Building spirituality during summer time

June 18, 2013

“A spirituality of communion indicates, above all, the heart’s contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us.” - John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 43

Summer is a time for developing new relationships, nurturing and strengthening existing relationships, rekindling distant relationships and repairing broken ones. 

Certainly relationship-building is not relegated to the summer months alone, but there is something to be said about that time of the year when traditionally people travel, visit and relax. 

New relationships can develop at summer camp, during a visit to grandparents or at summer school. Existing relationships are nurtured and strengthened in families when the time is taken to get away together from the exhausting commute and 10-hour work day for an evening, a weekend or an extended vacation. 

We hear wonderful stories about the annual family vacation/reunion with matching T-shirts, shared food preparation, organized games and the introduction of the newest members, whether newborn or new spouse. 

It is perhaps within that context that relationships, which have been estranged or neglected by virtue of a busy lifestyle, are repaired and renewed. 

Years ago I learned a song entitled “No Man is an Island.” At one time it was sung by a famous 1960’s folk musician and based loosely on the poem from John Donne’s Meditation XVII: “No man is an island. No man stands alone. Each man’s joy is joy to me. Each man’s grief is my own.” 

I believe it significant that, from time to time and for no particular reason, I sing that song to myself. Why is that? I think it is because those words express that which each and every one of us knows intuitively. 

It is God’s will that we live in communion with Him and with one another. We need to be in relationship with God. We need to be in relationship with one another.

“The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life” (CCC 234). It is the most perfect relationship within which all relationships find hope and home.

Father Robert Barron, in the section of his Catholicism series about the Trinity, says that God is a communion in the unity of the three persons, “a family of love.” The Father is the lover; the Son the beloved; and the Spirit, the love breathed out between the Father and the Son. 

In the First Letter of John we hear a simple yet profound statement about God. “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him” (1 John 4:17). 

That dynamic love moves like a whirlpool. While it whirls around, it increases and spills out permeating all creation and drawing creation back to the loving Creator. 

Icons are beautiful and mysterious works of art. Their form suggests the meaning. They demand more than a cursory glance. It is not looking at, but looking through the icon that offers the viewer an inkling of the meaning. 

A search for icons of the Holy Trinity will not disappoint. There are many. Consider time gazing at the many depictions of the Trinity a spiritual exercise. 

Remember we were created in the image of a triune God. In order to understand who we are, we must prayerfully consider the mystery of the Trinity. 

Be sure to take pictures of the family and friends with whom you spend time this summer. The photos capture memories and tell stories about relationships. 

Those images will forever be reminders of being a part of one another’s story. We are not islands unto ourselves. By God’s design, we need one another.