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Sunday-Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy

Traditional Roman Mass in Picture 1 


Exodus   20:8-10 “Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day. Six days shalt   thou labour, and shalt do all thy works. But on the seventh day is the   sabbath of the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work on it, thou nor thy son,   nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy beast, nor   the stranger that is within thy gates.”

St. John Vianney (the Cure d’Ars) “Sunday is the property of our good   God; it is His own day, the Lord’s day. He made all the days of the week: He   might have kept them all; He has given you six, and has reserved only the   seventh for Himself. What right have you to meddle with what does not belong   to you? You know very well that stolen goods never bring any profit. Nor will   the day that you steal from Our Lord profit you either. I know two very   certain ways of becoming poor: they are working on Sunday and taking other   people’s property.”


  “Sabbath” (or   “Shabbat”) means “cessation,” “rest,” not   “Saturday,” so the accusations against Catholics concerning not   fulfilling God’s Old Testament Commandment  to “keep Sabbath”   are very moot. However, we are neither Old Testament Israelites nor   practitioners of the post-Temple religion known as “Judaism,” so we   don’t keep Friday Nights/Saturday days holy for their own sake, and we don’t   keep kosher, and we don’t worry about carrying pencils or turning off light   switches on the “Sabbath.” We are not under the Mosaic Law (and   Israel has never been under rabbinic law), but we arenot because they were given to Moses,   but because they are the eternal laws of God, written into the hearts of men.   The Sabbath 1, as in “day of rest,”   therefore, we do keep; like the Apostles, we keep it on Sundays, as “the   Lord’s Day,” because it was on a Sunday that Jesus Christ walked out of   His Tomb and proved that He fulfilled the Law.


  God created the world in six days, and then “saw all the things that He   had made, and they were very good.” Then, “on the seventh day God   ended His work which He had made: and He rested on the seventh day from all   His work which He had done.” As He rested on that 7th day, He commanded   Israel to rest with Him.


  But He had that one, final work to do through His Son, Jesus Christ, a work   predicted by the Prophets. This work was completed on the Cross (“It is   consummated,” John 19:30), and now the Sacrifice that allows the   redemption of His now-fallen creation is commemorated and re-presented at the   Mass. On Sunday, our priests offer the unbloody Sacrifice, the   re-presentation of that same once and for all Sacrifice that led to that   glorious Resurrection and, through which, if we accept, we may experience our   own victory over the tomb. The Old Testament Sabbath was but a shadow of the   Lord’s Day to come.


  Keeping the Lord’s Day holy means , above all, going to Mass in order to   fulfill our “Sunday duty” by participating in that Sacrifice. The   truly sick, those who must care for the truly sick, women who’ve given birth   in the past 6 weeks, and children under the age of reason (usually around the   age of 7), are not obliged if their presence would cause undue hardship, but   all should do their best to attend, whether 6 months or 106 years of age   In addition to attending Mass, we are to focus the day on God and His gifts   to us by refraining from “servile work,” which is work that is   necessary for a living. This is opposed to “liberal work” — work   that is recreational, relaxing, of performed out of charity for others. Some   types of work might fall into either category, e.g., working on an old car   might be work for a mechanic, but sheer joy for the car buff; cooking might   be drudgery for the short order cook, but bliss for the woman who truly loves   to cook. There is, then, some subjectivity here, but all Catholics must do   their best to refrain from work that is servile, and arrange with their   employers as much as possible to have Sundays free.


  By the same token, Catholics should refrain from putting others in the   position of performing servile work on Sundays, too. Shopping, eating in   restaurants, going to movies, etc., require that others perform   servile work at shops, restaurants, and cinemas. Stay home, visit private   homes, etc.; don’t encourage others to break God’s commandments. Note that   some professions require work on Sundays, such as some aspects of medicine,   law enforcement, firefighting, etc. — work that is necessary or which serves   charity. This is always allowable on the Lord’s Day, as charity is always the   highest law and the very purpose of law:Matthew 12:1-15

  At that time Jesus went through the corn on the sabbath: and his disciples   being hungry, began to pluck the ears, and to eat. And the Pharisees seeing   them, said to Him: Behold Thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do on   the sabbath days. But He said to them: Have you not read what David did when   he was hungry, and they that were with him: How he entered into the house of   God, and did eat the loaves of proposition, which it was not lawful for him   to eat, nor for them that were with him, but for the priests only? Or have ye   not read in the law, that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple break   the sabbath, and are without blame? But I tell you that there is here a   greater than the temple. And if you knew what this meaneth: I will have   mercy, and not sacrifice: you would never have condemned the innocent. For   the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath.


  And when He has passed from thence, He came into their synagogues. And behold   there was a man who had a withered hand, and they asked Him, saying: Is it   lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse Him. But He said   to them: What man shall there be among you, that hath one sheep: and if the   same fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not take hold on it and lift   it up? How much better is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do a   good deed on the sabbath days. Then He saith to the man: Stretch forth thy   hand; and he stretched it forth, and it was restored to health even as the   other. And the Pharisees going out made a consultation against Him, how they   might destroy Him. But Jesus knowing it, retired from thence: and many   followed Him, and He healed them all.Sundays should be stress-free,   relaxing, and conducive to thanksgiving, to looking at God’s truly   completed work with a “Deo gratias” in our hearts while   strengthened, by the Sacrament we receive at Mass, to pick up our own cross.


  To keep Sundays holy, we should prepare for them — taking the trash out on   Saturday instead of Sunday, throwing together meals 2 on Saturday that can be warmed-up or   baked off on Sunday, ensuring that children have their homework and chores   out of the way, having the house clean, etc. We prepare spiritually, too:   Saturday is the customary day for going to Confession,   a “weekly cleaning” that readies one for the Sunday reception of   the Eucharist.


  Make Sundays a day for something special to the family, something your   children will look forward to.For dinner, have a special   “Sunday food” that pleases all and         becomes a family tradition — a special bread, cake, pie,   or other dessert. Dress it all up with a tablecloth, low lighting,   “nice” (at least pretty) china, a nice wine, and softly-played   music that uplifts or is relevant to your ethnic heritage. At table, mother   can light candles on the table (why not 7 candles in honor of the Sacraments   and Moses’ candelabrum in Exodus 25?). 3


  Don’t forget to begin the meal   with the Prayer before Meals, and end it with the Prayer After Meals (the   latter prays for the faithful departed, and the souls of our ancestors and   loved ones should never be forgotten)! Just after the Prayer Before Meals,   father can ritually bless his children and offer a prayer to sanctify   domestic life. I recommend the following blessing and prayers (which includes   a prayer to the Holy Family and the accclamation from the Introit of 4 June).   Fathers, please consider praying these prayers in Latin!                                                                                           

   Prayer     before Meals   

   Benedic, Domine, nos et haec tua     dona quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.     Amen.   

   Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy     gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ, Our     Lord, amen.       

   Father’s     (or Mother’s) Blessing for Children   

   May     Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, bless you, my child(ren), for     time and eternity, and may this blessing remain forever with you. Amen


   Prayer     to the Holy Family, and Acclamation,
Before Eating Sunday Dinner

   Domine Iesu Christe, qui Mariae     et Ioseph subditus, domesticam vitam ineffabilibus virtutibus consecrasti:     fac nos, utriusque auxilio, Familiae sanctae tuae exemplis instrui et     consortium consequi sempiternum: Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.     Amen.



    Quam bonus Israel Deus: his, qui recto sunt corde!   

   Lord Jesus Christ, Who, being     made subject to Mary and Joseph, didst consecrate domestic life by Thine     ineffable virtues; grant that we, with the assistance of both, may be     taught by the example of Thy Holy Family and may attain to its everlasting     fellowship. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.


    How good is God to Israel: to     them that are of a right heart!


   Prayer     after Meals   

   Agimus tibi gratias, omnipotens     Deus, pro universis beneficiis tuis, qui vivis et regnas in saecula     saeculorum. Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace.     Amen.   

   We give Thee thanks for all Thy     benefits, O Almighty God, Who livest and reignest forever. And may the     souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.     Amen.   

 Adopting practices that are done only on Sundays so that the   day is set apart from all others in a very special way. Some suggestions:

    Pray with one another, especially the        Rosary

    • Play with one another (invest in some really fun        board games, especially the kind that invites conversation — or make up        your own! See the bottom of this page for a few        ideas.)

    • Read to each other and with one another (why        not engage in a little Lectio Divina?)… Read plays with each        person taking a part, have Storytime (there is nothing better than being        read to, and when children are read to, it encourages them to read!)

    • Have a picnic

    • Have a Cream        Tea on Sunday afternoons. Invite other Catholics over and        socialize a bit.

    • Buy or cut fresh flowers on Saturday to adorn the        house through the week

    • Take a walk in the park

    • Build a bonfire

    • Sing together, otherwise make music together — and        listen to great music together       

    • Engage in crafts together

    • Turn off the TV altogether, or, if you        “must,” watch older movies, or listen to radio shows which        invite more imagination

    Take time to breathe deeply and   watch your children playing in the yard, thinking to yourself, “This is   good. Very good. Thank you, God.”


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