Staying Holy: A Summer Game Plan

School is out and summer break has begun. Maybe this means you’ll be binge-watching your favorite Netflix series and sleeping in until two o’clock (it’s been done…by me). Or maybe you’ve got a demanding summer job, rigorous summer classes, or exciting travels in these coming months.

Whatever your story, it’s crucial that a break from school doesn’t turn into a break from God. As your schedule and your community change, it’s important to develop a plan to stay focused on the one Thing that’s not changing: your Heavenly Father.

So pick up that pencil one more time and get those rusty gears turning again. It’s time for the most important homework of the year: a summer prayer game plan.

1). Make a Schedule

How often have we wanted to wake up for daily Mass during break, or make a trip to the Adoration chapel…but it never happens? Our alarm rings and suddenly we’ve justified all the reasons we should stay at home instead. We hit snooze.

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You wouldn’t sleep through class if you wanted to do well, so why sleep through prayer if you want to grow in your relationship with God?

So, first thing’s first. Set a schedule. Schedule out the basic plan of each weekday: wakeup time, work, meals, and…prayer! Treat this prayer time like classes on your school schedule. It is—in every sense of the word—sacred time. Plan your commitments around this prayer block whenever possible. And most importantly, stick to it! New habits take time, but remember, time in prayer is never wasted.

2). Pick a Goal

In what ways would you like your prayer to grow this summer? Pick a goal that is unique to you and reasonable. Here are a few ideas:

The Rosary: if you only have 15-20 minute time blocks for prayer, or you want to pray while on the go, you should make the rosary your prayer goal. The Blessed Mother’s intercession will work wonders in your spiritual life through the beautiful repetition of this form of prayer.

Divine Mercy Chaplet: If you’ve got a short attention span and want to start with smaller chunks of time, or if you feel attracted to Jesus’ mercy, then DMC is for you. Short but mighty, it’s a great daily reminder of Christ’s love for us.

Spiritual reading: Perhaps you want to enhance your intellectual pursuit of the faith. Then pick up a spiritual read, new or old. From Aquinas to Augustine to Mark Hart, spiritual reads will no doubt get you thinking about the depths of God’s love for you. Some of my favorites: St. John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert, Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Philippe, The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn.

Adoration: If you want to grow in love for the Eucharist, or don’t quite understand the concept of Christ’s Body, prayer time in front of the Blessed Sacrament is the way to go. Sometimes it can be challenging to sit in silence, but the Lord often provokes great contemplation as we sit face to face with His real presence. Feel free to bring a journal, book, or any other form of prayer to incorporate in with this time in Adoration.

Daily Mass: Mass is the source and summit of our faith, so why wouldn’t we want to go every day!? Committing to Mass during the weekdays can be a beautiful challenge and blessing. It’s a great way to come together with the Church, receive Christ’s peace, and center yourself during a hectic day. If you’ve got the time to make it work, it can only help!

If one of these jumps out for you, go for it! Even better if you’re unfamiliar with it. The best way to learn a new type of prayer is to jump right in and try it. You’d be surprised at the spiritual depths it could call you to!

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3). Accountability

Your faith life is in no way individual. That’s why, together, we make up the Body of Christ—connected, united, and one.

For this reason, it’s important to pick an accountability buddy. Let them know your summer game plan and unpack spiritual fruits with them throughout the summer. Or have them check in every once in awhile to make sure it’s going well. By molding friendships rooted in Christ, you’d be surprised at the level of comfort and support that develops in those relationships. It’s also a great way to remember that, no matter the distance, you’re always united to your spiritual brothers and sisters.

It’s equally as important to remember to pray for the Body. Tell a friend or community you’ll be praying for them, then do it. Each time we gaze at Christ’s Body, we see them. And just as we ask for prayers in our times of need, so, too, should we support our friends when they experience these trying times.

Staying rooted in your faith life this summer is about so much more than your own prayer life. A healthy prayer life has a massive ripple effect on all those relying on your prayers!

4). Adapt and Keep it Real

Okay, let’s be real. Steps 1-3 seem like a solid launching point, but…life happens. Maybe it’s tough to enact the goals we set due to an unexpected change of plans, spending a lot of time with family, or a busier schedule than we thought. And…that’s ok!

The hassles and trials of daily life can make our game plan tougher to follow, but that makes it an even greater act of love when we follow through. Yes, we may have to adapt to be reasonable, but adapting doesn’t mean we’re giving up on our plan. It means revising and remaining determined to not give up on our quest to holiness, no matter the obstacles. After all, God doesn’t give up on us.

Central to this consistency is the idea that we make reasonable goals. If going to Mass every day will put a strain on our other obligations, it may not work in the summer game plan. It could soon be very easy to let this prayer then become a task or burden, an item to check off, instead of a goal we can both accomplish and grow from.

I remember one summer in which I couldn’t make it to Mass during the week due to my work schedule. At first I tried to miss meals or meetings to make it work, but I couldn’t keep it up long. I would walk by the Church and hunger for the Eucharist more than I ever had in my life. However, because of that lack, I learned to desire God more, and I picked up other prayer habits that helped me stay connected. God used my crazy schedule to speak to me in new, unexpected ways. And you can be sure He’ll do the same for you!

Can’t make it to the chapel? Pray on the go. Spending a lot of time with family? Turn that into a prayer! Love Christ through everything — ad majorem Dei gloriam — all for the greater glory of God.

5. Hit the Books!

Game plan ready? Now it’s time to get cracking.

The truth is, summer break is a perfect test to our faith. Honestly, faith isn’t much if it’s easy. So now God is asking us, will we love Him when it’s hard? Will we pray even when our Catholic friends are far away, or when we’re in an unfamiliar routine? Do we realize that spiritual union supersedes the physical union with which we’ve grown comfortable? Do we realize God is waiting for us?!

School may be on break, but our call to love God deeply is stronger than ever.