Summer, vacation – a time to relax, but also to reflect …

A unique gathering of children, youth and families was held in Lancaster, PA. For six days, the Black Rock Christian Retreat Center has become our second home and has given us many spiritual moments.

About the July meeting entitled “Holiday with God” 2022, we learned from social media, especially Facebook. For a long time my husband and I followed the information about this form of vacation, before we decided to go on a family trip together under the Marian slogan “Here is your mother”. We knew where we were going, but we didn’t know who to meet or what to expect.

You may be wondering why we chose this kind of holiday with our children. Why not sunny islands? Why not beautiful Europe? Why not the beloved Poland? We have a simple answer for all of you: Mary was and is always present in our family and in our home. It was she who, during these holidays, which we wanted to give ourselves completely, let us go back to our ordinary household affairs and at the same time ask for the grace to overcome everyday human problems. Our first summer “Vacation with God” we considered a great opportunity to enrich our spiritual life, deepen our faith and build a good relationship with God and our neighbor through common prayer, discussion, singing and joy in daily life .

During “Vacation with God” we put computers and telephones aside. Facebook and the internet ceased to exist for us, and the busy schedule didn’t allow us to contact our family or friends by phone. Right after morning exercise, we started each day with God’s Word and prayer. After breakfast there were group workshops, in which we got to know the images of Mary and her apparitions – that is, Immaculate, Częstochowa, Fatima, Guadalupe and Gietrzwałd. The Holy Mass was a fixed point every day. We had many lessons and although they were the core of our daily activities, all the moments “in between” were also important to us, ie swimming in the pool and azure lake, bonfires in the evenings, praying a communal rosary during forest walks and communion with the simplicity of the Amish.

Maybe we didn’t look perfect during our meetings, maybe we were even a little dirty on the outside, but how clean we were inside. At the end of the day, when it got dark and we were tired but happy, getting ready to go to sleep, we asked the Lord for peace after the hardships of the day, and we also asked for a safe night and holiness , which we are constantly striving for.

The highlight of the week was Wednesday night when I entrusted myself and my family to Our Lady of Guadalupe, wearing her miraculous cloak as she read the Marian Act of Trust. Here we can all let Our Lady take control of our lives, giving her not only what is easy, but also what is difficult. We have all voluntarily given Our Lady the right to run our daily affairs. At the same time, we gave her the freedom to solve our very difficult human affairs. Under the Virgin Mary’s cloak, in the safest place where evil cannot enter, we hid our daily life, letting her shape and mold our interiors.

The “Vacation with God” experience also allowed us to look differently at our parenthood and the next stage of our calling, which is adolescent children who are already beginning to have their own ideas for life, often different from our vision. Heeding our calling has taught us, along with other parents, humility, patience, and trust that God loves our children far more than we do and that He cares about their happiness. As parents, by our attitude and by being with them, we have already equipped our children with God’s armor to protect them from the snares and temptations of this world. Now, however, we have a sincere prayer to the Holy Spirit that he may remain the main engine of their further spiritual growth.

We said goodbye to our “Vacation with God”, moved, looking through the car window at the receding green forests, departing cars and said the last words of goodbye. And while we were sad that our stay together was coming to an end, we also know that our adventure with Mary, God and other people has only just begun. Because life is about something more, about the realization and the full conviction that we live, move and always are in God, in every place and at every moment. So we must invite him into every space of our lives and, like St. John Bosco, we must “walk with determination on the ground and dwell in heaven with our hearts.”

Of course, our “Holiday with God” would not be possible without the wonderful organizers of this summer gathering. We would like to thank Katarzyna Pawka for her heart and contribution to the extremely difficult and laborious building of our holiday community so that it would truly be God’s work and bear fruit. We thank our spirit guides – Fr Waldemar Łątkowski CSsR, Fr. Paweł Dziatkiewicz and Sr. Anna Lic – for devoting all their time and strength to us.

We would also like to thank all the parents who have decided to bring their children into our care. Believe us, it was God’s time for your child, not a waste of time! We have done everything we can to make sure that every child feels good with us.

We wish everyone a wonderful holiday, lots of fun admiring God’s works and meeting new inspiring people. We leave you with the words of St. Teresa of Lisieux: “Do not be afraid that you will love Mary too much. You will never love her enough!”

Holidays in 2022 have just started, but if you want to change something in your life, join our “Holiday with God” family. We invite everyone to our family gathering for the coming year on July 2-8 in Lancaster, PA, where we will reflect on St. Józef, patron of families and witness of great cause. Your next vacation can be even better if you live it with God. Because all we have is really just a handful of time that we call life. So let’s experience it well, so that in our daily pursuit we don’t lose what we have most valuable… ourselves and our loved ones.

Meeting by the fire – roasting sausages

Anna and Andrzej Wagner

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