Take God on Vacation
By Rev. Albert F. Ernst, O.S.F.S.
In our day there is an increased interest in the health of the body. Many people have become authorities on vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates. They show a great interest in foods. This interest in food falls off when some people find out that what they enjoy is fattening. A pill, brightly colored, takes the place of a well-done steak. Diet charts, weight check-ups, consultations with doctors are the subject of many conversations. However, an excessive self-interest can easily lead to self-idolatry. And for some people, this has already happened. When God is forgotten, when God is put aside, the substitute for God becomes self. Then the body and it’s state of well-being becomes all-important.
Vacation time involves an element of danger. Summer time may place you, a Catholic, in a position similar to those who have no faith in God. Summer time, of course, is vacation time, and vacation time is free time. During this free time you have much time to think about self, and time to worry about health and rest and sunshine. In this lies the element of danger. This danger is spiritual rather than physical. We cannot deny that vacation is good for the body, but because of carelessness, neglect and other interest, it can prove harmful for the soul. Some Catholics think nothing of going off to a beach on a Sunday morning without attending Mass. If you ask them how they can enjoy themselves with a mortal sin on their souls, their answer is that they never give it a thought.
The enemies of the soul are very active during vacation. These enemies are the devil and his agents. Sadly enough we assist them. Then too, they are assisted in their purposes by the breaks in our routine. Prayers are skipped, occasional visits to the Blessed Sacrament are overlooked, weekday Masses even though infrequent are scrubbed during vacation time. And, sad to say, even Sunday Masses are also forgotten. Such breaches in the Catholic stronghold of the soul and such omissions are golden opportunities for a wily Satan. After a missed Mass or other mortal sin he can say and does say, “See, God did not strike you dead,” or, “See, nothing happened to you so it’s not such a terrible thing to commit a mortal sin. Why do you worry so much about it? You are just being silly. It’s OK of you go to Mass once in a while, others don’t go at all.” Once the devil convinces the soul of these things, then suggestions and temptations come tumbling in. The soul can plunge deeper and deeper into sin, trapped by the enticements of the devil.
Our falling into sin brings tears to the eyes of our Lord. Long ago, “Jesus, seeing the city of Jerusalem, wept over it.” That city was beautiful with its gleaming towers, white walls, and the glorious temple. Christ could see it all in ruins, a heap of rubble. He can also for-see the ruin of a beautiful soul. The soul is truly wondrous when adorned with the grace of God. Indeed, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. As such, it is sensitive and attuned to the whisperings of God. Sin changes all that. Sin brings about the ruin of our soul. All beauty vanishes from the soul the moment the soul dispossesses God. Instead, Satan possesses that gutted soul, driving it farther and farther from God. Satan twists the soul to his own ugly likeness. He crushes all longing for good, he makes it hate prayer and any spiritual work. He brings misery where joy once was. The ruin of a soul, this is the masterpiece of the devil.
Vacation time need not be a time to commit sin. Vacations can be good for the soul as well as for the body when they are made use of in a Christian way. Make the proper preparations. Select a place where you are certain that you will be able to fulfill your Sunday obligation to God and your daily obligation to Him by your prayers. Take God along on your vacation. You will then think of Him as the unseen guest at every meal, the listener to every conversation, the companion at the beach or mountains.
When you visualize God so close to you and your loved ones, so friendly with you, you will not break His laws. To be sure, the devil and his agents are powerful against a defenseless soul. Attacks made against a soul fortified by God are as ineffective as a child’s pea-shooter against a thirty-ton armored tank. It is pitiful to see a soul that could be impregnable, succumb to the tricks of Satan.
Inside, your soul should be at peace; outside, you body will mirror that inner calm.
As a Catholic, you should not ignore the health of your body, but you should be more concerned with the health of your soul. A soul disfigured by mortal sin grieves God, who died that your soul might be beautiful. You can keep it beautiful, truly sparkling by uniting yourself to Him during vacation days.
If God accompanies you on your vacation, no matter where, you will have joy and happiness and the words of St. Peter spoken at the transfiguration will again be realized, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. . .”