Keep Holy the Sabbath Day

Posted by James Hahn on

Monday September 9th - St. Peter Claver
Luke 6:6-11

My parents and grandparents often relay stories of the "old days." One of those stories is about the Sabbath or what we would call Sunday. In their day, Sunday was truly a time of rest and recreation. Saturday was a day of work but also a day of preparing for Sunday. If food was needed for Sunday dinner it was purchased on Saturday. If gas was needed for a Sunday drive or a trip to the park, it was purchased on Saturday. In those days Sunday was a day of peace. It was a day to recoup. It was a day to pray and thank God for all His wondrous gifts. Sunday was in itself a wondrous gift.

Things have changed since then. Things have changed since I was a boy only a couple of decades ago. Back then a ball game or practice on Sunday was unheard of. There were no dance recitals or cheering competitions scheduled. We may have went to the store once or twice or even to the mall but even then we felt that we were relaxing.

Today it is a different story. Today, Sunday is not looked upon as the Lord's Day, a day of peace and rest but a day to get all of those things done that we weren't able to take care of during the week. It is a bonus day to work, play sports, go shopping, etc. I think we have moved far away from the spirit of "Keep holy the Sabbath." To many that simply means don't kill anyone on Sunday. Keeping holy the Sabbath may mean going to Church for some but for most it doesn't go far beyond that.

Today's reading shows us the exact opposite of what we are experiencing today. Whereas today most disregard the Second Commandment the contemporaries of Jesus observed the Sabbath to the point that most were prevented from doing even charitable acts. They stuck so closely to the letter of the law that charity, the highest of all laws, was violated. Here Jesus tries to get this point across to them but it works in the opposite way.  They become enraged when Jesus heals on the Sabbath.

I can relate to Jesus in this instance. As a director of religious education I was constantly encouraging families to stop with all the nonsense that takes place on Sunday and give their time to God. I found myself urging them to stand up for their faith and demand that games, recitals, and practices be moved to the weekdays. Many looked at me as though I was merely a simpleton lost in a dream while others were "filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do.."

Sunday is an important day for our family. It is a day to hang out together. We go hiking or fishing. We put puzzles together and play games. The focus of the day is God and each other. We try to plan for Sunday and make sure we have the food or the gas we need. Yes, it takes some effort and often a great deal of will power and readiness to sacrifice, but it is worth it. God makes sure of that!

"Stretch out your hand. This form of medicine is common and general. Offer it often, in benefit of your neighbor; defend from injury anyone who seems to be suffering as a result of calumny; stretch out your hand also to the poor man who asks for your help; stretch it out also to the Lord, asking him to forgive your sins; that is how you should stretch your hand out, and that is the way to be cured." - Saint Ambrose
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How to get better at prayer.
  1. Set a prayer appointment - Set a time on your calendar each day to meet and speak with God.
  2. Slowly increase your prayer time. - Don't jump in with an hour right from the get-go.  Build up your "tolerance" so to speak.
  3. Commit - to praying and slowly increasing your prayer time for 30 days.  Mark off the days on your calendar.  If you miss a day, jump right back in, don't give up.
  4. Pray - praying is talking to God, it's spending time with your attention focused on Him.  I enjoy spending time with my children regardless of their level of development.  God is the same way.  Spend time praying as best you can.  Use formal prayers if you want or simply speak in conversation.  Don't forget to listen
  5. Journal - Our newly revised 4 Simple Steps to Better Scripture Meditations: Guide, Workbook, and Journal walks you through 4 easy steps that will help you go deeper in your prayer life.  It includes 31 days of workbook and journal pages too!
  6. Read other good books about how to pray better - Prayer PrimerDeep Conversion, Deep PrayerTime for GodThe Spiritual Life: A Comprehensive Guide to Catholics Seeking Salvation.

* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

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