Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

Summer: A time for safety and salvation

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Rev. Phi Nguyen, from administrator of St. Henry Parish, North Hoyne Avenue, to pastor of same.

Rev. Francisco Ortega Muñoz, from administrator of Sacred Heart Parish, Melrose Park, to pastor of same.

Rev. Carlos Paulo Pereira, S.F.X., from associate pastor of St. Peter Parish, Skokie, to associate pastor of St. Isaac Jogues Parish, Niles.

Rev. Xamie Reyes, from associate pastor of Holy Innocents Parish, North Armour Street, to chaplain of Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital, La Grange.

Rev. Fred Pesek, from pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Wadsworth, to sabbatical, effective June 30 to Dec. 31.

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.”

George Gershwin’s lyrics from “Porgy and Bess” easily come to mind during the early days of summer. These are the days to relax and enjoy the gifts and growth of nature around us. Summer is a time to take a break from the demands made on us throughout the year.

People in the United States are known to be the hardest working and most productive in the world. We all need these months to replenish our energies and find refreshment for our tired bodies and souls. This is also true for those who work the land. Yet, that should not make us less vigilant about our safety and our salvation.

Children young and old look forward to summer. For many of us it means trips to the ice cream shop, days spent at the pool or lake and bike rides around the neighborhood. All of these activities make us feel carefree during the summer months. However, emergency- room doctors refer to these days as the “trauma season.”

Statistics reveal some sobering information. Accidental injury is the No. 1 killer of America’s children, taking more lives than disease, violence or suicide. This summer nearly 3 million children under the age of 16 will be rushed to emergency rooms to be treated for serious injuries resulting from motor-vehicle accidents, bike crashes, pedestrian incidents, falls and other dangerous situations.

Nearly 3,000 of these children will die from their injuries; most of their deaths will be caused by motor-vehicle accidents. Nearly onehalf of the fatal crashes involving children occur in rural settings and onefourth of those crashes are alcohol-related. Even more disturbing is the fact that 50 percent of fatally injured children were not using seat belts or riding in car seats.

The sad thing about all of these statistics is that 90 percent of all summer accidents involving children can be prevented. So, my first words of caution are: “Do not take a vacation from safety.” Close supervision, the use of proper restraints and protective gear, and other simple preventive steps can help make this summer a safe and happy one for our children and their families. Let us also not forget to keep the safety of our children in our daily prayers.

Pastors from around the country have been reporting a phenomenon that has been occurring in the Catholic Church in recent years; people are taking a vacation from going to Mass in the summer months. Perhaps families relate going to Mass with catechetical programs or maybe they feel they need time off from the routine of the other months of the year.

It is true that summer is a vacation season, a time of rest and a time to recharge our batteries, so to speak. We do this by spending time with our loved ones, who help us put things in perspective.

Believers are no different in this regard. We, too, need rest and refreshment, which we know comes from the Lord and our encounters with him in prayer. St. Augustine had this in mind when he said, “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in you.” Participation in the Sunday Eucharist is an obligation for every practicing Catholic. It is an obligation we owe not only to God, but to ourselves, and yes, to others.

The Catholic churches in the Chicago area welcome many visitors during the summer months. It is edifying that so many of our fellow Catholics attend Sunday Mass, even though they are far from home. We owe it to them to be present at Mass when they visit. I know that many of you enjoy meeting people from around the world who come to tour our beautiful area.

As Catholics we belong to more than just our parish — we are members of a universal church. Therefore, we are never strangers when we meet with other Catholics to celebrate the Eucharist on the day of the Lord’s Resurrection. We need the nourishment our faith gives us and we need to take seriously our vocation to nourish others. In short, we can never take a vacation from our vocation.

Let us all make a commitment to our children and our families this summer — to assure both their safety and their salvation.