Pope John Paul II brings the spirit of an artist to many of his documents, but here we’re talking about doctrine underlying Sunday. He wasn’t wrong about Church doctrine dealing with Sunday. My question is how effective the doctrinal approach is with those beyond committed (or scared) believers.
6. Given this array of new situations and the questions which they prompt, it seems more necessary than ever to recover the deep doctrinal foundations underlying the Church’s precept, so that the abiding value of Sunday in the Christian life will be clear to all the faithful. In doing this, we follow in the footsteps of the age-old tradition of the Church, powerfully restated by the Second Vatican Council in its teaching that on Sunday “Christian believers should come together, in order to commemorate the suffering, Resurrection and glory of the Lord Jesus, by hearing God’s Word and sharing the Eucharist, and to give thanks to God who has given them new birth to a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (cf. 1 Pt 1:3)”.(Sacrosanctum Concilium 106)
Of course believers should gather on Sunday. Are the fruits of such gatherings obvious to skeptics? Are they attractive to seekers? Do faith communities make sincere efforts to be fruitful and attractive, not out of a sense of pandering to people, but from a sense of putting their very best into Sunday? Because if clergy and liturgical ministers aren’t putting their very best into the Lord’s Day, we can chit-chat about doctrine all we want. But our hypocrisy might well be showing.
The Sunday obligation is aimed at Catholics who want to follow Jesus and his Church but it becomes a sacrifice to attend for a variety of reasons. The fruits of the celebrations while real and powerful often are not readily visible and take time to mature. But the sins of the laity & clergy are easier to find and will continue to be in most parishes for ages upon ages. Add to that distance of travel, work schedules, children, and preference in liturgy/music, or just having a bad day, the temptation to stay home is very strong. I agree that it is important for communities to make the fruits more apparent but there will always be an element of faith and duty needed to help people to “stick through the bad”.