Coming off a long break leads one to look back and see what they accomplished during their time off. Whether it was spent with family, friends, or doing other activities, it’s important to look back and be thankful to God for the graces that were received during that time. For me, spending the Christmas break at home is always enjoyable. While I’m only 2 hours away by car at the seminary, it can sometimes seem to be a world away. (As I’ve discussed with my brother seminarians and friends who grew up in the Diocese of Camden and now live or go to school in North Jersey/New York, it’s quite different despite being so close to Philadelphia!) Being away from family, friends, and my home parish among other things can be disconcerting. But it is precisely when being home on break that I find myself to be most thankful and reflecting on the way that God has been working in my life.
Sometimes it seems that periods of rest and relaxation are looked down upon and constantly being “on the go” is the only way to live life. However, this is not true. A prime example is for priests, it is required by Canon Law that they go on retreat once a year. This helps them to see the ways that the Lord is working in their life. Even Jesus had periods where he rested, and he certainly had times when he went to off to be in prayer with the Father as we see in the Gospels.
I recently heard a priest say in his homily that every night, as he examines his conscience, he begins by thanking God for the gift of priesthood and all the other blessings in his life. Our times of relaxation can give us these opportunities to look at all we’ve been given and to be thankful for them. This can be done every day of our lives. We can be so worried about the things we wished we had that we overlook what we’ve been given.
As a seminarian it’s very humbling to be on the receiving end of so many people’s generosity. As we return to everyday life after the Christmas break, hopefully we reflect on the ways that the Lord has blessed us and been so good to us. May we always remember that all the good in our lives comes from him and ultimately he is the one to whom we should be thankful. Our time of rest and reflection always serves to help recharge our batteries and makes us more aware of the work of God in our lives.