As the not-so-lazy days of summer are upon us, it is certainly an appropriate time to relax and reflect on the past year and plan for the next one. As a catechist, a teacher of the faith, it is important to renew your own faith life. Guiding children to a better relationship with God takes some real life experiences to drive home the messages and add to the interest of the subject matter. So how does one take a refresher course in religion?

Here are some thoughts to get you started:

1. Join a bible study or faith sharing group. Check the parish bulletin, Catholic newspaper or the local churches’ websites to find a study group that may be just starting. Many such groups have absentees in the summer months and would welcome a new face.

2. Meet socially with Catholic friends. Plan a party or outing with couples or families from church or school. Meet with friends for breakfasts or lunches. Keep your faith alive with community gatherings. If you meet regularly with a group from church, suggest having a cookout at someone’s house in lieu of the regular monthly meeting.

3. Increase your prayer and worship time. Consider an increase in your prayer time. Look for a daily devotional if you don’t use one now. Some are available online. Sign up for an hour of adoration with the Blessed Sacrament or add a daily or weekly Mass to your schedule.

4. Read a Christian fiction book. There are many great choices out there. Some of the top book stores even have a section for Christian fiction. There are exciting action stories as well as more tame love stories. If you like getting lost in a story while soaking in some sun, try some Christian fiction this summer.

5. Research a nonfiction Christian topic. Perhaps you feel like its time to learn more about that topic you’ve always wondered about, i.e. what are those other books we have in our Catholic bibles or how do we determine sainthood? There are many Catholic websites that not only cover things we should maybe all know but also, current events of the day. Start tuning in regularly to Catholic news and you’ll be amazed at what you learn!

6. Go on a retreat or to a conference. Ok, if you’re really serious about enhancing your faith life, this can be a great way. Check your parish bulletin and your diocesan website as well as the Catholic newspaper for your area. You might even check your favorite Catholic organization’s website to see if there is anything happening that you can attend.

7. Once energized, begin planning the new school year. After a sufficient break from your instruction commitment, and a relaxing, refreshing, interim, it’s time to begin planning a new and exciting set of lessons. Check out some teaching sites online. Many have ideas to get your creative juices flowing. If your school or religious education program uses a curriculum, try out some of the extra ideas listed with each chapter. Check out some resources you never have time to do during the year.

Whatever you do this summer, dedicate your time to the Lord and the results will be amazing!