I have a million things I want to write about, however there is a lot of time in my life that I need to spend watching bad TLC reality shows and reading zillions of pages about various anthropological research subjects.
But today I’m gonna try something new. I’ve written about my faith off and on here, but I think I might copy-cat the idea of doing a “Sunday Post” like Jenna at That Wife does. Jenna is a Latter-day Saint and on most Sundays writes a post explaining an aspect of her religion. While most people are a little more familiar with Catholicism, I thought it would be still be an interesting exercise to help share what living life as a Catholic is actually like. There are a variety of portrayals of Catholicism in the media and we have an ever larger variety of people who practice, but hopefully this will present a realistic picture for you.
So today, I want to write about what a Sunday is like for a Catholic.
As you may know, Jews traditionally observed a day of Sabbath – a day of rest from the week’s work to rest and reflect on God. As Christianity was formed, Christians began to observe the Sabbath on Sunday, the day of Christ’s resurrection, rather than Saturday. And thus Sunday was set aside as a day of celebration for the Lord.
First, here’s a few things about what the Catechism says about what Sunday is:
The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life. “Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church.
Just as God “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done,” human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.
Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery. Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly. Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.
So in short: worship, rest, and serve.
Catholics are asked to go to mass every Sunday as the primary way of observing the Sabbath day. As a kid this meant no matter where we were – camping in Yellowstone or traveling in Quebec, we found a parish and went to mass. Didn’t matter that we didn’t know anyone or didn’t speak the language, we were there. While I’m nowhere near perfect, I’ve made it a habit of going weekly to mass as I’ve moved into my own life. I appreciate the silence, the music, the community, the words, the bread, the body. As much as I dread getting out of bed on Sunday morning, it anchors my week.
We are asked to fast the morning of (or at least an hour before!) going to mass as a way to remind ourselves that we are fed through Christ and not through bowls of cereal. But the rest of the day is fair game. It is not a time for fasting, but for feasting. For enjoying and celebrating.
Catholic parishes tend to offer alternatives to the Sunday morning mass – either a Saturday night for those who work on Sundays, or sometimes a Sunday evening mass. In some parishes, the Sunday evening is geared toward teenagers, but in the Jesuit parishes I have been going to for the last few years, the night mass is the “contemplative” or “candlelight” mass. We go occasionally, although we realize that if we do it first thing in the morning we are much more likely to go and if we plan on the later mass we are much more likely to accidentally-on-purpose miss it.
This is one I struggle with. While the Church encourages using Sundays as days of rest, it has never come down as a heavy-handed mandate. For one, “rest” doesn’t mean refrain from doing anything besides reading your Bible and listening to hymns. It means taking comfort in the Lord and celebrating life. We are not forbidden to watch football or required to sit at home. Today, my “rest” was taking a 7 mile hike in God’s creation. My legs are sore but I think it counted.
On the other hand, I have trouble not working. In college, I was actually surprisingly good at this. I don’t know how I made it four years with hardly ever studying on Sundays, but I did. And I loved it. It was a day not to feel guilty for not doing work, not to be busy, just to relax. To simply be.
But now there is a huge pile of laundry to be done, a stack of dishes, and a few hundred pages of reading to be done. Which I could’ve done yesterday…but yesterday we worked out, went to the Farmer’s market, watched Notre Dame (okay that earns some spiritual points!), hung out with family. Maybe I could be more responsible, maybe I could just lay around for the rest of the day and be super stressed next week. Or get my stuff done and see it as a way of serving my (very small) family. Which brings me to my next point….
Um, I’m gonna be honest with you. This isn’t one I really knew we were supposed to be doing on Sundays. But I like the idea. And maybe it will help me feel like I am “using” my Sundays for something other than watching Sister Wives on TLC. Which I’m gonna do this week. I don’t care what football game is on, John. But maybe I can use Sunday afternoons for baking for all of our friends with little babies or knitting on charity projects instead of my stuff. I dunno. Ideas?