Instead of my usual homily on Sunday mass readings, I would like to dwell on the summer of fun with family and friends this Sunday ( I get a chance to not probe into parables this week. Phew!). As we approach mid-summer, we should take stock of how much time we have devoted to family and fun. Is fun time with family and friends not the focus of the summer holidays? When I think of the summer season, I think of extended daytime and shorter nights. This weather condition indicates nature's agreement with our human tendencies for dreams and desires for a longer time for fun and festivities. In thinking about the summer season, I recall William Shakespeare's comedy title, A Midsummer Night's Dream. The play's title references the fantasy, festivity and dreams associated with the eve of the summer solstice- June 23. However, my shout-out to the Shakespearean title has more to do with its syntax and order of words than the focus of the play (the play focuses on themes of love, appearance and reality, and order and disorder in nature-important stuff. Perhaps you can add the play to the list of your summer readings). We are approaching the middle of summer and should plan a fun and relaxing time with family and friends.
Some of us have already done that. I have heard from some families who have gone on cruises, beaches, and resorts. I have heard pleasant feedback on how these summer vacations have helped to ease tensions and recharge energy and love in families. Is that not what we dream and desire? We want opportunities to escape from our routine to relax and enjoy nature with those we love. If we can afford to go to the many beautiful places in and outside the country to wind down, we should do so. Summer is nature's gift to us to fulfill dreams and create joy with the people we love.
I saw that summer dream turned into reality in our parish. I was a partial "participant" in our parish Vacation Bible School from Sunday to Thursday last week. What an adventure with our lovely kids and their families! The theme of wilderness adventure provided an opportunity to learn about the church's sacraments. We had games, quizzes, skits, songs and food in abundance. It was not just about learning; it was about building family, parish family. This is part of our goal in summer, an environment for fulfilling dreams of a family's bond of love, joy, unity and peace. I want everyone who worked hard to make our VBS this year another resounding success- Georgann Azzalina and her team- to know I am filled with gratitude (one of the virtues taught during the period) for their sacrifices. May Jesus bless you and all your loved ones.
What am I doing for summer this year? Some of you have asked me. As many non-American-born priests do in summer, I cannot visit my home country Nigeria this year. Instead of an ideal four-week vacation to Nigeria, I spread my vacation weeks through the summer months of June, July and August. I am thankful to the priests who will fill in for me when I am away. It is tough to get priests coverage in the summer months. I plan during my vacation to drive to visit some family members and friends in the Carolinas, New York, and New Jersey. The anticipated highlights of my summer time are the events planned for August 8 and 12. I plan to host and celebrate the feast of St. Dominic on August 8 with my Dominican brothers in various apostolates across Catholic dioceses in America. On August 12, I will celebrate my double nickel birthday at a family reunion. You are a part of my family, and I invite you to share in my joy.
I wish you all a joyful and safe summer travels. We must never relegate God and worship to the background in all our summer fun. Please, prioritize attending mass, especially on Sundays of your vacations outside our parish. Find a mass near you at masstimes.org. Remember to bring me parish bulletins-I am a bulletin collector!
Love you all, Fr. Bernard, OP