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Paddle Back to Shore

I was distracted the first few months of summer. Swamped. Work-crazy. Traveled home to help my mom. Baseball tournaments. One vacation, then another. All good stuff.

But I may have missed a Mass. OK, maybe several. My list of excuses is long and weak.

Yet I learned something during that sporadic hiatus. It started to affect the things I typically do daily to boost my faith, or at least keep it status quo. Not celebrating Mass with God each week, experiencing that much-needed touch point every Sunday morning, made it easier to neglect my daily rituals. It became convenient not to dive into the day’s readings before the kids were up in the morning. Reciting the Rosary in the car on the way to work? Eh, maybe tomorrow.

I am well aware that I feel more prepared for the day when I do these things, but keeping up with the activities that feed my Faith, that help power my relationship with God… Let’s face it, it takes work and time and sometimes scheduling in what I need to do to stay connected. And I began to get lazy.

There was a distance growing. Slowly – and I was confident it was temporary – but I can see how easy it is to just keep moving away. I can imagine how a lapse could happen, and how weeks could turn into months, even years.

As a kid, we’d take the row boat out on the lake. We’d all talk and laugh and take turns rowing. And suddenly, in the midst of all that fun, you’d realize you were farther away from shore than you thought. You needed to row back.

It requires effort. Energy. Patience to get back where you started. Back to solid ground.

As a kid, we’d take the row boat out on the lake. We’d all talk and laugh and take turns rowing. And suddenly, in the midst of all that fun, you’d realize you were farther away from shore than you thought. You needed to row back. Click To Tweet

Everyone finds themselves, at some point, a distance away from shore and needs to paddle back. Here’s what I did recently when I was only a little ways out – my version of grabbing the oars and pulling with determination. Maybe it will help you, if you start drifting a bit.

Celebrate the Mass

Get thee to Mass, girl! I feel better the minute I walk in each Sunday (or the rare weekday), like coming home. Make sure to bring your kids, no matter how young they are or how chaotic it can be. It is an adventure, I know, but trust that God is with you. Everyone benefits. As I tell my littles, it’s the closest you can get to God on earth.

Get thee to Mass, girl! I feel better the minute I walk in each Sunday, like coming home. Click To Tweet

Pray

Pray wherever and whenever it works for you. You can pray before you get out of bed. In the shower. On the bus. Walking the dog. Consider throwing in a Rosary here and there. Prayer in any form will make you better, and it makes the world better, too.

Explore

Find fun ways to learn about your faith. Visit shrines in your area, or do research about holy sites that may be near an upcoming vacation spot. Before we leave town, I check out picture books from our local library or find information online about saints or locations, to prep my kids before the journey so a few things are familiar to them when we arrive. They end up retaining more (and we adults do, too.)

We just visited the Canadian Shrine of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and it really boosted my faith to see the first-class relics – incredible – and share the experience with my family. My youngest can now say “Lisieux” with a French accent! Last summer we went to the National Shrine of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in New York… twice!

You could also stop by and say a few prayers in a local church you’ve never visited, or one you find on vacation. There are some beauties out there.

Choose wisely

Surround yourself with people, things and activities that nurture you and lift you up. That make you better. It’s about choosing friends, church groups, organizations. Read books that inform you about our interesting faith and its rich history. Watch movies with positive messages. Volunteer for a worthy cause that helps your parish or community. We make hundreds of choices every day and each one can lead you toward, or away, from God. (And my goodness, I don’t claim it’s easy!)

Connect

I follow many social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: local Catholic groups and national organizations; ministries like You Are Made New; news outlets that keep me up-to-date on issues impacting the Church. I see their posts and messaging and it connects me, either passively or sometimes literally, with other Catholics. It makes the world smaller and spurs dialogue and builds relationships.

All of these things help me to keep my faith front and center (most of the time;), so I’m not gazing too often from across the water at the shore.

What are some ways you get re-centered on the Faith when we find yourself drifting? Let us know in the comments!

Karin Christensen

Karin Gaffney Christensen lives in Upstate New York with her husband, their three children, and a White German Shepherd. A cradle Catholic, Karin has been re-energized by her faith in her roles as wife, mother, and catechist for her parish’s second-graders. Despite the chaos often present in her busy life, she is determined to keep God front and center, and to help her family continue to grow in the Catholic faith.

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