June 8, 2002
Keep Holy the Lord's Day
"When we ponder, O Christ, the marvels accomplished on this day, the Sunday of Your holy resurrection, we say: 'Blessed is Sunday, for on it began creation...the world's salvation...the renewal of the human race...On Sunday heaven and earth rejoiced and the whole universe was filled with light. Blessed is Sunday, for on it were opened the gates of paradise so that Adam and all the exiles might enter it without fear'" (Fanqîth quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1167).
"The rediscovery of this day is a grace which we must implore, not only so that we may live the demands of faith to the full, but also so that we may respond concretely to the deepest human yearnings. Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained" (Day of the Lord, Pope John Paul II, 7).
We should keep holy the Lord's Day:
1. because it's a commandment.
The martyrs of Abitina, in Proconsular Africa "replied to their accusers: 'Without fear of any kind we have celebrated the Lord's Supper because it cannot be missed; that is our law;' 'we cannot live without the Lord's Supper'" (Day of the Lord, Pope John Paul II, 46).
2. because we need the rest.
"Sunday rest then becomes 'prophetic', affirming not only the absolute primacy of God, but also the primacy and dignity of the person with respect to the demands of social and economic life" (Day of the Lord, Pope John Paul II, 68).
3. because it's good for our physical and psychological health.
God created us with an interior rhythm. If we live accordingly, we will be blessed. "Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord's Day, in which our life is blessed by Him and by His death" (St. Ignatius of Antioch, quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2175).
4. because it's good for our families and Christian communities.
"For Christian families, the Sunday assembly is one of the most outstanding expressions of their identity and their 'ministry' as 'domestic churches', when parents share with their children at the one Table of the word and of the Bread of Life" (Day of the Lord, Pope John Paul II, 36).
5. because it prevents us from becoming slaves to our work.
"The Lord's Day is the original feast day, and it should be proposed to the piety of the faithful and taught to them in such a way that it may become in fact a day of joy and of freedom from work" (Liturgy, Vatican II, 106).
6. because it helps us know our true identity.
"The celebration of the Christian Sunday remains, on the threshold of the Third Millennium, an indispensable element of our Christian identity" (Day of the Lord, Pope John Paul II, 30).
7. because it is a day of victory.
Jesus was victorious over death on Sunday. On this day, the Lord rallies His army to unite, heal, and empower them. If we don't claim Jesus' victory, the devil keeps us on the run, and we spend our weekends trying to escape from reality. John proclaimed: "On the Lord's day I was caught up in ecstasy" (Rv 1:10).
8. because it strengthens our prayer life.
Sunday Mass should be the highlight of the week. "Leave everything on the Lord's Day", urges the third century text known as the Didascalia, "and run diligently to your assembly, because it is your praise of God" (Day of the Lord, Pope John Paul II, 46). Also, old-fashioned Sunday vespers is still a good idea (Liturgy, Vatican II, 100).
9. because it opens our minds to the Scriptures (Lk 24:45).
The Lord spent the first Easter Sunday afternoon and evening teaching the Scriptures (Lk 24:32).
10. because "Sonday" centers our lives on Jesus' resurrection.
"Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, He Who in His great mercy gave us new birth; a birth unto hope which draws its life from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pt 1:3). We celebrate the resurrection of His physical body, our bodies, and His body the Church. "Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, it is the day of Christians, it is our day" (St. Jerome, quoted in Day of the Lord, 2). "The day of Christ's Resurrection is both the first day of the week, the memorial of the first day of creation, and the 'eighth day,' on which Christ after His 'rest' on the great sabbath inaugurates the 'day that the Lord made,' the 'day that knows no evening'" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1166).
"The Christian Sunday is wholly other! Springing from the Resurrection, it cuts through human time, the months, the years, the centuries, like a directional arrow which points them towards their target: Christ's Second Coming. Sunday foreshadows the last day" (Day of the Lord, Pope John Paul II, 75).
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, April 12, 1999.
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 14, 1999.