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In Defense of a Good Vacation

  • Written by Bishop Christopher J. Coyne
  • Published in Diocesan
It seems the summer has just begun and already we are saying “hello” to August and the later return to school and fall registrations for sports and other activities.  I don’t know about you, but I could stand a bit more summer time in my life. Things seem to slow down, there are less meetings to attend, and my desk seems to get a lot cleaner.  Stuff that I’ve put in the “get-to-later” pile is finally gotten to.  And then there are those vacation days... .

Do you know that in a recent report, 41 percent of American workers let paid vacation days go to waste? Now although I have many faults, that kind of waste is not one of them.  Those who work with me at the chancery will tell you that I’m always pushing them to make sure they take their days off.  I know that some bosses may not be so “enlightened.” I also know there are many reasons that folks give for not using all their vacation days, and I’m not about to debate what is a good reason or a bad one. But I also know that when one gets to the end of life, no one looks back and says, “I wish I had spent more time at work.”  When someone offers us an opportunity for rest and relaxation, I think we should take it.

This is good not only for the body, but also for the soul. This is not new ground for us Christians. St. Augustine in his treatise on music opined that, “… it becomes a wise man sometimes to relax the high pressure of his attention to work.” St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa offered this advice regarding the need for relaxation: “Just as man needs bodily rest for the body’s refreshment, because he cannot always be at work, since his power is finite and equal to a fixed amount of labor, so too is it with his soul, whose power is also finite and equal to a fixed amount of work.” Good advice from the sainted doctor. 

It is not simply enough for us to
go out and rest the body.
It is also important for us to
refresh the soul.


Notice that Aquinas is pointing us toward the unity of body and soul in refreshing and renewing ourselves. It is not simply enough for us to go out and rest the body. It is also important for us to refresh the soul. I always encourage people, as I do myself, to make time during my vacation for spiritual refreshment: prayer, meditation, a quiet walk and the reading of Scripture or a good spiritual book. It is amazing how easy it is to schedule these kinds of things into your vacation plans once you set your mind to it. And it is also amazing what good things come from it as well. 

So perhaps you’ve already had your vacation or moved into that headlong rush into a busy fall, and my advice might be a bit late for this year. But there are always the vacations to come and the long weekends ahead.  With a little thought and a little planning, they can serve to renew us body and soul to be bearers of the good news of Christ. Just remember to use those all those vacation days.

Yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Christopher J. Coyne
Bishop of Burlington
Last modified onMonday, 15 August 2016 16:12
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