Saint John Paul looks at Sunday in the Liturgical Year with sections 76 through 80.
76. With its weekly recurrence, the Lord’s Day is rooted in the most ancient tradition of the Church and is vitally important for the Christian. But there was another rhythm which soon established itself: the annual liturgical cycle. Human psychology in fact desires the celebration of anniversaries, associating the return of dates and seasons with the remembrance of past events. When these events are decisive in the life of a people, their celebration generally creates a festive atmosphere which breaks the monotony of daily routine.
A few observations here. For the modern First World, we have two major problems as I see it. First, that there is an attachment to production. We either focus our lives on our work, and derive our whole meaningfulness–or most of it–from what we do. This can be either imposed from within or without. Workaholics and sweatshop laborers. Sometimes we are both, though we might think we are well-paid for our sweat.
Second, various aspects of the modern culture have overtaken the celebrations of the liturgical cycle. Who would dispute the importance of civic holidays such as Thanksgiving, or athletic events like the Super bowl or the World Cup. Consider the weekly Sunday worship of the NFL, the rituals associated with pre-game (tailgating, punditry, gambling, and preparing to host friends) as well as post-game.
Always the professor and philosopher, Pope John Paul II gives us some history:
Now, by God’s design, the great saving events upon which the Church’s life is founded were closely linked to the annual Jewish feasts of Passover and Pentecost, and were prophetically foreshadowed in them. Since the second century, the annual celebration of Easter by Christians — having been added to the weekly Easter celebration — allowed a more ample meditation on the mystery of Christ crucified and risen. Preceded by a preparatory fast, celebrated in the course of a long vigil, extended into the fifty days leading to Pentecost, the feast of Easter — “solemnity of solemnities” — became the day par excellence for the initiation of catechumens. Through baptism they die to sin and rise to a new life because Jesus “was put to death for our sins and raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25; cf. 6:3-11). Intimately connected to the Paschal Mystery, the Solemnity of Pentecost takes on special importance, celebrating as it does the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered with Mary and inaugurating the mission to all peoples. (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 731-732)
A good reminder of the closeness of Pentecost to the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of the Lord. The Paschal Mystery isn’t an occasion for us to observe and adore. It is an impetus into discipleship and mission.