This month long period of Ordinary Time between the Christmas season and the start of Lent offers a good opportunity to reflect on the meaning and importance of Sunday. The keeping holy of Sunday is both a continuation and a new fulfillment of the Jewish law to “keep holy the Sabbath.” The Sabbath is on Saturday, the seventh day of the week, the day that God rested after the work of creation was done. Keeping the Sabbath was “a sign of the irrevocable covenant” between God and Israel. “The Sabbath is for the Lord, holy and set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on behalf of Israel.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2171)
In the Christian tradition, Sunday has become our holy day, our day of worship and rest. “Jesus rose from the dead ‘on the first day of the week.’ Because it is the ‘first day,’ the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the ‘eighth day’ following the Sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day.” (CCC 2174)
Each week, Sunday is meant to be a time of celebration, a mini-Easter, an opportunity to worship and rejoice and rest! How lucky we are! Yet, sometimes, we do not view it that way – especially we moms who never actually get a day off. Sundays simply result in a different set of duties. Even going to Mass can be a struggle. There is the effort of getting everyone up and out of the house (sometimes with considerable protestations). Then, there is the challenge of keeping everyone quiet and well-behaved in Church. Anyone who has experienced Mass with a crying baby, screaming toddler, or antsy preschooler can relate. Mass can be the most stressful hour of the week! Yet, it is still important to go. The Eucharist feeds our soul, giving us strength for the week ahead.
It is also important for our children. I always felt that they got some grace out of simply being there, even in the days when them paying attention was simply not happening. They also learned from the smallest age that on Sundays we go to Mass. It is an important part of life and it isn’t optional. Pope Benedict XVI offered the following insight into attending Mass at World Youth Day in 2005, “Sometimes, our initial impression is that having to include time for Mass on a Sunday is rather inconvenient. But if you make the effort, you will realize this is what gives a proper focus to your free time.”
Sunday does invite us to dedicate more time to God and to our own rest as well. It is meant to be pleasant and to provide the opportunity to do things and see people that bring us joy. Moms may need to make a special effort to get that rest. It most likely isn’t going to be an all-day experience, but if we can grab an hour or two to engage in some activity that refreshes us, a recreation that truly re-creates us so that we can approach our familial responsibilities with a lighter heart, both we and our families will be better as a result. That activity may need to take place Saturday night (technically part of the Sunday celebration) after the children are in bed, or early Sunday morning. There is time, although at first it may be a struggle to find it. Soon, however, it will become a routine and something to look forward to each week! God wants us to rest and enjoy His day. We need to worship and we need to celebrate. Sundays exist for Moms, too! He knows we need them.
Copyright 2010 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur