Summer is a great time for families to celebrate being together. It’s time for cookouts and camping, swimming and swinging. And it’s the perfect time to praise God in the great outdoors. The Fruits of the Spirit offer a wonderful way to make our faith fresh this season. Choose one to explore with your family each week of summer break.
It’s easy to relax our routines on break. But our faithfulness can remain strong all summer long. One way to demonstrate our faith is to go to Mass each week, even when we’re on the road. Use www.MassTimes.org to find a Catholic church wherever your travels take you.
There are few things that require patience more—or reward it better—than gardening. At the beginning of the summer, plant a cherry tomato sprout together. Check it regularly for weeds, bugs and water levels. Talk about how we continue to serve and hope even when the rewards take time, just as God patiently loves and forgives us even when we don’t get things right.
Think about someone you know who has a hard time keeping up his or her yard; perhaps an elderly neighbor or relative, or a single mom who works full time. Mow their lawn, water plants, walk the dog or pull weeds. You can be angels in their life with your act of charity!
A lemonade stand is the quintessential summer activity. But instead of selling lemonade, hand it out for free to passersby. When they ask the cost, explain that you want to give to them as freely as God has given forgiveness to you.
Blowing bubbles is a joyful activity that spreads happiness as far as each iridescent globe can float. Each time you fill the wand, talk about all the joyful things in your lives as children of God; then blow the bubbles and send your joy to everyone around!
Choose a hot afternoon for this one! Host a water balloon relay race. Divide your group into two teams and give each a water balloon. Each person has to gently carry the balloon around the course; the team to finish first is the winner. Explain that sometimes we’re careless when we’re in a hurry. But slowing down and being gentle is the best course of action instead.
Decorate a peace tree (or peace plant). Make peace signs by twisting pipe cleaners together or tracing the peace sign or doves on paper plates and cutting them out. Hang them on your peace tree and pray together: We pray for peace, love and joy for all of the children and families in the world. Amen.
Summer clothing offers ample opportunities to talk about modesty. As you shop and as you dress, talk about choosing clothes that keep your bodies appropriately covered. Remember that our bodies are gifts from God to be cherished and treated with dignity.
A rainy day is perfect for baking. Together choose a treat to make and a recipient for your random act of kindness.
Teach your kids a tool for regaining self-control: Pray the Rosary. Give them an inexpensive set of beads or make your own together. When they’re feeling angry or anxious, they can keep their hands and minds busy by focusing on the prayers. Let them see you do the same!
You don’t have to look far for opportunities to be good. Take a trash walk: Grab some bags and rubber gloves and go for a stroll, picking up debris along the way. Designate one person for plastic, another for paper and so on; recycle what you can.
Chastity can be thought of in terms of moderating food and drinks. Put together a picnic lunch of fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats and cheeses; while you’re eating, discuss how we eat just the right amount of food and choose healthy food to honor the awesome bodies that God made for us.
The Fruits of the Spirit
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. … If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit. Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another.
Galatians 5:22-23, 25-26 (NAB, Revised Edition)