Dies Domini 30: An Indispensable Day

John Paul II suggests protection. Such a defense of Sunday must involve an actively-lived and celebrated tradition. We’re not just defending tradition because of previous generations. They’re now dead–the ones who observed blue laws, and declined to work for their masters and lords, and who fanned themselves under shade trees. The servants, of course, not so much.

But the Holy Father is right. Sunday is indeed “an indispensable day!”

30. It is clear then why, even in our own difficult times, the identity of this day must be protected and above all must be lived in all its depth. An Eastern writer of the beginning of the third century recounts that as early as then the faithful in every region were keeping Sunday holy on a regular basis.(Cf. Bardesanes, Dialogue on Destiny, 46: PS 2, 606-607) What began as a spontaneous practice later became a juridically sanctioned norm.

I think the inspiration behind Sunday was part spontaneity, but also part grace.

The Lord’s Day has structured the history of the Church through two thousand years: how could we think that it will not continue to shape her future?

There are modern pressures. Some of them have always been with us.

The pressures of today can make it harder to fulfil the Sunday obligation; and, with a mother’s sensitivity, the Church looks to the circumstances of each of her children. In particular, she feels herself called to a new catechetical and pastoral commitment, in order to ensure that, in the normal course of life, none of her children are deprived of the rich outpouring of grace which the celebration of the Lord’s Day brings.

Catechesis and pastoral outreach are needed. But keeping Sunday holy is not just about teaching ignorant Christians. It is also a matter of creativity: how to reach out to people burdened by work, by personal obligations, and such. And of course, those who see Sunday as a day of busy leisure, rather than a more leisurely relaxation mindful of Christ.

A reminder that the idea of a perpetual calendar is acceptable within limits:

It was in this spirit that the Second Vatican Council, making a pronouncement on the possibility of reforming the Church calendar to match different civil calendars, declared that the Church “is prepared to accept only those arrangements which preserve a week of seven days with a Sunday”.(Sacrosanctum Concilium, Appendix: Declaration on the Reform of the Calendar) Given its many meanings and aspects, and its link to the very foundations of the faith, the celebration of the Christian Sunday remains, on the threshold of the Third Millennium, an indispensable element of our Christian identity.

The Vatican site has Dies Domini in its entirety.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Dies Domini, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

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