KEEPING SUNDAY—ALL DAY
Celebrating the Sunday Eucharist—though central and essential—does not complete our observance of Sunday. In addition to attending Mass each Sunday, we should also refrain “from those activities which impede the worship of God and disturb the joy proper to the day of the Lord or the necessary relaxation of mind and body” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 453).
Sunday has traditionally been a day of rest. However, the concept of a day of rest may seem odd in a world that runs 24/7, where we are tethered to our jobs by a variety of electronic gadgets, where businesses run as normal no matter what the day of the week, and where silence seems to be an endangered species. By taking a day each week to rest in the Lord, we provide a living example to the culture that all time belongs to God and that people are more important than things.
As Pope John Paul II said in Dies Domini (The Day of the Lord), his apostolic letter on Sunday:
Through Sunday rest, daily concerns and tasks can find their proper perspective: the material things about which we worry give way to spiritual values; in a moment of encounter and less pressured exchange, we see the true face of the people with whom we live. Even the beauties of nature—too often marred by the desire to exploit, which turns against man him- self—can be rediscovered and enjoyed to the full. (Dies Domini, no. 67)
Not everyone has the freedom to take Sundays away from work. Some people, including medical professionals and public safety workers, must work on Sundays to keep the rest of us safe and healthy. Others must work for economic reasons beyond their control.
Resting on Sunday does not mean that we are inactive. Instead, Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly. 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. (CCC, no. 2186)
To celebrate the Lord’s Day more fully, consider trying the following:
✠ Don’t use Sunday as your catch-all day for errands and household chores.
✠ Share a family dinner after Mass. Have the whole family join in the preparation and cleanup.
✠ Go for a walk or bike ride and give thanks to God for the beauty of nature.
✠ Spend time reading the Bible or a spiritual book.
✠ Pray the Rosary or the Liturgy of the Hours, alone or with others.
✠ Volunteer in a local food pantry.
✠ Visit parishioners and others who are homebound.
✠ Read Bible stories to your children.
✠ Turn off your gadgets and enjoy the silence.
As we take time each week to celebrate the Paschal Mystery in the Eucharist and to rest from the burdens of our daily lives, we remind ourselves that we are made in the image and likeness of God who “rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken” (Gn 2:2).
Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2000.
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006.
Pope John Paul II, On Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy (Dies Domini). www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/ hf_jp-ii_apl_05071998_dies-domini_en.html.
Excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, copyright © 2000, Libreria Editrice Vaticana–United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture texts used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, copyright © 1991, 1986, and 1970 by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, DC 20017 and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All rights reserved.