My wife was reading a book with one of my sons called The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls. It’s a kids’ book of Bible stories. I listened to them read the first book which deals with the creation of the universe in the book of Genesis. I enjoyed a passage talking about why Sundays are a day of rest and we should treat them as such. The character asked why God rested if He’s all-powerful. Certainly, God couldn’t have been tired since He doesn’t have a physical body that needs rest. But God declared rest a good thing. Just as He created the world and animals for us, God created a day of rest, not for Him, but for us.
We live in a world where we try to cram so much into our days. In fact, there’s a new term that I think best exemplifies this tendency — rage browsing. Rage browsing is where we stay up browsing the internet late into the evening because we want to prolong the time we are awake doing something leisurely. It’s about us wanting to carve out time for ourselves in a world where it seems like someone else controls our schedules throughout the day. We want to put everything else aside to just relax.
Our faith tells us that we need to also carve out Sunday as a time to relax. This isn’t just good advice or some pandemic trend, it’s the Fourth Commandment.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.“
This Commandment not only covers our Sunday Mass obligation but commands us to rest as God did after creating the universe. This should be the easiest Commandment to follow. God is telling us to just stop working and relax.
The Rosary and Rest
Meditate on the Third Joyful Mystery, the Nativity. In the Nativity story, angels appeared to shepherds and told them of Jesus’ birth. They dropped what they were doing to go and honor Jesus. We should be like the shepherds and pause our busy lives for one day to honor God. If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then let’s imitate God by resting as He did.
Exactly what it means to rest is subject to debate. An orthodox Jew doesn’t cook or operate any machinery on the Sabbath. I don’t think we need to take it that far. The general guidance is that you should make it a day of increased meditation and focus on God. I know for a lot of us, it’s difficult to cut the weekend in half when there is so much to do. You may have to rearrange and reprioritize work and tasks. Consider it a sacrifice that further honors God. Here are some ways to spend your Sunday that captures the spirit of taking a day to rest:
- Abstain from large amounts of housework, but go ahead and tidy up things if it makes you more relaxed.
- Throw some laundry in the washing machine if you must, but save the sorting and ironing for later.
- Spend some time as a family. Go for a hike or play a game together.
- Do some cooking or baking as a family and enjoy a brunch or dinner together.
- Put away your electronic devices for a certain period of time.
- Pray, read, or watch religious-themed media like Formed.
- Discuss the day’s scripture readings and the Mass homily.
- Just sit quietly, outside if the weather is nice. Silence is golden.
- Call or visit with friends and family members, especially your parents.
- Try to schedule classes and events on a day other than Sunday. Sometimes, this is unavoidable but try to keep Sunday as open as possible.