Rest, Retreat, & Renew

Over the Fourth of July holiday record numbers of Americans took to the roads and visited friends and relatives. Some of them drove to national parks or other places of interest. Over the last several years I have made many, many road trips and I love each one of them. I love the open road. Most of the time, if not all of the time, I am alone in my car. Driving by myself, I have time to think and to pray. Last week I was visiting my brother and his family in Green Bay and there were lots of cars on the highway. On my drive back I was calmly driving my seven-year-old Camry which I had set to cruise at 70 mph. I noticed that practically every car was passing me. So many motorists were in such a hurry. I am sure some of them were annoyed that I was driving too slowly. Then a thought hit me. So many times we live just as we drive. We seem to be rushing from one place to another, from one activity to another, with scant time or energy to reflect on more important issues.


Summer is a good time to set our lives on cruise control (We can set the cruise control at 55 mph or even 45 mph) so that we can have some time to do three things. I know that parents are extremely busy with their children. But I would like to invite all of us to do these three things: to rest, to retreat and to renew.

First of all, take time to rest. I have not done a worldwide research study but I am almost certain that as a people we Americans get the least amount of rest. So many American workers do not avail themselves of their vacation days in order to prove to their bosses that they work hard. Every now and then we read magazine articles telling us that we do not sleep enough. During the summer months take time to sleep a little more. Take afternoon naps if you can. I feel bad for our children and young people who have to get up so early on school days. I really believe that their developing brains need a lot more sleep than they get. Resting also means not following any schedule. We are prisoners to our schedules and our cell phones. During the summer months, it is wonderful not to have a schedule. I learnt the wisdom of getting away from tight schedules a few years ago when I vacationed on the beach with some friends of mine. I used to be always on the go (I still am) but it was so refreshing to take long walks on the beach or sit on the porch sipping coffee in the morning or just stare at the waves.

Second, take time to retreat. In order to replenish ourselves we have to get away from it all. Jesus who was very busy ministering to people would often retreat from the crowds to be alone with the Father. He spent time in solitude. I am inviting you to get away from your everyday concerns and dedicate sometime to your spiritual growth. You know that we priests are required to make a retreat every year. In fact I will be preparing to leave for my annual spiritual retreat when you get to read this column. I hope you can find some time during this summer to devote to your spiritual growth. During the year we often complain that we do not have enough time to pray. Read a spiritual book. Find time for prayer. Go to the adoration chapel and spend an hour before the Eucharistic Lord. Please do not give up Sunday Mass no matter where you are vacationing. We need the Lord and our spiritual food even on our vacation. It is also a good idea to shut down our electronic devices at least for a few hours a day.

Finally, take time to renew. Our God is always making all things new. At the end of time God will create new heavens and a new earth as the Bible says. Summer is a time to renew ourselves. I heard in the news that more and more Americans are opting for cosmetic surgery. The renewal I am talking about comes from within. It is not about getting a facelift or purchasing a new wardrobe. Spend a little more time with yourself to find out the things you would like to change about yourself. Renewing self also means finding the time to do the things we are unable to do during the year. Allot time to spend with each of your children alone. Call on your extended family. Renew the friendships that have fallen by the wayside. Make phone calls and write letters. Entertain. Invite people over. Have a barbecue.

I hope this summer will not pass us by. Already one month is gone and before we know it our schools will be back in session. Let us not wait. Let us enjoy our summer.

May the God of rest, newness and peace be with you!

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

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Phone: (847) 825-7605
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Mass Schedule

Monday - Friday

8:30 am - Upper Church


4:30 pm vigil - Upper Church


7:30 am - Upper Church
9:00 am - Holy Family Chapel
10:30 am - Upper Church