Vacationing WITHOUT Taking a Faith Vacation

Wallace's in DisneyThere are times in my past when a vacation would apply to all areas of my life: leave from work, leave from routine, leave from Sunday Mass. Growing in my faith has taught me a vacation is the perfect opportunity to slow down and keep God at the center of my heart.

As a Catholic momma who works outside of the home, summer vacations are prime time for our family. I cherish the moments of the uninterrupted time together. Vacations help you to relax, revive, and refresh your perspective. I wanted to keep myself open to all of the refreshing of my perspective, most importantly – my faith, on my vacation.

I am reminded that Jesus instructed His Apostles to rest and relax after working so hard in the mission field:

“The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.” (Mark 6: 30-32)

Though Disneyworld is no “deserted place,” the vacation was affording our family time to depart, after working so hard, to rest with one another.

There were several forces working against a vacation attitude such as the one described above: 1. We were going to Disneyworld with all of our kids, plus another family, along with a daughter’s best friend (major distraction-filled vacation); 2. We were very tight on our finances, which just added to pre-trip stress; and 3. I had lots of loose ends to tie up at work the week before we departed. There were plenty of opportunities for me to let go and let God, for sure. I can look back now, and see all of the blessings for these things in my life on the heels of a vacation.

I felt prepared knowing that I was in the middle of my preparation for Marian consecration. I was using 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley, which I highly recommend. I felt strong and peaceful to leave my small town for the big metropolis of Disneyworld! The consecration preparation was timely. The prayers and reflections kept me focused on my role as mother and wife, reminding me that my main job was to know, love and serve the Lord. The consecration, more than any other strategy, was preparing my heart and soul for the vacation, and opening me up to experience my family in the way the Lord intended for me.

Because of the many stressful things happening before the trip, I decided to light my blessed candles to remind me to pray for the trip each time I would see the lit candle. I also added prayers for my husband’s career, which is a new blessing for us this year. The hubby is a field agent for the Knights of Columbus, so not only does he get to do what he loves (meet people and figure out their life insurance needs), he also loves working for a Catholic organization. I am super proud of him, and this job has answered many prayers. It is because of his job that we were even able to take the vacation.

We arrived at Disneyworld on a Saturday, and planned to attend Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. On all of my trips to Disneyworld, I had never attended the shrine. This was a special treat, especially in light of the consecration. There were beautiful statues of Mary in the church. It was an awesome experience with my family. On the way into Mass, an older woman was handing out gardenias to the women. I love gardenias, and the smell reminded me of the fragrance of Our Blessed Mother in our lives. Receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist during the vacation was PERFECT. It was exactly what I needed (it always is, isn’t it?), and I felt strengthened in my faith, despite the chaos of Disney (which I love).

After receiving Jesus on Sunday, I knew the rest of the vacation, no matter how chaotic Disneyworld can get, was going to nurture my faith and my vocation. It was not perfect. There was still stress, but most often, the vacation was a respite from our work. However, different for us this time, was the focus on faith.

In order to take a vacation without taking a faith vacation, it is important to choose to keep your faith front and center. Here are a few tips:

1. If possible, partake in preparation for a Marian consecration. Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book was so helpful to keep me focused on the saints, and how their lives were focused on Jesus through Mary. This gave me a very tangible way to focus on and renew my faith both before, during and after the actual vacation.

2. If your vacation stretches over a Sunday, be vigilant about Mass. Do not make excuses. Plan Sundays around Mass while on vacation. Do not miss an opportunity to receive Our Lord.

3. Bring your Bible on the trip. If you are flying, keep it in your carry-on; if you are driving, keep it in your bag in the front of the car. Plan time early in the morning, or at the end of the day to explore Scripture.

4. Plan prayer time in the early mornings. This is especially true if you are going to a place like Disneyworld with children. You will be too tired in the evenings to pray a Rosary. Praying the Rosary in the morning allows you a fresh morning prayer time. Being able to bring your intentions for the day to Our Lord first thing in the morning keeps your faith front and center on the vacation. The evenings are good for prayers of thanksgiving!

5. In the past when the hubby and I would go on retreats together, we would bring items to set up a family altar in the hotel. Though we did not do that for this vacation, as I was writing, I remembered this practice. Bring your favorite Cross, your Bible, a Saint statue, or a statue of Mary (I keep a small replica of the Pieta in my car), prayer cards, relics, etc.

Once I returned from the vacation, I made the consecration to Our Lady. I was able to see the blessings from the consecration, including several special intentions I was focused on, even while in Disneyworld. I also was able to reflect on how special this vacation was for our family: how even in the chaos of Disneyworld, I was able to reflect on my primary vocation of Holiness, especially within my role as wife and mother. Keeping my faith front and center during this vacation allowed me to go to a “deserted place and rest a while.” This has made a difference for me at work this week. Usually, I return to work after a vacation thinking of the to do list. Returning to work, I have been more focused, ready, and open. I attribute this to vacationing, without taking a faith vacation.

What ways do you keep your faith front and center during your vacations?

Peace of Christ to you and yours,

Mary

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Comments

  1. TheCatholicDirectory.com has an app to help you find mass times both by current location and by address. I use it all the time, even when I’m home.

  2. We use our vacation as an opportunity to visit new churches and learn about new saints. We usually tour a church after Mass and point out the station of the cross, statues and side altars so the kids can appreciate the beauty of a new church. It also gives them an appreciation of how universal our church is.

    • Shari,

      That is beautiful. We’ve been thinking of taking a camping trip to Catholic Familyland, or driving to different shrines. These are all great ways to plan a faith-filled vacation for sure!

      God Bless!

      Mary

  3. I have been looking forward to reading your post since I saw that you were going to be vacationing in Disney. Last year we went there too; and vacationing without taking a vacation from our faith was on my mind. We drove from NJ to FL and so prayed a decade of the rosary in the car the first night we left & then again in the morning. My kids were young (6,4, & 2) & so we only did a decade or two at a time. Each family member got to lead a Hail Mary & state an intention each time they led. The kids loved it. That kicked our trip off on the right foot – getting to pray for protection & that God would be part of our vacation. We still said our prayers before meals & bed. We made sure that we made it to Sunday mass (although we went Saturday night).

    I do pray that my children will love God more than they love Disney. As we watched Disney movies for the weeks leading up to our trip to prepare them for meeting the characters and riding the rides, I realized that I should be doing this for our faith too. I need to teach them the storylines of Bible stories and the names of Bible characters and saints just as much, if not more than, the plots and names of Disney movies/characters. My husband and I try to watch out and pray to make sure that we are members of the Catholic religion and not the religion of Disney.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one out there.

    in Christ,
    Renee

    • Renee,

      Thank you for your comments. It is good to see others who enjoy Disney as much as our family. What I remember as I am experiencing Disney is that it would seem to me that the employees (some of which are my students from my university) are bringing their God-given talents to the table. That reminds me throughout the day that God is at work, even at Disney!

      I always find the Rosary to be the prayer that maintains the vacation’s focus on God. It is contemplative, repetitive, and focused on who Jesus is, and who Mary is to Jesus. I love praying it in the car, especially with the family. I like your idea of breaking it down, and having each person pray for their intention on their turn. That’s great.

      One thing my hubby and I have to watch out for in our love of Disney is going overboard with the financial commitment it takes to bring a family of 6 to Disney. I was quite shocked to find that this time, our souvenirs and remembrances of the trip were more about the pictures we took, and the time spent together. Each kid came home with money (so they didn’t spend all of their loot), and so did my husband and I. I experienced Jesus’ love for me through Our Lady’s example of being a Mother. I threw away my “to-do” list, and just went with the flow of where my 6 year old wanted to go in Disney. It was a different experience for me, and I got to experience her happiness and joy, which kept me focused on motherhood.

      We’ll have to keep comparing notes. It is always good to find an awesome family of faith who enjoys Disney, and keeps their faith front and center!

      God Bless!

      Mary

      • I can’t take credit for the idea of letting each person lead a Hail Mary- we did that growing up. But I like it because it keeps everyone involved. It also helps kids learn to pray, esp outloud. It really communicates that Jesus loves you and wants to hear what you have to say. Although parents need to then let the kids pray for whatever is important to them without correction. We pray for animals & Legos a lot in our house. But my 6 year old has started praying for others recently; I guess he picked up on the model my husband & I were trying to set. And when he did we praised him. Looking back on my life, that lesson (knowing that Jesus cared about what I cared about because He cares for me) helped me to remain faithful & in the Church during my adolescence. I knew that I could turn to Him with my teenage problems & that He was there for me. I hope & pray that my children learn the same lesson. Praying the rosary that way is one of the tools I’m using to teach it to them.

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