The apparition of Our Lady in 1846 in LaSalette, France is often overlooked, although her message was quite urgent. There she conversed with Melanie Calvat and Maximim Geraud, two young shepherd children, and in the course of her visit, she wept. The cause of her tears was the “false light [that]illumines the world,” the lack of faith, the scandals in the Church and the common practice of taking her Son’s name in vain—often as an oath or out of anger. Furthermore, she noted that governments would soon join to “abolish and make every religious principle disappear, to make way for materialism, atheism, spiritism and vices of all kinds.”
More specifically, though, was her enormous grief over the loss of respect for the Sabbath. “Six days I have given you to labor, the seventh I had kept for myself; and they will not give it to me. It is this which makes the arm of my Son so heavy.”
It is that grief of Our Lady that should occupy us now, and the arrival of a new year is a perfect time to consider ways that we can begin to turn the tide of irreverence that engulfs us. To that end, I cannot recommend highly enough a small book, Souls at Rest by Charlotte Ostermann, which is a perfect introduction to restoring the Sabbath observance—an excellent book appropriate for those living alone, in families or in a community.
Mrs. Ostermann begins with a delightful foray into what constitutes the human person. This premise is essential, for in addition to giving praise and honor to our loving God, the Sabbath was meant to refresh us, indeed the day was more for our benefit than his, since both reverence and rest are in our very best interest.
The author weaves together powerful arguments for setting this day aside, and reminds us of the myriad ways that the prevailing culture has nudged us away from the very faith that keeps us whole. More specifically, though, she assures us that a rich Sabbath observance is not a “one size fits all” formula. Indeed, this is what makes the book work—for it respects the reader, the concrete realities of the journey, and the process by which one is gradually purified according to the demands of authentic love.
While everyone is called to observe the Sabbath in a fitting way, mothers often have a particular influence over calendars and the culture of the home. Although at times family life seems to have a pace of its own making, in reality we have the ability to slow things down and redirect the teeming energy in channels that will provide greater benefits to each member. This may take prayer, ingenuity and compromise, but the reader must at least study the options.
In the coming year—after the natural bustle of the holidays settles down—we should consider ways to deepen our own faith and to strengthen the family bond. Focusing on what we should be doing with our Sundays is an excellent starting point. Our culture will not let up its pressure on its own, and therefore, we must take responsibility to restore the essential leaven that can guide the larger community back to God.
Honoring the Sabbath more perfectly in the new year would be a lovely resolution that will transform more souls than you can imagine. Not only will this effort bring sanity to our harried and distracted families, but in doing so we can dry the tears of Our Lady—who only wants what is best for her sons and daughters.
Copyright 2010 Genevieve S. Kineke