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Catechesis on keeping the Sabbath holy! August 20, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Christendom, Domestic Church, General Catholic, Interior Life, Sacraments, sanctity, Tradition, Virtue.

I was gratified that many readers seemed to find the catechesis against cussing and taking the Lord’s Name in vain helpful.  I thought this further section on a different subject- honoring the Sabbath and keeping it holy – equally helpful.  There is a lot of good material, I may have to break it into two posts.  Again from the “Spirago-Clarke Catechism,” I found a number of points below either new to me, or better explained than any I had seen before.  I pray you find this helpful!

Sunday was appointed by the Apostles as the day of rest instead of the Sabbath, because Christ rose form the dead on a Sunday.

Sunday is a festival of the Holy Trinity; for on the first day of the week God the Father began the work of creation, God the Son rose from the dead, and God the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles. The Apostles were authorized to transfer the day of rest form Saturday to Sunday, because……..the Old Law was but a shadow of the new……..

….We are bound on Sunday to abstain from servile work and to assist at the public Mass; we ought, moreover, to employ this day in providing for the salvation of our soul, that is to say by approaching the Sacraments, by prayer, hearing sermons, reading spiritual books, and performing works of mercy.

Servile work is that which entails severe physical exertion, and is exhausting to the bodily strength.  It is the work generally done by servants, menials, artisans, and laborers……..Markets and all commercial transactions are included in the prohibition; yet, in deference to local customs, the rule is relaxed in some countries.  However, buying and selling must not be carried on during the hours of divine worship. [A couple of comments: I have been assured by some traditional priests that doing things like going out to eat, or visiting a museum (that require other people to work) is OK on a Sunday. But I know others who feel that this is not OK.  Regarding the hours of divine worship, which is an interesting and I think poignant distinction, so many parishes offer Mass all day on Sunday by necessity.  So would this prohibition vary by parish boundary or just be confined to the primary hours of worship (morning) or?]  As God rested on the seventh day, so we ought to rest.  As Christ on Easter Sunday left the grave-clothes in the sepulcher and rose triumphant, so we ought to lay aside our earthly business, and on the pinions of prayer soar aloft to God.  Physical repose is necessary, because it is impossible for one who is greatly fatigued to pray well.   Public worship is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, generally accompanied by a sermon……..There is no act of Christian worship that can compare in dignity and value with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  On Sunday we ought to provide for the interests of our soul; physical rest is ordained in order that we may labor more diligently for our spiritual welfare; and we must not content ourselves with putting on better clothes, but must cleanse and adorn our hearts.  The cessation from the work of the week gives an opportunity to the faithful, in compliance with the mind of the Church, to approach the Sacraments.  They are encouraged to receive Holy Communion on Sundays and Holy days, and to give themselves to prayer; for this reason afternoon services are held, and the churches stand open for private devotions.  Our forefathers used to read spiritual books, homilies on the Gospel for the day, and the lives of the Saints.  Many of our Lord’s miracles of healing were wrought on the Sabbath day.  By this He intended to teach us to do good works on Sundays…….The cessation from labor on the seventh day foreshadows our eternal rest in Heaven.  By solemnizing the day of the Lord we renew and quicken our longing for the unending festival of joy above.  The very fact that we wear our best apparel on that day serves to remind us of the celestial happiness that we hope will one day be our portion.  [The Fathers saw implications in this: those who dressed their finest for Mass (and with the correct humble disposition) were seen to be better prepared/inclined towards salvation, as they were already anticipating the eternal joy.  Those who dress improperly, especially immodestly, reveal themselves to be mired in attachments to the world]

The work permitted on holy days of obligation is 1) servile work that is absolutely necessary, especially works of mercy; 2) light and trifling work; 3) occupations of an intellectual nature; 4) reasonable recreation

We are not forbidden to do work that is absolutely necessary.  Our Lord does not desire man to suffer on account of the Sunday rest, for He says: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mk ii:27).  All work may be done which is required for the support of life; we may have our food prepared, and are allowed to gather in our crops if weather threatens their destruction. [Two points: having food prepared may be the justification for going to a restaurant on Sunday.  Also, the family who farms our land has refused to work on Sunday going back 100 years or more.  That used to frustrate my grandfather, but they maintain they have never lost a crop for not working on Sunday] All work that is indispensable for the public service may be carried on; railroad, airlines, telephone, police, hospital staff, etc.  Ecclesiastical authorities have the power to grant special permission for servile work to be done on Sunday, if there is sufficient reason.  Christ says: “The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath also,” and the Church, His representative, can say the same.  And as the chief and primary object for which Sunday is instituted is to promote the spiritual welfare and eternal salvation of mankind, all works tending to this end are enjoined upon us.…….Works of mercy are also enjoined; nothing is more profitable to salvation than these, for on them our eternal fate depends (Mt xxv:25).  We have Christ’s example and precept also for the performance of charitable works on Sunday: “It is lawful to do a good deed on the Sabbath day” (Lk xii:12)…….Yet it must also be remembered that only such servile work as is absolutely necessary is permitted, although its object be a charitable one.  For it is lawful to do all servile work without distinction which was for the benefit of the poor, all artisans and laborers might go on with their work, and that would be by no means permissible (Suarez)……..Occupations of an unimportant kind can be engaged in, God does not require us to sit idle on Sundays; besides writing, music, and all the mental employments are lawful.  Sunday is also instituted as a day of rest; on it we may freely enjoy innocent diversions.  [What about highly active contact sports?  This is not addressed, there weren’t many around when this catechism was written?  Just wondering, are NFL Sunday games a violation of the Sabbath?]

The precept enjoining upon us to sanctify the Sunday is transgressed by doing or requiring others to perform servile work.

The Christian ought to allow his servants and even his cattle, to rest on the Sunday (Ex xx:10). [Alright you people, give your butlers, maids, cooks, stewards, footmen, etc. the day off!  I know most of you are just lousy with servants waiting on your every need] Servants, apprentices, and all who are in a subordinate position, ought not to remain in a situation where they cannot fulfill their religious obligations.  Servile work is a mortal sin, if it be done for more than two or three hours on Sunday without urgent necessity.  Yet hard work, if done for a shorter time, or light work for the same time, is not mortal sin; nor is it so if a very valid reason is counted on as an excuse, nor again if a servant does what his master, without cogent grounds, requires of him, through fear of evil consequences to himself…….If scandal is given by doing servile work, even for a short time, it is a grievous sin.  Our Lord says of one who gives scandal, “it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged around his neck and that he should be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Mt xviii:6).

The precept enjoining upon us to sanctify Sunday is transgressed by carelessness about attendance at public worship.  

The precept enjoining upon us to sanctify Sunday is transgressed by indulging in diversions which are over-fatiguing, or which are of a sinful nature.

Games which involve much physical exertion, hunting, dancing, etc., ought to be avoided on Sunday; also those which lead to anything unseemly; brawls, extravagant expenditure, disinclination for work. [Does “ought to be avoided” = sinful?] Worse still, if the amusements are sinful in themselves; for whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin (Jn viii:34).  Wor to him who chooses the day which is consecrated to divine worship to offend against God an injure his own soul most deeply.  Some people take advantage of the day of rest to indulge more freely in vice.  On Sundays, the devil tempts many to all manner of sin, pride and ostentation in dress, gambling, dancing, excess in eating and drinking…….To spend the Lord’s Day in worldly vanities amounts to a kind of sacrilege, to desecrate it by sin is worse than plundering the sanctuary.

———End Quote———

We try to make Sunday a special day, for the kids but also all of us.  I’m an obsessive-compulsive hard-charger get things done type (what?  you couldn’t tell?) so I have to keep myself from turning Sunday into Saturday Mk. II.  So I’ve committed to spending most of the afternoon with one kid each Sunday, rotating through them all.  I hope it is as meaningful to them as it is to me.

Enough for today.  Tomorrow I’ll have a post to complete the subject.  It will be much shorter.  Thank you for your patience!





1. David - August 20, 2015


Back when you and I were kids in the 70s and 80s, I recall occasionally having soccer and baseball games on Sundays (we had swim meets in the summer almost every Saturday morning) but I never remember any games being scheduled on Sunday before 1:00 pm, which gave time for the kids and the parents to attend worship services. Today, friends tell me that their kids often have sports games scheduled as early as 9:00 am on Sunday.

Tantumblogo - August 20, 2015

Oh yeah, it’s true. We skip them. Yes I umpired for years and Sunday games started at 1, never earlier. Academy/select soccer tournies start at 8am some Sundays and the coaches want the players there by 7, then the tournament runs all day.

Baseballmom - August 20, 2015

With 7 boys who played baseball and a princess who was on softball tournament teams we struggled often with the weekend schedule. Watching (for us) and playing (for the boys and the princess) was great enjoyment. That said, coaches always knew that our kids were going to get to Mass, we would look at the schedule and figure out how to do that…. I know many a family that skipped “church” (non-Catholics) for their other god…. Sports.

2. tg - August 20, 2015

Good post. I used to shop on Sundays but I don’t anymore except on a rare occasion. When I lived in the country, I would stop at the store because it was convenient for me to do so after Mass. I thought of what Jesus said about the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. I do wash clothes on Sunday – the machine is doing the work. I saw in a sedevacanist website (didn’t know it was one) that it was a sin to wash your clothes. The cooking I do wouldn’t count as cooking to most people.

3. Angelic Doctor Games - August 20, 2015

Reblogged this on The Unfinished Tales of a Hunt County Catholic and commented:
Many good points made concerning keeping holy the Sabbath day. You farmers out there, self-included, have no excuse to ignore this day’s requirements related to rest and worship.

4. glmcreations - August 20, 2015

I pretty much ignored “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath” for decades-simply did not think about it. And often I went to the office and made money on Sunday-and I think that is much worse than servile work. Sometimes even did Saturday evening Mass so I get more hours in at the office on Sunday. The some years back it hit me – like a moral 2X4 to the forehead. I was blown away in confession when I told the priest that this had been going on for years – there was silence and then he said “Thank you.” Which blew me away-then he told me that yes that was bad, but also that he had not heard that sin confessed in years. I have tried since then to do nothing related to my day job on a Sunday; to read the Bible and other spiritual reading; and to spend as much time as possible with wife and family. Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas

5. manny - August 21, 2015

I too ignored it for most of my life until recently. My kind of work is very easy to to from home, so I’ve gone cold turkey and won’t even look at work related emails until Monday morning. I was feeling unsure about eating out (because it makes others work on the Sabbath). I’ll have to do more reading on it.

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