by Fr. Jeff Loseke
Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to the summer, and the rhythm of life tends to change for us all. The days are longer, the weather warmer, and we find ourselves outside a whole lot more. We are enjoying picnics, reunions, vacations, games, gardening, and a whole host of summertime activities. Not only might we find ourselves enjoying God’s marvelous creation more, but also we add to it by expressing our own gifts and talents within it.
The summer is a great time to reflect upon the inherent dignity of work and the necessity of leisure in the divine plan. Created in the image and likeness of God, we have been given the ability to sub-create or co-create with God. While you and I cannot create something out of nothing as can God, we can work with God’s initial creation and further develop it in a way that expresses God’s likeness within us. By cultivating the ground and helping it to bear fruit; by honing our skills and sharpening our reflexes for a competitive sport; or by painting, writing, or sculpting a work of art into existence we give further meaning to the world around us and we participate in God’s own work. Because of the effects of sin, we live in a broken world; therefore, not all work is pleasing. Sometimes it takes sheer toil and willpower to persevere through it. Nevertheless, by laboring through these difficulties in love, united with God and by His grace, we overcome the effects of sin and help to bring about God’s kingdom.
The Book of Genesis reminds us that God Himself “rested” after completing the work of Creation, not because He can be exhausted but to teach us the necessity of taking time away from our work to “recharge” and to enjoy what we have done. Days off and vacations are necessary for us who are not infinite in our energies and abilities. Simply taking a day off, going on vacation, or enjoying a leisure activity is not enough, however. While those things may refresh our bodies and minds, our souls require time spent with God, especially in the Eucharist. Should a vacation or a summer activity ever pull us away from Sunday Mass or daily prayer, we then would find ourselves worshipping the idol-gods of our own making. (Recall the Israelites’ golden calf…) So, as the summer may bring rest and leisure into our lives, so may it also bring a renewed sense of what it means to rest in the Lord, not only on Sunday but on every day.
The Reverend Jeffery S. Loseke is a Priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha and is currently the pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Gretna, Nebraska. Ordained in 2000, Fr. Loseke holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome and is working to complete his doctoral degree (Ed.D.) in interdisciplinary leadership through Creighton University in Omaha. In addition to parish ministry, Fr. Loseke has served as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force, taught high school theology and college-level philosophy, and has been a presenter for various missions, retreats, and diocesan formation days across the country.
Art: The Picnic by George Goodwin Kilburne, circa 1900 (Wikimedia Commons)