The Lord's Day
During this year of focus on consecrated life, we’ve been called to be more aware of the gift of the consecrated in our midst: nuns, sisters, brothers, Religious order priests, and consecrated women. These folks are called to live for God in a radical way the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Today, we live the scandal that the Church Jesus founded and desired to be one (John 17:21) is now splintered into 37,000 denominations. This is the fruit of the mindset that places personal preference (each man must interpret the Bible for himself) over obedience to the Word of God. If you don’t like the rules, just start your own church.
Our task as maturing Christians is to obey God and his Church, even when it is inconvenient or uncomfortable. One area we see this playing out today is the practice of even devout Catholics ignoring the Sabbath. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1193, reminds us: Sunday, the "Lord's Day," is the principal day for the celebration of the Eucharist (Mass) because it is the day of the Resurrection. It is the pre-eminent day of the liturgical assembly, the day of the Christian family, and the day of joy and rest from work.
So it’s not just about making it to Mass on Sunday. It’s about rest!
The Catechism teaches: "On Sundays, the faithful are bound to abstain from those labors and business concerns, which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord's Day or the proper relaxation of mind and body. The institution of Sunday helps all to be allowed sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives (2193-4)."
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a whole day of rest: prayer, relaxation, time with friends and family? The part of each of us that yearns for that rest was placed there by God when he created us and modeled it for us (Genesis 2:2).
This is the way God designed us and commanded us to live. Our response to the Lord is to obey. Catching up with laundry, shopping, homework, yard work, and making others do likewise is not the purpose of Sunday, and is ordinarily a disobedience, and ignoring God’s Word, a sin. Some, because of their jobs (the Bible mentions priests specifically!) must do some work on Sundays. That is unavoidable. But most of the working and shopping we see happening on the Lord’s Day is the fruit of un-reflected choice.
This is certainly an inconvenient command from God. And yet, remember: God does not call us to convenience, but to joy and blessing.
That is the fruit of obedience….