Tag Archives: Holidays

On Not Doing Anything


Very sorry for the big lull, readers; for the past week, I’ve been absorbed with doing not very much. Yes, that’s right: no Internet connection, not checking your phone for days on end, with my family hidden deep in a forest. Wildlife, sports, leisurely meals, lots of family time.

Since the gap, I also have a lot to share with you from our Triduum, but more on that later.

I’m not promoting idleness, but a break from schedules, early alarm clocks, planning and productivity can do wonders for being human, don’t you think?

When Blessed John Paul II was bishop of Kracow in 1962, he gave a retreat to university students. It is a deeply inspiring series of meditations. One of the first talks speaks of how, in life, there are things of relative importance and things of absolute importance. We ourselves can experience being of relative importance: we discover after doing something well in our work that we are esteemed one day, then passed over the next. When in the middle of an important project, it takes on the status of absolute importance only to be largely forgotten about a few months down the line.

Only in prayer do we discover the one thing that is of absolute importance. When we go on retreat, we engage in the one thing of absolute importance: ourselves in relation to God.

The then Karol Wojtyla put it like this:

“There is no gathering in which each one of us is more wholly himself and has a fuller sense of his own selfhood and his own absolute importance than he has here [on retreat].”

Holidays are similar, I find. Within our families, we are cherished for who we are, not what we can achieve. In relaxing, we rediscover our identity formed in relation with those we love. Being together with no rushing, no deadlines, no using of relationships for our own ends, in some way recreates us. After all, who are we but the relations that we have with others?

Holidays, as well as moments to be together, also need to give us moments of no rushing, no deadlines, with our Creator. He is the One who makes us new. I think sometimes that if I come back to London after a holiday feeling pampered and indulged, but no closer to Him, what’s the point?

Finally, GK Chesterton thought that doing nothing was a “rare and precious” thing. Here is what he writes in his Autobiography:

When given the gift of loneliness, which is the gift of liberty, [such men who do not appreciate the freedom of having nothing to do] will cast it away; they will destroy it deliberately with some dreadful game with cards or a little ball. I speak only for myself; I know it takes all sorts to make a world; but I cannot repress a shudder when I see them throwing away their hard-won holidays by doing something. For my own part, I never can get enough Nothing to do.

He probably wouldn’t have approved of our canoeing this week, but definitely sitting around the table after lunch Doing Nothing.


August is all about HOLIDAYS and I will be out of the parish now until (a very busy) September. In just a few hours I’ll be heading off on holiday number one with some family and friends. Here is a beautiful passage from the Holy Father, which expresses my hopes for this month:

“In this summer period many have left the city and find themselves at tourist sites or in their homeland for their vacations. My wish for them is that this awaited rest serve to strengthen their mind and body, which, given the hectic course of modern existence, daily undergoes a continuous fatigue and strain. The holidays also afford a precious opportunity to spend more time with relatives, to visit family and friends, in a word, to give more space to those human contacts whose desired cultivation is impeded by the rhythm of daily duties. For many, vacation time becomes a profitable occasion for cultural contacts, for prolonged moments of prayer and of contemplation in contact with nature or in monasteries and religious structures. Having more free time, one can dedicate oneself more easily to conversation with God, meditation on Sacred Scripture, and reading some useful, formative book. Those who experience this spiritual repose know how useful it is not to reduce vacations to mere relaxation and amusement.”

Don’t you love him?! It is true that when we go on holiday our daily structure goes out of the window and we often forget about prayer and spiritual reading. But the Pope is saying we need to pray and read Scripture MORE – this is a real test of where our love lies!

Will be soon somewhere near here....!

Very soon I’m heading off somewhere quite near the Holy Father’s homeland 🙂 and looking forward to seeing him later this month in Madrid. Happy holidays!