Vacations with my family have the unique ability to be both one of the most relaxing and stressful times of the year. Being one of 14 people, including my six nieces and nephews ranging from infancy to 10 years old, in one house for a week can be a little overwhelming at times. While we may enjoy birthday parties and holidays together - spending a week with each other under one roof - well that really puts us to the test! But as families tend to do, mine usually teaches me some of my greatest lessons and this past summer’s vacation together was no exception.
Throughout the week my parents and I established a morning routine of attending daily mass at the local parish. After a few mornings of watching us head out the door together, while still chomping on his cereal in pajamas, my 8-year-old nephew asked if he could come with us the next day. So the following morning he eagerly got up, dressed and went to mass with us. However, looking back, I don’t know which he enjoyed more, attending mass with us or visiting the religious store afterwards and picking out a “treat”! Nonetheless, when most 8-year-olds don’t necessarily have “Going to Church” at the top of their to-do list (especially when it’s not an obligatory Sunday visit), I was pleasantly surprised by his eagerness to come.
As I mentioned earlier, while relaxing, these vacations can be rather trying and throughout the week I found myself learning lessons of patience. Sometimes we may consider ourselves very patient people until we are given a new scenario that challenges our assumptions. This may involve a four year old constantly asking us to play with her, someone who used our bath towel, or little hands always dragging us in the direction of the nearest sand castle. But as the week progressed I learned to hold my tongue and smile, and by the end of the week what used to bother me really wasn’t so bad anymore and my previous complaints seemed trivial. It gave me a new appreciation for St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “Love is patient”, and made me realize this doesn’t only apply to newly-weds!
As we embark on this Year of Faith I carry with me these lessons that I’ve learned from my family members, my very first teachers of the faith (CCC 1653). This vacation with my family taught me that the New Evangelization really does begin at home. Through the examples we set and, likewise, the lessons our families can teach each of us, there is an authentic communication of the joy and love that is our faith.
I once read a sign that said, “You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.” In light of the lessons they taught me, this is indeed true. I love my family and perhaps I just needed a little reminder of the great gift they are to me.
David Burkey is the Communications Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center