"God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us." (St. John Paul the Great)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Rediscovering Sunday

"This is the day which the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).

"I love Sundays!" -- I must have said that to my husband at least three times yesterday at the beach.  Truthfully, I don't think I could survive without them -- I think I'd be in an institution, or worse.  God, in His infinite wisdom, has shown me time and again the necessity of a day of worship and rest. 

It was in college that I was first made aware of our call to give the whole of the Lord's Day to the Lord.  I had been raised Catholic and knew that attending Mass was an obligation of my faith, but as I began to claim that faith as my own and take it more seriously, I realized that "keeping the Lord's Day holy" meant more than merely attending Mass.  And so, I began to refrain from work on Sundays, which at that time meant study.  I am the type of person who is always wishing for more hours in the day to accomplish my never-ending list of things that MUST be done.  So to know that whatever was not done by dinner Saturday evening would have to wait until Monday morning was sometimes difficult, but I was rewarded with renewed energy for my studies, and with a greater peace and sense of balance that I think I would have had otherwise.

My husband had done the same thing in college, and so it was natural for us to continue refraining from work on Sundays during our marriage.  Again, sometimes this is difficult for me, what with piles of laundry or paperwork or attacking dust bunnies.  I would probably never rest if not either forced to by a breakdown or (thankfully) reminded and encouraged by the Church (and my husband).  Sometimes it means we HAVE to leave the house for the day so that I'm not constantly reminded of what needs to be done, but again, we have been rewarded time and again for giving the Lord's Day to the Lord, and to each other and our children and extended family.    

As a family, we try and start our Lord's Day celebration on Saturday evening with a special meal together.  We start with a time of prayer and song.  Sometimes we share bread and wine.  My husband reads the Gospel for the week and we discuss it, which the kids find helpful at Mass the next morning.  Though we attend Mass daily as often as we are able, Sunday Mass is seen as a "little Easter" and we dress in our finest.  After Mass, the day is spent together as a family, sometimes with extended family or friends, relaxing or enjoying one another's company in a way that the busyness of the week does not allow.

John Paul II, of happy memory, wrote an Apostolic Letter, entitled Dies Domini, which is a great reflection on the Lord's Day (and the word "joy" is found in it 67 times!)  Our Holy Father writes, "If we wish to rediscover the full meaning of Sunday, we must rediscover this aspect [joy] of the life of faith.  Certainly, Christian joy must mark the whole of life, and not just one day of the week.  But in virtue of its significance as the day of the Risen Lord, celebrating God's work of creation and 'new creation,' Sunday is the day of joy in a very special way, indeed the day most suitable for learning how to rejoice and to rediscover the true nature and deep roots of joy."  In the letter, John Paul II, "strongly urge[s] everyone to rediscover Sunday: Do not be afraid to give your time to Christ!  Yes, let us open our time to Christ, that he may cast light upon it and give it direction.  He is the One who knows the secret of time and the secret of eternity, and he gives us 'his day' as an ever new gift of his love.  The rediscovery of this day is a grace which we must implore, not only so that we may live the demands of faith to the full, but also so that we may respond concretely to the deepest human yearnings.  Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human."

May the Lord help us to rediscover the joy that is Sunday!

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