Book Notes: "Reclaiming Sundays" by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

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It’s easy for busy families to let Sundays become just another day of the week. Even if we make sure to attend Mass (either the Saturday-evening vigil or Mass on Sunday), the way we spend the rest of the day often looks no different from the way we spend Saturday.

When my children were very young, I decided to make a serious effort not to shop or do housework or laundry that couldn’t wait on Sunday. I like to cook, so I’d often spend time on Sunday making an extra-nice meal or special dessert (or cookies for the week ahead). But laundry, or mopping the floor? Unless there was a big emergency, that waited until Monday. Otherwise, for me as a stay-at-home mom, Sunday would hardly be different from any other day. On Sundays, sometimes we’d make plans with family or friends after Mass, and that was an enjoyable way to spend the day.

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle offers tools to take back Sunday as a day set apart from the rest of the week. In her new book, Reclaiming Sundays: Pray, play, serve, rest, refresh, and celebrate (Paraclete Press), she clearly outlines a way to intentionally set Sunday apart from the rest of the week.

Reclaiming Sundays

The book contains 52 chapters, enough to get you through a full year of special Sundays. But special Sundays don’t have to break the bank. Most of the ideas in these chapters won’t cost a thing, and if special supplies (for crafts or gardening, for example) are required, they’re often items you’ll already have around the house. For example, in the Winter Sundays category, you’ll find “Mug-a-Soup Sunday.” The family activity for this day involves making a pot of homemade soup — perhaps from a favorite family recipe, or a traditional recipe from your family’s heritage. Plan to share some soup with a relative, neighbor, or friend, too.

Each Sunday’s entry contains:

  • A quote for inspiration (from Scripture, a saint, or even canon law)
  • Family morning prayer
  • Reflection
  • Family activity
  • Note to parents and grandparents
  • Mini teaching, with ideas for ways parents and grandparents can discuss this teaching with children
  • Ponder: things to discuss together
  • Family evening prayer

There are chapters for the various seasons of the Church year as well as the calendar year, plus chapters based on saints, family events, works of mercy, and more. The book is designed so you can skip around, choosing the chapter that works best for your family each week.

God has set aside a full day each week for us to worship, rest, be refreshed, serve, and grow in holiness. At times, we have totally missed God’s invitation because we either forgot, we weren’t listening, or we were just too busy. We also need the reminders to slow down since life is packed with events. (9)

The final chapter, “Building your domestic church,” is inspiring reading about other ways you can build up your family’s life of faith.

A useful appendix packed with ideas for meaningful family activities completes the book, for the times when the suggested activity doesn’t work for your family or you want to keep the momentum going.

Reclaiming Sundays is a must-read for families who want to intentionally set Sunday apart.

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Copyright 2020 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
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About Author

Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom of 3 young adults, and a Secular Franciscan. She is editor at CatholicMom.com. Barb enjoys writing, cooking, and reading, and is a music minister at her parish and an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Find her blog at FranciscanMom and her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information for diabetics at Cook and Count.

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