by Elizabeth Ficocelli
Summertime blesses us with a much-needed break from school routines, and sometimes work routines. During these precious months family activities abound, and so do the opportunities to grow in our faith as we relax and enjoy God’s creation all around us. Making simple connections between family fun and our Catholic faith can yield practical and, at times, even surprising teaching moments — both spiritual and relational. Here are just a few examples.
Planting the Seeds
Whether tending the landscape around our home or planting a flower or vegetable garden fromscratch, attending to the earth provides fertile ground for conversation about our faith. Starting plants from seed? Use the parable of the mustard seed in Scripture (see Mt 13:31-32) — a tiny spec — that grows into an enormous bush, just as our faith flourishes when we place our trust in God.
Or try the parable of the seed that is sown in the busy path, the rocky ground, the patch of thorns and the rich soil (see Lk 8:4-15). Which one takes root and why? Discuss how we must prepare our hearts and minds to hear the Word of God and follow it. Point out how plants require tender loving care to grow strong and healthy, as does our faith life. We can nourish ourselves spiritually with Scripture reading, prayer and exposure to good things.
Having a problem with weeds? That’s the reality of gardening and life. Fortunately, as Catholics, the gift of reconciliation helps us eliminate problems in our lives that may be blocking our relationship with God and with others. If the garden is neglected, it will show. The same applies to a person’s faith.
Praise God today for the beauty and wonder of His plants and flowers and for the weather He blesses us with to enjoy the good gifts of the earth. Also, point out how fun it is to eat what you grew (God’s goodness).
Putting Faith on the Menu
What would summertime be without a picnic at the park? A family meal around a wooden picnic bench sets the perfect table for a discussion about the Last Supper, the meal Jesus shared with His apostles that would change history forever. Breaking bread together, whether it is PB&J, hotdogs or chicken legs, families become bonded in a special way.
Eating a meal in the outdoors reminds us of the Israelites in the dessert of the first Passover meal, when they had to be prepared to eat on the go.
During picnics enjoy one another’s company and praise God for the shade of the trees, the song of the birds and the breeze that helps kites fly. And, as you clean up, talk about appreciating God’s creation by being good stewards of the land so that others in future generations can enjoy the same pleasures.