Here’s a new 7 week series for Friday Potpourri: The precepts of the Church.
Fr. Kovacina had an excellent series at Faith Lodge concerning the rights of the faithful under canon law. And as Catholics are (hopefully) painfully aware, all rights come with responsibilities. The precepts of the Church outline those responsibilities as laid out in the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore.
THE FIRST: Keep Holy the Day of the Lord’s Resurrection
Thought by many to be a quaint custom that has perhaps passed in the modern era is, in fact, listed first among the precepts of the Church. It is, after all, a commandment and cannot (despite people doing so with Biblical strictures all of the time) be ignored.
There are, however, two extremes that must be avoided. The first, most obviously, is to ignore this commandment all together making Sunday just or almost like any other day. The other is to make TOO much of it so that what was to bring man relief becomes a heavy burden. This is what caused Christ to teach, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
The day is to be, as far as possible, a day of sanctification, rest, and recreation. First and foremost this means get to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. There is nothing more important we do as the Body of Christ than to come together and pray in this way. This is the family coming together. If you don’t make it, it is like a husband not bothering to call his wife and family to let them know he won’t be there for dinner. Even though the dinner is there primarily for you, there are certain obligations.
The second is to do one’s best to avoid any activity that would hinder the renewal of soul AND body. There are all kinds of things here and ways of understanding this. Some people would say that no work at all should be done and one should wile away the day mindlessly. I would argue that it would give greater glory to God to have a family wash the car together on a hot, sticky, summer day than have everyone vedge in front of the television watching some awful reality show. What is to be avoided is needless paid work and non-life giving chores (enjoy working in the garden? Then it isn’t really a chore is it unless it keeps you from worshipping God.) Unnecessary shopping is to be avoided. (Coming home from vacation and are almost out of gas and may not make it home? Go buy some!)
Some people must work on Sunday: Priests for one. Sometimes it is my busiest day of the week. Police, Fire fighters, ambulance drivers, phone operators, snow plowers, medical personnel, even those whose jobs are not vital but their business force them to work are not breaking this commandment. BUT, they should do their best to observe the day as much as possible, and on their day off, observe a day of a kin to a Sabbath as they can. If work makes it impossible for them to attend Sunday Mass, they may speak with their proper pastor and seek permission to make up for it on a weekday Mass if possible due to hardship.
I think a lot of people who are conscious and try their best to follow this first responsibility as difficult as it can be for some.