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Bishop Paul Sirba: In this Year of Mercy, summer is the time to work on our relationship with Jesus

Summer is the perfect time for us to work on our relationship with Jesus Christ. It isn’t expensive, but it will cost you your life. Cardinal Francis George, OMI, former Archbishop of Chicago, recently deceased, used to remind people “that the poorest of the poor is not the one who lacks material things but the one who does not know Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Paul Sirba
Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua

Summer usually provides us with a change of pace from our normal work routines. Schools take a break. Many families go on vacation. Creation bursts forth in all its glory, and except for the mosquitoes, we live in a paradise. It is the perfect time to cultivate our relationship with the Lord.

Like the gardens that we planted in the spring, when we spaded up the soil and planted seeds, now we water, weed and fertilize them waiting for them to produce rich fruit. Our spiritual journey forms a parallel. The opportunities we embraced when the Jubilee Year of Mercy began should now produce some ripening fruit in our spiritual lives.

Here are three pointers.

  • Pray in the morning when you first get up. As soon as you roll out of bed offer God the prayers, works, joys and sufferings of your day. Make the intention to unite your daily duties with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Sacred Heart represents the face of God’s mercy, and the Immaculate Heart teaches us what a perfect “yes” in response to God’s invitation to a relationship looks like. The intention carries your offering throughout the entire day. We can renew it and refresh it and call it to mind more readily if we begin the day lovingly offering to God all that we experience.

  • Make the effort to do one of the Corporal or Spiritual Works of Mercy each day. There are 14 of them, so you have great variety from which to choose. A check list on the refrigerator or the bathroom mirror can help you concretely check off your progress. Feed the hungry? Check! Forgive injuries? I try and will continue to try. Clean out my closet and donate clothing to my brothers and sisters in need — yes, I’ve done so gladly.

  • Feed and nourish the soul. Make Sunday Mass the first fruit of your day and the high point of your week. Attend Mass at a neighboring parish or one of our summer chapels. (Don’t neglect your offering to your home parish or I’ll get in trouble with the pastors!) Take advantage of the opportunity for Confession. It is easy to check for Confession times when traveling, and there are apps for examination of conscience and reminders on how to celebrate the sacrament. Going to Confession is like weeding the garden of the soul. Just as the plant is able to grow and mature when its roots are not being choked by weeds, so the soul is able to grow in holiness when sins are forgiven and grace is able to flow freely.

I pray God’s blessings upon all of you and your families during the summer months. May the good Lord refresh us and help us strengthen our relationship with Him. Summer is the perfect setting for our spiritual growth.

Bishop Paul D. Sirba is the ninth bishop of Duluth.