The Sunday Rest

What kind of work can I perform on a Sunday without violating the Sunday rest?

 

     The Church commands all Catholics to keep Sunday holy—not merely to attend Mass. Thus, the first precept of the Church reads: to keep the Sundays and Holy Days of obligation holy, by hearing Mass and resting from servile work. In another place She says to abstain from “those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God… or the proper relaxation of mind and body” (Code of Canon Law no. 1247). By servile work we mean, in general, that sort of work which requires more of the body than the mind. Traditionally, the motive (e.g., to make money or recreation) is not the main factor in determining whether a particular work is servile or not. Thus, in order to maintain objectivity, not only the nature of the work must be taken into account but also the way it is done and how it is commonly regarded in the tradition of the Church.

     The following are generally considered to be servile works: plowing, sowing, harvesting, etc.; sewing, lawn mowing, cobbling, tailoring, printing, masonry work, etc.; all work in mines and factories, etc. In most places custom justifies knitting, crocheting, etc.

     On the other hand, it is permitted to go walking, riding, driving, rowing, taking journeys or pilgrimages, even though these may be fatiguing. Literary and artistic works such as studying, teaching, drawing or painting, playing musical instruments, writing, delicate sculpturing, embroidering, taking photographs are all lawful on Sundays and Holy Days, even if done for remuneration.

     Two to three hours of servile work would be considered grave matter for sin. The following causes, however, would excuse from the observance of the law forbidding servile work. In general, any work is allowed that left undone would cause grave loss to oneself or another (i.e., “the ox is in the ditch”); an employer requires one to work on Sunday; works of charity to those in need; or those of necessity, public or private, such as all indispensable housework (dishes, cooking, etc.); any work in case of fire, flood, or other disasters. Let us strive to keep the Lord’s DAY holy rather than an hour on Sunday.

 

Can I go shopping on a Sunday?

 

     No, we should not shop on Sundays. In general, all commercial activity should stop on Sundays if for no other reason than to give all employees a chance to worship God and rest on the Lord’s Day as He commands. Thus, commercial stores should be closed and they actually were for many years. Only in the last several decades have they been allowed to remain open for business on Sundays. An exception to the rule is often made to businesses that supply necessary items like food and gasoline. Thus, such businesses as convenience stores, restaurants, and gas stations are allowed to be open on Sundays. Let us strive not to defer to a festival what should have been taken care of during the week, thereby distracting our attention from things of God.

 

 

 

 

The Land Without a Sunday

By Maria Von Trapp & Family

 

OUR NEIGHBORS in Austria were a young couple, Baron and Baroness K.  They were getting increasingly curious about Russia and what life there was really like. One day they decided to take a six week trip all over Russia in their car. This was in the time when it was still possible to get a visa. Of course, at the border they were received by a special guide who watched their every step and did not leave them for a moment until he deposited them safely again at the border, but they still managed to get a good first-hand impression.  Upon their return they wrote a book about their experiences, and when it was finished, they invited their neighbors and friends to their home in order to read some of their work to them. I shall always recall how slowly and solemnly Baron K. read us the title: “The Land Without a Sunday.”  Of all the things they had seen and observed, one experience had most deeply impressed them: that Russia had done away with Sunday. This had shocked them even more than what they saw of Siberian concentration camps or of the misery and hardship in cities and country. The absence of Sunday seemed to be the root of all the evil.

“Instead of a Sunday,’ Baron K. told us, “the Russians have a day off. This happens at certain intervals which vary in different parts of the country. First they had a five‑day week, with the sixth day off, then they had a nine-day work period, with the tenth day off; then again it was an eight day week. What a difference between a day off and a Sunday! The people work in shifts. While one group enjoys its day off, the others continue to work in the factories or on the farms or in the stores, which are always open. As a result the over‑all impression throughout the country was that of incessant work, work, work. The atmosphere was one of constant rush and drive; finally, we confessed to each other that what we were missing most was not a well-cooked meal, or a hot bath, but a quiet, peaceful Sunday with church bells ringing and people resting after prayer.” 

 

Source: excerpts of “The Land Without a Sunday”, 1955, Emanuel Books.

"And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made: and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. And he blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made" —Gen 2:2-3.

 

"Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day. Six days shalt thou labour, and shalt do all thy works. But on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work on it, thou nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy beast, nor the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them, and rested on the seventh day: therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it" —Exodus 20:8-11.

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