Sunday: a day dedicated to our favorite sport, shopping, or watching movies, or…?
Or to the Lord?
“One of the saddest things I see is a sign on a business that says, ‘Open 7 days a week.'” So states Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, President of Christendom College in his three minute video, “Reclaiming the Lord’s Day.“
Emphasizing the vastness and pervasive materialism which has invaded much of the western world, O’Donnell quotes Pope John Paul. “We will never win the culture war until Christians reclaim Sunday.”
An unequivocal statement like that begs for some unpacking, doesn’t it? At least it did for me because I’d never heard of the apostolic letter, Dies Domini, that O’Donnell refers to until listening to this video.
The language of the apostolic letter is quintessentially Pope John Paul ll. By that I mean that Genesis is the starting point for this pope and now saint.
The commandment of the Decalogue by which God decrees the Sabbath observance is formulated in the Book of Exodus in a distinctive way: “Remember the Sabbath day in order to keep it holy” (20:8). And the inspired text goes on to give the reason for this, recalling as it does the work of God: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (v. 11). Before decreeing that something be done, the commandment urges that something be remembered….Dies Domini
Covid and all its associated mandates served as a wake up call to some of us in this land of the free we call America. Abruptly, shockingly, across the world, during the last week of March, 2020, churches closed.
We know the commandments, keep them in mind, of course.
And yet the insidiousness of the culture can so easily break through. To the point where Sunday becomes like every other day. In the not very distant past, I’ve had to reassert the sacredness of Sunday by refusing to work-in my case, write- and buy on Sundays.
Yeah, it does. If our reverence for Sundays were not significant, why would the man admired so greatly by much of the world make that bold assertion: We will never win the culture war until Christians reclaim Sunday?
And decide to write an entire apostolic letter explaining why?
Sunday, explains Pope John Paul is the day of Christ- of light. It’s also the day of the gift of the Spirit and the day of faith. In his uniquely eloquent prose the saint expounds on these points in his apostolic letter. The entire letter warrants more than a read, filled as it is with this kind of delicious prose sufficiently evocative to attend to the way we dress when we go to church. And pay far more attention to the meaning of keeping the seventh day holy:
Here too we find an anthropomorphism charged with a wealth of meaning.
…By its nature, the creative act which founds the world is unceasing and God is always at work…The divine rest of the seventh day does not allude to an inactive God, but emphasizes the fullness of what has been accomplished. It speaks, as it were, of God’s lingering before the “very good” work (Gn 1:31) which his hand has wrought, in order to cast upon it a gaze full of joyous delight.
This is a “contemplative” gaze which does not look to new accomplishments but enjoys the beauty of what has already been achieved. It is a gaze which God casts upon all things, but in a special way upon man, the crown of creation. It is a gaze which already discloses something of the nuptial shape of the relationship which God wants to establish with the creature made in his own image, by calling that creature to enter a pact of love. This is what God will gradually accomplish, in offering salvation to all humanity through the saving covenant made with Israel and fulfilled in Christ. It will be the Word Incarnate, through the eschatological gift of the Holy Spirit and the configuration of the Church as his Body and Bride, who will extend to all humanity the offer of mercy and the call of the Father’s love.Deis Domini