Our family is on a mission to keep our Sundays Holy, informed by Scripture and Christian Tradition. In this article, we continue our journey toward God by going on regular nature hikes.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2185, states: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body.”
A Family Nature Hike. This brings us to the Family Hike as an appropriate activity for Sundays. At least 2 Sundays per month during good weather, the entire family goes on a long nature hike (babies, too!). As a habit, we take several hikes a week, but these are often divided, Papa taking the oldest kids one day or Mama taking all the kids on a different day. What makes the Sunday hike special is that we are all together; we see nature together; and we listen to those lessons together.
What are some practical pointers we have learned?
- Check your State’s hiking trail ratings (easy, moderate, difficult), and figure out what your family can handle. Stick to those trails until you are all ready to move to a more difficult level. You’ll be surprised by how far your youngest children can walk!
- Check if there is a half way point that is good for a picnic and rest. It is especially nice to have a safe midway point if you are bringing along toddlers and wish them to stretch their legs (rest for your back as well if you are carrying the toddler in a sling or carrier).
- Make sure everyone is wearing comfortable shoes and has packed a jacket/rain coat for the day.
- Have plenty of food and water on hand. Children and adults who are hiking even a couple of hours outdoors need energy and liquid.
- Check the weather before you go. If there is inclement weather, consider a Keeping Sundays Holy alternative (like the art museum).
How do we make the Hike Holy?
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2186, also states: Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.
This part certainly takes patience, and some days go better than others. We work to maintain a spirit of reverence as we hike together, focusing on the beauty of what we find. We use soft, calm voices, and strive to listen. The hike is always after Mass, so we are able readily to recall the readings and prayers heard at Mass. We might see a river that aids in our discussion of the cleansing of lepers. We might see a dead animal that recalls the story of Samson and the Lion. We might see bees buzzing from flower to flower that remind us of St. Modomnoc. This is also a time to focus in on the family, on how everyone is doing and on what everyone is thinking. While walking, we can have one-on-one conversations with kids and then discuss with one another while the kids explore the surroundings. We are able to reconnect in peace before another 6 days’ work.
“I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight.” ~ Jeremiah 27:5