fbpx arrow-leftarrow-rightaudio closedivot-right emailfacebook firesidegoogle-podcastsinstagramituneslinklogo-fullmicrophoneread searchsnapchatsoundcloudspotifytwitterutg-door-solidutg-doorvideo youtube

In the summer, there is a noticeable shift of energy in my household. My children, who have been going to school and playing sports during the spring months, are all home together under one roof. our days are open, with little more than a trip to the pool on the schedule. As the warm sunshine and long days beckon us out of the house, we are outside barefoot until we retreat to the house in exhaustion to rest and regroup until we’re ready to go out again.

These months are fun, active and exhausting, but they also present the beautiful opportunity to live our faith together in the domestic church of our family. While during the school year our family schedule conforms to the demands of schools, activities and jobs, during the summer months, our schedule is a blank slate. It’s the perfect chance to live the liturgical year together, whether through our daily prayers and devotions, or the activities we use to fill our time.

Our rich Catholic tradition provides a variety of beautiful devotions and practices around which we can form and enrich our days. Here are a few that we’ve enjoyed over the years! 


Our days naturally yearn for form, and maybe you, like me, can feel in the long days of endless summer like the rug has been pulled out from under your feet. Thankfully, the Church, in her wisdom, knows that we crave this form and provides us with many devotions around which we can structure our day. God created us to desire rhythms and routines — after all, he rightly created our earth with the natural rhythms of days, nights and seasons. We are invited to recite even our prayers themselves at set times. There are many such devotions to choose from — the Liturgy of the Hours (prayed at set hours throughout the day), the Divine Mercy Chaplet (prayed at 3 p.m.) and also the Angelus.

Traditionally, Catholics around the world would pause their work at 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. to pray this simple devotion commemorating the Incarnation. You might be familiar with the beautiful Jean Francois Millet painting, “The Angelus.” In it, we see two peasants, a man and a woman, with their heads bowed in prayer, surrounded by a basket of produce and a tilled field. In the distance is the profile of a church, which we can imagine chiming its Angelus bells to announce the moment of prayer. 

Last spring, my family started the devotion of praying the Angelus together in the morning, at lunchtime and at dinnertime. It is simple enough that even my smallest children learned the words and rhythms of the prayer, and I can truly tell you that it provided our family with tremendous graces. It gave us just the right amount of structure around which to build our days.


V. The Angel of the LORD declared unto Mary,
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed
art thou amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of
thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for
us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
V. Behold the handmaid of the LORD.

R. Be it done unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed
art thou amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of
thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for
us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray,
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O LORD, Thy grace into our hearts; that, we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.


Perhaps you’ve heard of the tradition of the Marian garden. It goes back to the seventh century, when monasteries, churches and families would plant herbs and flowers symbolic of Our Lady within their gardens. These gardens were used to make tinctures and ointments by monks and laypeople, but also as places of respite and prayer over the course of the day. You might be surprised to know that most common flowers and herbs have special Marian names, based on their symbolism in Marian gardens.

Maybe you don’t have a big yard, but only a little patio or sunny corner of your home. Why not make a Marian garden of potted plants where you can retreat to pray during the day? You can even start a family tradition of leaving a bouquet of fresh blooms, branches or leaves that you gather at the feet of the Blessed Mother over the verdant summer months. You only need a statue of Our Lady, big or small, and a few potted plants to surround her with to get started. Place a candle, a comfortable cushion or seat for sitting and a basket with rosaries
to make it the ultimate retreat spot.

When my husband and I were young and newly married, we lived in Boston, and on our frequent walks, we would admire the many Marian gardens on front stoops and patios in our densely packed city neighborhood. Sometimes a family would only have a few square feet of space and yet they had beautiful vines and flowers around a statue of Our Lady. Don’t be intimidated by perfection — start with what you have and go from there. Our Lady, like any good mother, loves us for even our most simple and childlike efforts.

Here are a few common plants with their Marian names which you can incorporate into your garden:

  • Marigold, or “Mary’s Gold”
  • Lily of the Valley or “Our Lady’s Tears”
  • Canterbury Bells or “Our Lady’s Bells”
  • Foxgloves or “Our Lady’s Gloves”
  • Sage or “Mary’s Shawl”
  • Violet or “Our Lady’s Modesty”
  • Juniper or “Our Lady’s Shelter”
  • Or better yet, research the Marian name of your favorite flower or herb! Most have Marian names and associations — many are even associated with a specific mystery of the rosary. 


In the 17th century, throughout Europe, monasteries were the center of village life. All of life buzzed around the busy walls of the monastery. Monasteries were not only the location of Masses and prayers according to the liturgical season and holy days, but served as the center of the village economy. Everything — from the cloth worn on the backs of villagers to the vegetables on their dinner plates — came from within the walls of the monastery. In particular, monasteries were known for their lush vegetable gardens and fields, which nourished not only the brothers themselves but the surrounding villagers.

These monastery vegetable gardens often feature prominently in the stories of the saints. St. Charles of Sezze, a friar who lived in Italy in the early 17th century, worked as the chief gardener in his monastery. He was skilled in his work and took great pride in the production and order of his garden, never wanting to take his eye off the garden for fear that some of his work and order would be ruined by others.  

One night, after Brother Charles had been called away from the monastery to care for a sick woman, two bulls snuck into the garden. None of the friars could catch the bulls, and the garden was left in ruins, with several frantic friars trying to catch the two large willful beasts.  

After all options were exhausted, the superior summoned Brother Charles to help. Charles immediately saw that the garden was a disaster. We can only imagine his great disappointment! But rather than panic or despair, he simply approached the bulls and said, “In the name of God, stand still.” The bulls instantly stopped and allowed themselves to be peacefully led out of the garden. When the other monks asked how Brother Charles accomplished what they attempted in vain, the superior responded, “This is the fruit of the virtue of holy obedience.” Charles did not want to leave his beloved garden, but he did so in obedience. When he was then asked to rescue it, his obedience bore great fruit.

Summer months offer the perfect opportunity to plant your own vegetable garden, even if you, like me, don’t have a green thumb! Maybe you can read the story of St. Charles of Sezze, and ask for his special intercession for your garden, even if it gets raided by bulls!  

In my first year growing vegetables, almost 20 years ago, I grew radishes, salad greens and a few stalks of corn, that was it. The tops of radishes make delicious salad greens that are a little spicy and make a delicious addition to a salad of mixed greens. However, I was very surprised to learn that each stalk of corn only yields one single ear of corn! My four corn stalks provided the corn for only a single dinner! Even so, I learned that no food is sweeter than that grown by the sweat of one’s own labor. We relished that sweet corn, and I remember the meal to this day!

There are many books and resources about the best fruits and vegetables to grow in your particular planting zone. Start small, plant a few simple vegetables,and if you have a gardening failure — as I have had many times over the years — think of St. Charles of Sezze the day after the bulls raided that garden. He probably surveyed his previously perfect rows, now decimated, said a prayer and started again.


If where you live is anything like where I live in Virginia, summer days are long and hot. There are some days so humid and sweaty that I could happily spend the whole day in the cool shade of my porch without setting foot into the sun. But as long as there is some cool water involved — whether the refreshing water of a pool, stream, lake or ocean — we are there, happy to frolic in the hot sun for hours at a time.

Did you know that there is a national water fight day in Poland? It’s called Śmigus-dyngus, and while it is traditionally observed on the Monday after Easter Sunday, I say it’s a tradition we need to bring back all summer long.

Traditionally on this day, boys sneak up on girls and throw water over them, commemorating the waters of baptism. But don’t think that these celebrations are somber or prayerful! They are known to devolve into a water fight, with girls retaliating and planning their own attacks. 

Make your own Śmigus-dyngus day with lots of water balloons, water guns, sprinklers and buckets on hand. Just make sure that your participants are ready with swimsuits and towels! There is nothing that feels as good as cold water on a hot day, and you can preface your water fight with a renewal of your baptismal vows.

V. Do you reject Satan?
R. I do.
V. And all his works?

R. I do.
V. And all his empty promises?
R. I do.
V. Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
R. I do.
V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
R. I do.
V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
R. I do.
V. God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever.

Our Father in heaven created us for work and leisure, and in these summer months, we have the chance to live our leisure while glorifying God. I hope that you’ve found some new ideas in these pages about living your faith together in the summer!