to be a part of our daily lives. He knows everything that we do but He desires that we include Him in all aspects. Thus, you could start your day off by telling Jesus your plans for the day and throughout the day keep Jesus close to you and talk to Him during your chores and activities.
All the tips that I’ve mentioned are only a handful of the many things that you can do for Jesus this summer. If I’m to explain all the different ‘pointers’, this blog would never end. Likewise, it is your choice as to which of the above ‘tips’ you decide to do this summer. I hope this blog has inspired you to spend more time with Jesus, this summer, and I wish you a happy and joyful one!