We all know it can be hard to do stay spiritually engaged with our faith when we just want to be outside enjoying the sun and relaxing. However, as your parish priest probably tells you every summer, God never takes a vacation. Here are 10 easy ways for young people to stay spiritually active during the summer.
1. Go to Church every Sunday. This seems like the most obvious. It’s just one morning, one day a week. But in that short time, you renew your relationship with God and with your fellow Orthodox Christians. Sure, you might miss a Sunday or two during the summer for vacation, but try to go every Sunday that you are able. It’s like going to the gym—not “fun” in preparing to go, but once you get there you feel healthier and happier.
2. Read from a prayer book or a passage of the Bible before bed. This is a simple and short thing you can do from the comfort of your room before falling asleep. Instead of scrolling through Instagram or reading obnoxious posts on Facebook and Twitter, try absorbing God’s words instead. They’ll make you much less frustrated with the world and will help you fall asleep faster.
3. Go to/work at an Orthodox Summer Camp. That camp could be anything from Vacation Bible School, Camp Good Shepard, Antiochian Village, Ionian Village, or even HCHC’s Cross Road. If you have time this summer, you should spend it at one of these great camps as either a camper or a counselor. These camps will serve as a perfect combination of “fun” and “faith” that you may be longing for.
4. Participate in YAL/OCF summer events and meetings. If you’re not much of a “camp” person, then YAL/OCF is the perfect alternative. If your home parish (or a parish nearby) is having a YAL or OCF event you should definitely try to go. This is a great way to connect with other Orthodox youths and to share in the faith.
5. Take a weekend trip to a local monastery. We can’t all afford to jet off to Greece to see holy monasteries. Luckily, there are many Orthodox monasteries right here in the United States and in Canada. My personal favorite is Agia Skepi Monastery in White Haven, Pennsylvania. It’s the perfect spot to spend a day or two and get spiritually rejuvenated.
6. Take a small prayer rope with you wherever you travel this summer. Whether you’re going on vacation or going to work, it’s good to have a prayer rope on you at all times. This way you’ll remember to pray during the day, and you’ll remember that God is always with you.
7. Observe fasting days on Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s a lot easier to remember fasting during the school year when things fall back into routine. During the summer the days and week can blend together, causing you to forget what day or month it is. This is why it’s important to try to remember when we are supposed to be fasting. Not only will this help us grow closer to God, but it will also help with time management.
8. Go to the Tomb of Christ exhibit at National Geographic in D.C. Again, this is A LOT cheaper than going to the actual Tomb of Christ in Jerusalem. If you live too far away from D.C., try to find a religious exhibit closer to you. Most major cities have them. Houston has a Vatican exhibit at their Museum of Fine Arts, and Chicago’s Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) has some beautiful religious art on display. These might not all be 100 percent Orthodox, but they could still be a good time and spiritually uplifting.
9. Set up bi-monthly meetings with your spiritual father. If your spiritual father lives close by, you should make a point of talking to him at least twice a month. You can tell him what’s been weighing on your mind, and he can give you spiritual advice you can’t get anywhere else. This isn’t mandatory obviously, but it can be good for your soul.
10. Volunteer with the less fortunate. Nothing will make you feel closer to God than to serve others. Around Thanksgiving there are so many volunteers. It would be nice for non-profits and charities to have people volunteer during the slower summer months.