"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
"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 are New Testament
Israel, bound to obey the two great commandments -- to love God with all
our heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves
-- said two great commandments simply being more explicit in the Ten
Commandments, which we are bound to -- not 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
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
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 (see
Missing Mass, & Spiritual
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:
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.
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
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?).
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!
nos et haec tua dona quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi. Per Christum Dominum
Bless us, O Lord,
and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through
Christ, Our Lord, amen.
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.
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!
Agimus tibi gratias,
omnipotens Deus, pro universis beneficiis tuis, qui vivis et regnas in saecula
saeculorum. Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace.
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
I strongly urge 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
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
Build a bonfire
otherwise make music together -- and listen to great music together
Engage in crafts
Turn off the TV
altogether, or, if you "must," watch older movies, or listen to radio shows
which invite more imagination (see these pages, offsite:
and Old Time Radio for Downloading
or Listening Online. Will open in new browser window)
Take time to breathe
deeply and watch your children playing in the yard, thinking to yourself,
"This is good. Very good. Thank you, God."
Please see this page to read a lovely
article by Sabine Barnhart about her memories of Sundays in Germany.
The article, originally published at LewRockwell.com (and duplicated here
with Mrs. Barnhart's permission), captures something of the "spirit of Sundays"
and conveys what I'm trying to express about setting Sundays apart and making
And read about Sundays in a piece written by
Maria Von Trapp (of the Trapp Family Singers, "Sound of Music" fame).
See also the Mass's
Attire and Etiquette page for tips on
getting your children to pay attention and be still during Mass.
1 Most Catholics tend not to use the word "Sabbath"
in reference to the Lord's Day, but typically use it instead to refer only
to the Jewish Sabbath. Also note that because Christians use the term "Lord's
Day" instead of "Sabbath," and because Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath,
"Sabbatum," in Latin, means "Saturday."
2 For foods that can be prepared on Saturday for
Sunday eating, think stratas, casseroles, crockpot foods, sauces you can
pour over a quickly prepared pasta, etc. (Oh, the spaghetti feasts my Grandma
prepared on Sundays!) For a whole slew of crockpot recipes, try
this page (offsite, will open in new browser window).
One classic slow-cooking food is a stew prepared by followers of modern Judaism
for their Sabbath so that it is in the oven by sundown on Friday, a stew
called "Cholent." Here is one recipe -- and it uses only one dish to prepare
+ 1 to soak the beans:
2 lbs (fatty beef brisket or rib)
3 tablespoons light vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced
3-5 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
2 marrow bones
2 lbs potatoes, peeled, whole if small, quartered if medium
½ lb dried white haricot, navy or butter beans, soaked for a few hours
½ cup pearl barley
Salt and pepper
In a large heavy ovenproof pot or casserole with a tightly fitting lid, brown
the meat in the oil. Remove it, and fry the onions until soft. Add the garlic
and fry until golden (don't let it get brown or it will get bitter). Return
the meat to the pot, add the marrow bones, and arrange the potatoes, beans,
and barley around it, sprinkling each layer with salt and pepper.
Cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove the scum, then put the lid on
very tightly, covering the opening first with aluminum foil. Leave in a
225ºF oven overnight (18-24 hours). Serve in soup bowls along with a
red wine and the standard crusty bread.
...and when you're done eating, linger at the table. Leave the dishes to
soak; you'll get to them tomorrow (better yet, you could have each family
member clean his or her own dish; that way it'd be an act of charity on their
part, always allowable on the Lord's Day." <wink>
3 Don't confuse the Mosaic
7-branched candlestick (a menorah) with the 8- or 9-branched channukiah (usually
mistakenly also called a menorah) that post-Temple Jews use during Channukah