A quick check of July’s holiday calendar reveals this month to be one that celebrates national ice cream day (16th), national hot dog day (17th) and national paperback book day (30th). These and other quaint holidays all serve to underscore the fact that the month of July is probably ground zero for those “lazy, hazy, crazy” days of summer. If June finds us finishing off the graduation parties, August brings back-to-school sales.
But July? July is swimming, picnicking, the lake or beach, and vacation. July brings Fourth of July parades and highways and airports jammed with travelers. How does one exercise the virtues of Christian stewardship during this noisy, boisterous, sun-filled month?
Hospitality is a big part of July, and essential to exercising Christian stewardship. July brings the easy, informal backyard kind of hospitality. Consider sharing a cook-out with neighbors you’ve been hoping to know better, the parish priest you normally see only on Sunday, or the family member who may be lonely this summer. Organize a block party. Invite the people next door over for a quiet evening on the patio.
Even though July has a “time off” feel to it, make sure you don’t extend that feeling to weekend Mass. If you travel, it’s now easy to locate a Catholic Church and find Mass times. It is also enlightening to experience sacred liturgy in a new environment at a different locale.
If you’re staying home, July might be the time to visit a neighboring parish. Just remember that your home parish needs your financial support all during the summer months.
If July finds you able to engage in more leisurely reading in a lounge chair, hammock or on a beach towel, be a good steward of your spiritual life and supplement your summer reading list with a spiritual classic. And with the morning sun up early, perhaps become a contemplative by making a dawn prayer walk a healthy and spiritually nourishing habit during July.
Many charities host “runs” during the summer. But even if you’re not up to a 5K, they’re a good reminder that local charities need our support during July as they do every month. Consider offering one free afternoon to a food bank or shelter, especially if you can involve your children or grandchildren.
Let us also remain mindful that gratitude is fundamental to the Christian life and there is much to be grateful for during the warm, sunny days of July. Remember to begin each day with a grateful heart and a resolve to be a good steward of God’s abundant gifts.