Keep Holy the Sabbath

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I am a podcast junkie and love to listen to Catholic radio shows whenever I have the chance.  One of my favorite podcasts is “Christ is the Answer” with Fr. John Riccardo.  Fr. Riccardo is a priest from the Diocese of Detroit, Michigan.  His radio show mainly focuses on Catholic Teaching.

On the April 9th broadcast of “Christ is the Answer,” Fr. John Riccardo discussed the 3rd Commandment.  (As I write this, he’s going through each of the 10 Commandments to help us listeners better live them out.)  If you would like to find the April 9th episode or any other archived shows, click here.

In case you’ve forgotten the 10 Commandments since memorizing them in grade school, the 3rd Commandment is, “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy,” (Exodus 20:8).  Before listening to Fr. Riccardo’s sermon on the sabbath, I hadn’t given long, serious thought to everything that the 3rd Commandment entails.  Thank you, God, for giving us good and holy priests like Fr. Riccardo who can lay it all out there for us!

As a culture, Fr. Riccardo asserts that we are “inordinately preoccupied with efficiency.”  We’re all about doing, doing, doing rather than being.  Having a sabbath, then, seems more like a mandatory timeout, a waste, a drain, or a burden rather than a delight.  We wake up exhausted from doing, doing, doing, and we go to bed exhausted with the thought of doing it all over again the next day.  A day of rest seems almost impossible or indulgent with our endless to-do lists.  If we do take the time to rest as we should, we probably sour the moment by anticipating a pile of work waiting for us when the respite ends.

Fr. Riccardo’s talk convicted me that I have a special role as the spiritual heart of our family to help us keep the sabbath holy.  To do that is going to require much, much more than just making sure we’re at Mass on Sundays.  Alongside my husband, we will work to:

  • Teach every family member (myself included!) to make time for a “tiny sabbath” each day

  • Make sure no family members are overscheduled.  It’s tough to convince an overwhelmed, overscheduled family member to get off the wheel and relax.

  • Help the kids learn to complete schoolwork right after school on Fridays.  No waiting until Sunday night!

  • Eliminate extracurricular activities that require attendance on Sundays.  (Imagine if everyone were following New Orleans’ example to keep Sundays clear of school events!)

  • Routinize our Sundays to help us stick with concrete ways to keep it holy.  (For us, that means the same Mass time, family naptime, scheduling fun outings with the whole fam, dinners with our extended family)

  • Decline invitations.  Remember that we are doing something on Sunday.

  • Find a way to regularly serve others as a family.  Part of keeping the sabbath holy is serving “the least of these.”

  • Take time to develop and enjoy hobbies.  Something that seems tedious to one person can bring rest and relaxation to someone else.  Help each family member to identify talents and interests and encourage them to develop those talents. (For us, that includes: piano, gardening, photography, cycling, blogging, cooking, baking.)

  • Start a special Sunday family tradition.  Perhaps you’ll get out your fancy dishes, light some candles, eat around the dining room table, and record in a journal each family member’s biggest blessings from the week.  Wouldn’t that be a treasure to read as time goes on?

How do you and your family keep the sabbath holy?  What are your biggest challenges?  What concrete changes can you make before Easter Sunday?

Copyright 2014 Catherine Boucher

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