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Saturday, November 12, 2011
Kids need the Sabbath
Many of us set aside time aside to attend church on the weekend. But do you keep the Sabbath? Do you teach your children to keep the Sabbath? What am I talking about here? I am talking about setting time aside for God and family. Most of us do a pretty decent to good job of setting aside time for God and Church, but what about setting time aside on the Sabbath for our families or ourselves?
When I was growing up stores were closed on Sundays. All of them, grocery stores and even the Mall. Shopping was just not done on the Sundays. somewhere about my teens the Blue Laws as they called them started to relax. It allowed for grocery stores to be open, as groceries were a necessity. However they did not open until noon or 1pm and closed by 5 or 6pm. Now today drive by any Shopping Center parking lot and you will find that Sunday is perhaps the busiest day of the week. There was a time in our marriage and family life that we joined the crowds on Sunday. It was church out to lunch and shopping. We would get home somewhere about 3pm. When I realized that we had no down time on Sundays, no real family time I decided to make a change in that.
For many Sunday has blended into Saturday and is called "the weekend." Many of us do go to church but for just as many. Sunday is just another weekend day to get the shopping done, or watch a football game. I understand the demands of the week for many of us. For some of us we see Sundays as a bonus weekend day, a day to catch up on those things we did not get done during the week. While we can not change how our American society treats Sundays we can as families and individuals set aside Sunday as a day that for worship, for family, for rest and recreation, and for charitable acts, not for business (and especially not for non-essential, unpaid work so often demanded by corporate employers on that day).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that 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."96 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.97
The Sunday obligation
As Catholics we have an obligation to attend and participate in the Mass. We must make time on Sundays for Mass, As a practicing Catholic, I follow the percept to attend Mass first and foremost on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. I believe that Sunday should be set aside not only for mass but for family time. Much to my chagrin I have had fellow parishioners tell me they were not going to mass because they were going to a soccer game or a birthday party, or needed to go grocery shopping and they could not fit mass in. Seriously?!! Living near the city there is practically a mass and hour here. If going to another mass is not an option go late to the birthday party. What sort of message are you sending when you put your social life or grocery or Christmas shopping ahead of God? The Catholic Catechism goes on to say that those who do not attend mass (except those excused for a serious reason) commit a grave sin.
A Rhythm of Work and Rest
We as humans crave a rhythm of work and rest. This need is ingrained in our very core. In setting aside a day of rest for everyone it allows us to recharge our batteries, we are able to make time for not only physical rest, but we are able to cultivate our cultural and social lives. The Catholic Catechism states that on Sundays and other holy days of obligations the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body.123
Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse a person from the obligation of Sunday rest. Most families need to eat. There was a time when I did not cook on Sundays, because I was cooking 3 meals a day 6 days a week, we used Sunday as our Leftover Buffet. It is good to give ourselves a break on Sundays. I certainly enjoy taking a break from laundry and other big jobs at home on Sundays. As a general rule I opt not to spend my time catching up on laundry or house cleaning on Sundays. We try to set aside the afternoon for family time, weather permitting, doing something outside.
The Sabbath and Family Time
In the Catholic church Sunday is traditionally consecrated by good works and humble service to the sick, infirm and elderly. Thus you will see Deacons and others taking the Eucharist to those who are not able to attend mass. As Christians we are called to spend time devoted to our families and relatives. Many families still carry on the tradition of Sunday dinners. In our case our family is too far flung to gather on Sundays. But we do take time to gather with those in our Church family and have set aside Sundays for family time. Growing up I remember well one family that religiously set aside Sundays explicitly for church and family. Children were not to visit their friends on Sundays, or get jobs that would require them to work on Sundays.
Taking Time to remember those less fortunate on Sundays
Catholic catechism states that we are to keep the Sabbath Holy. But it also states that we should be mindful of our brothers who have the same need for rest and relaxation on Sundays but who cannot because they must work. Many of those in public service fall into this category, firemen, paramedics, police. We must also consider those who must work to provide for their family’s basic needs, of food and shelter. . Today it is often necessary for those who earn the least to work 2 or more jobs and many of them end up working at business that are open 24/7. Instead of having disdain for those who need to work to supply the basics for their family we should work to help those who need assistance. There are many ways you can remember those less fortunate than ourselves. It humbles me to think that no matter how bad I think we have had things that there is always someone who has had it worse then me. If you don’t think that there is someone who has it worse than you, volunteer at a local shelter, or food bank.
Keeping the Sabbath Holy
Catholic Catechism states that every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would make it difficult for them to observe the Sabbath. Some people may need to work on Sundays for the good of others, i.e., police, firemen. As managers and business owners that means accommodating people taking off time on the weekend for church and rest. I am not suggesting that all businesses need to close on Sunday, but I am suggesting that employers they try to accommodate their workers so that they have enough time off for church relaxation or leisure and time to spend with families.
I know it is not easy to always keep the Sabbath a day of rest, but we must do our best to set aside time for our faith and families, for it is up to us to teach our children how to keep the day special.