Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work.
(Third Commandment from Catechism of the Catholic Church).
Maybe this important commandment has long been forgotten by most people, however, I remember a time when it was honored and obeyed. My memories flood back to a time of innocence. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time, but truly it was compared to today. We attended school all week, played with friends after doing chores on Saturdays, then mass and Family Time (with capital letters) on Sundays.
It was easy to fulfill our Sunday obligation. We all went to the early mass and then “rested” on the Sabbath. My father made sure we spent time with the family. We usually did not watch television, but “rested” as a family. After mass, mom would serve a big meal: usually roast beef and potatoes. Then the Krilich household was abuzz with excitement or arguments following family recreation including, Monopoly, checkers, baseball, or just reading books.
At times, I truly was bored…”Ugh! Not another checkers game!” I wanted to be out with my friends. That was permitted, but not till most of the day past. I did not appreciate it then, but now I truly do.
Many stores were closed, so you didn’t shop on Sundays. Now, however, Sunday has just become another workday. If we are not at work, we certainly are “working” at home. Every conceivable form of entertainment and shopping is available on Sundays. Just more busy-ness to distract us from God and the ones we love.
Society has not made it easy. A myriad of sporting events occur on Sunday. Baseball games, even at Catholic schools on Sundays, make it nearly impossible to “rest.” For many years I have sat through games on Mother’s/Father’s days, Holy Saturday, and Pentecost all so the league can stay on schedule. I strongly urge leagues especially Catholic or any Christian denomination to stop the practice of Sunday games/practice.
Why did God in all His wisdom make this a commandment? God rested on the seventh day, after creating the world. If the Creator of the Universe rested, why shouldn’t we? Our bodies need rest, our minds need rest, our souls need time to rest and refuel for the week ahead.
St. Pope John Paul, the Great said it best:
God’s action is the model for human action. If God “rested and was refreshed” on the seventh day, man too ought to “rest” and should let others, especially the poor, “be refreshed.” The sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money, (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2172).
As a teen and young adult, I ignored the commandment: going to restaurants, working, filling myself with scads of mindless entertainment on Sundays. This really amounted to my one-hour mass obligation and a few prayers. The Sabbath didn’t change my outlook or my soul, it was often an obligation.
While in deep prayer at a Marian shrine one year, I felt Our Lady urging me, “Honor the Sabbath.” I was ashamed that I had treated God’s holy day like an afterthought. The experience was so strong that my husband and I began our new marriage honoring the Sabbath.
We made necessary changes to honor the Sabbath. I tried to complete all necessary chores by Saturday — food shopping, laundry, work prep and even made lunches, so I could dial it down on Sunday. Outside entertainment was curtailed to family or friend visits. However, we did allow “entertainment/activity” if it was a church function.
At times I have fallen away from our promise, but definitely, I do try to get necessary work done by Saturday so I can relax on Sunday. Also, I feel God takes care of me when I follow His commandment.
Honestly, sometimes I really screw up and go shopping, usually out of necessity. As an adult, my husband and I try to avoid restaurants, movies, etc. because it involves having someone else work on Sundays.
Sometimes, it still gets boring. I want to run! I try, however, to savor the moment. As Americans, I think we’ve lost the art of R and R. We fill our lives with activity even to the point of offending God on Sunday.
Some people have no choice. They must work Sundays — doctors, nurses, emergency personnel, or flight attendants. The list goes on. It is then a good idea to ask your local bishop how best to honor the Sabbath in these cases. However, I have always encouraged our children to tell their employers that we go to mass on Sundays and cannot work. Most times, God has come through. Many employers understood while others did not.
I get a better perspective on things when I rest my mind for a day. I usually do not get on the computer on Sundays – definitely no internet! Next, I surely would like to decrease my texting on Sundays as well.
Try it for yourself! You will feel more energized for the week. Perhaps add in the family rosary or Scripture reading. I hope you gleaned some ideas for keeping holy the Sabbath. Got to go for now, as it is nearly the Sabbath (Saturday@10:30 pm).
©Mary Mitchell, 2017