Laudato Si 237: Sunday

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. And so we come to the notion of rest, or more accurately, Sabbath:

237. On Sunday, our participation in the Eucharist has special importance. Sunday, like the Jewish Sabbath, is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world. Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, the “first day” of the new creation, whose first fruits are the Lord’s risen humanity, the pledge of the final transfiguration of all created reality. It also proclaims “(humankind’s) eternal rest in God”.[CCC 2175] In this way, Christian spirituality incorporates the value of relaxation and festivity.

And like industrial masters and slavers who insisted on constant service, people today are beset by the same oppression, the need to work rather than take rest.

We tend to demean contemplative rest as something unproductive and unnecessary, but this is to do away with the very thing which is most important about work: its meaning. We are called to include in our work a dimension of receptivity and gratuity, which is quite different from mere inactivity. Rather, it is another way of working, which forms part of our very essence.

Action, not activism:

It protects human action from becoming empty activism; it also prevents that unfettered greed and sense of isolation which make us seek personal gain to the detriment of all else. The law of weekly rest forbade work on the seventh day, “so that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your maidservant, and the stranger, may be refreshed” (Ex 23:12). Rest opens our eyes to the larger picture and gives us renewed sensitivity to the rights of others. And so the day of rest, centered on the Eucharist, sheds it light on the whole week, and motivates us to greater concern for nature and the poor.

Like the sacraments, Sunday is not a narcissitic privilege of the well-to-do. It is something for everyone. It should lead us to reflect more deeply on what inspires us to give thanks and feel gratitude. From this “eucharist” may we be moved to consider others, and draw them into this great thanksgiving.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Laudato Si 237: Sunday

  1. Liam says:

    If anything, the well-to-do, other than people with sufficient inherited wealth, tend to be the LEAST likely to observe a sabbath rest. This is important to realize because too many of them, as leaders in American business, appear to resent that their workers might prefer to do so.

    The solvent that broke down sabbath observance was twofold: (i) appealing to consumer appetite, and (ii) the organized corrosion of organized labor (taking many forms, some of which are at issue in the current presidential campaign, but not typically for that reason) that that fewer families could make do on a single income.

    I can still remember growing up when the only places open on Sundays outside Jewish urban neighborhoods were (i) bakeries, (ii) pharmacies, (iii) what in NY State were often called “stationery stores” (relying on an exception in state law), (iv) parks of divers sorts, et cet.

    While I cannot call myself a *very* observant Sabbatarian, I do strain to do as much of my weekly shopping and chores on Saturdays and reduce the need for such on Sundays

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