Fr. John Bartunek has written books for some of my favorite Catholic publishers such as Sophia Insitute Press and Servant Publications. He also wrote Summer Meditations which is appropriate for the season we’re in right now! Based on his book, here are seven virtues we have the opportunity to develop thanks to the season of the year that we’re currently in.
Never thought of playfulness as a virtue? Think about it. “When we fail to place our work aside, we don’t become more human but less. We become more like beasts or like machines. The human soul is made for more than labor.” We were play to pray, contemplate, meditate, and play! And the obvious opportunity to be playful this summer is during our summer vacations!
Summer gives us the opportunity to grow in determination thanks to the uncomfortable higher temperature outside! The heat will “drain your energy and empty your reserve supply of motivation.” If you can push and work through the heat, you’re getting more determined. “Working through difficulties and challenged with determination can lead to spiritual growth, just as exposure to the summer sun is required for growing a bumper crop of wheat, barley, or corn.
This is an obvious virtue to grow in the summer. As a guy, it’s tempting to show off the muscles. Sun’s out, guns out! There is an inspiring story from St. Jane de Chantal who was known to be very beautiful physically. She would be asked why she dressed so modestly while her husband was out of town. “Her reply was full of Christian wisdom, ‘The eyes which I want to please are a hundred miles from here.'”
Summer time is a time for BBQ’s and outdoor gatherings with your friends and family. What’s at the root of these occasions? “True hospitality begins with goodness of heart and overflows into all the other elements: food, drinks, decorations, music, and everything else.”
Think it’s easy to be hospitable with your parties? Think again! Sometimes it can be hard! “At times we feel we simply don’t have anything left to give. Our cupboards are bare, both physically and emotionally…throughout history, more than one saint has given away her or his last loaf of bread to a beggar only to go back to the pantry and find it miraculously restocked.” It looks like we cannot be more generous than God.
Can’t we forgive anytime of the year? Yes, but during the season of summer, we are inspired by nature to forgive like it does. “Other seasons tend to be harsh and violent; they can cause a lot of damage. Trees lose limbs or collapse under the weight of ice and snow; high winds tear them apart; frost kills their buds. Summertime, however, always seems to find a way to make up for those losses. The long period of warmth and light releases fresh energy and renewed vitality. It allows new growth patterns to transform old wounds into unique, beautiful features.”
Just as with forgiveness, should we be wise all year round? Summer presents it’s own opportunity for wisdom. “Summer has two contradictory personalities. On the one hand, it’s a season meant for hard work-just watch a farmer or a rancher sweating sunup to sundown during the hot summer month. On the other hand, we tend to associate summer with relaxation; the pleasant weather lends itself to vacations and rest. It takes wisdom to know how to balance these two conflicting summer trends. The wise person will recognize both opportunities and maximize each.”
As mentioned in #6, summer lends itself for hard work. The goal or end of hard work is excellence. That could be working on the garden, or working out to have a healthy body to serve Jesus in others. Or working out to take care of the temple (our body) that God gave us. Most importantly is striving to be excellent in soul. “Our eagerness to do good and to develop our soul and the world around us flows from the joy of being alive and being given the power of creativity by God. We are made to be builders of great things, from cultures to relationships. When we do what we are created to do with excellence, we help fill the world with light, happiness, and beauty.”