The Third Commandment
Thou shalt keep holy the Lord's Day
Today we focus on the Third Commandment, this is the last of the three Commandments for how we are to treat God. The other seven are intended for how we are to treat our fellow man. The Third Commandment is the tether to our staying in open communication with God through divine worship that can only be accomplished through assisting at the Immemorial Apostolic Mass of All Time, the Traditional Latin Mass in which the alter Christus - a true priest offers to the Father on our behalf the Son in an unbloody manner. Only a truly ordained priest, ordained in the divinely ordained rite not the new rite of Vatican II, can confect the bread and wine into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we fulfill the Third Commandment and by observing the safeguards that go with it, keep before us the importance of the Sabbath.
Editor's Note: This series is an effort to return to basics since too often we all make the holy Faith complicated, whereas in reality the truths and traditions of the Catholic Faith are quite simple. God doesn't complicate things, man does. Realizing the fact that, for many generations indoctrinated by conciliar ambiguities, it all seems so confusing, we are introducing this series which is an adaptation of an earlier series titled "Appreciating the Precious Gift of the Faith" in utilizing a combination of the excellent compendium of the late Bishop Morrow's pre-Vatican II Manual of Religion My Catholic Faith and Dom Prosper Gueranger's incomparable The Liturgical Year as well as the out-of-print masterpieces The Catholic Church Alone The One True Church(1902) and the Cabinet of Catholic Information (1903). Through prayer and discussions, we've decided to employ this revised series to simplify the tenets of the Faith for those who continue to wallow in what they think is the 'Catholic Church' out of obedience to a man and his hierarchy who long ago betrayed Christ and His flocks. This then, is an affirmation of the basic truths the Spotless Bride of Christ has always taught and cannot change or evolve as "living documents" for truth is truth. As we say every day in the Act of Faith, "We believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived." If you have been deceived, and the vast majority have been, then realize what you've been indoctrinated with over the past 50 years cannot be from God but from His adversary. Our advice: flee the conciliar confines as well as other man-made religions which do not teach these truths without compromise. Seek out a traditional chapel nearest to you. There is a list of churches you can absolutely trust at Traditional Latin Masses
By the third commandment we are commanded to worship God in a special manner on Sunday, the Lord's day. "Keep you My Sabbath: for it is holy unto you: he that shall profane it, shall be put to death: he that shall do any work in it, his soul shall perish out of the midst of his people. Six days shall you do work: in the seventh day is the sabbath, the rest holy to the Lord" (Exodus 31: 14-15).
God commanded the observance of a definite day, in order that man may devote one day a week to the special worship of his Creator. Natural law obliges man to adore and thank God for His continuous blessings.
If God gives us six days to work for ourselves, we ought to be glad to devote one day to Him, exclusively. The day enables us to join in public worship and receive religious instruction. The rest benefits both body and soul. If we had to work always, seven days a week, year in and year out, our health would break under the strain. Consider during these past several decades how this has happened with 7 days a week, 24 hour stores. Man has forgotten the true purpose of Sunday. It is not to worship at the altar of the NFL or be glued to the TV set watching whatever sport is in season.
In the Old Law, the celebration of a definite day, the sabbath, had been ordered only specially for the Jews, just as circumcision and bloody sacrifices had been. The Old Law was abrogated upon the institution of the New (cf. Acts 10:15; Colossians 2:16; and Galatians 4:10-11). In the Old Law the Jews kept holy the seventh day of the week, Saturday. It was their day of rest. The vital principle of the Third Commandment was not the specific day, but that one day out of seven should be devoted to the worship of God the Creator.
In the New Law, Catholics keep holy the first day of the week, Sunday. It is called "The Lord's Day." Saint Paul refers twice to its observance. (cf. Acts 20: 7; 1 Cor. 16:2). The Church commands us to keep Sunday as the Lord's day, because on Sunday Christ rose from the dead, and on Sunday the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles.
In the New Law, Christ delegated His authority to the Church, His Living Voice. It remained then for the Church to indicate the ceremonial day to be kept holy. In the same way the early Church caused circumcision and bloody sacrifices to make way for Baptism and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Church commands us to worship God on Sunday by assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The obligation of Mass is binding on all persons who have attained the use of reason; that is, including children seven years old. Those who find it impossible, or very difficult, to hear Mass, are excused. The sick, the very aged and infirm, and those engaged in works of necessity at the hour of Mass, are excused from attending it. Those who live too far to walk and have no conveyance are also excused. Very bad weather may be sufficient cause.
Not to hear Sunday Mass, or to miss a notable part of Sunday Mass, is a mortal sin. To come a little late and not make up for it in another Mass, is a venial sin. The precept is to hear an entire Mass from beginning to end; that is, from the Priest's entrance into the sanctuary till his departure into the sacristy. One is considered to have missed Mass if one arrives too late to be present at the Offertory (when the Priest uncovers the chalice), or leaves before the Communion is finished. The principal parts - that is, the Offertory, the Consecration, and the Communion - must be heard in one and the same Mass. However, the above should never be used as an excuse because there is seldom a valid excuse to arrive late or to leave early except for emergencies.
Those who on every slight pretext excuse themselves from their obligation of hearing Sunday Mass will gradually slip into religious carelessness and indifference. We should be sturdy Christians, and not let anything but impossibility or serious illness interfere with our hearing Mass on Sunday. Not to have a new or clean dress is not sufficient reason for staying away from Sunday Mass. Neither is an excursion that leaves early a reason. One should go to Mass before going on the excursion.
Mass is not our only obligation on Sunday, for God commands us to sanctify the whole day, and not only a part of it. We should perform other good works. We may hear sermons or instruction, receive the sacraments, attend vespers or benediction, read the Bible or other spiritual books, say the Rosary, attend a sodality or confraternity meeting, visit the Blessed Sacrament, the poor, the sick, and perform other works of mercy. It is not an obligation to spend the entire Sunday in such works, but we should try to give as much time to them as we can, for the love of God. If we do things not required for the love of our friends on earth, how much more eager we should be to do them for our best Friend of all, God!
We should participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for by it, and by the true Mass alone, do we offer adoration to God, we obtain instruction in our Faith, and we secure our sanctification. If we offer Holy Mass with the implicit intention of participating in the services, we are not mere spectators watching those services. We become actors in a divine drama, as members of a great family completely united in mind and spirit, one in a bond of charity, using the ceremonies of the Church for our sanctification. We are assisting at Mass even if we don't know Latin.
At Holy Mass we partake supernaturally of the divine life itself, giving the plenitude of glory to God. For who can give Him greater glory than His Own Son, with Whom we are united in the Mystical Body, and Who offers Himself in sacrifice at Mass?
Holy Mass, as it is said in the course of the Liturgical Year, is a deep source of knowledge. It follows a definite program, unfolding a vivid drama, presenting to our minds and hearts the story of God's love for men. In the course of the liturgical year Holy Mass is a dramatic summary of the principal truths of our Faith, unfolded with the beauty of ritual and ceremonial. With its functions it unfolds, not one mystery alone, as private devotions do, but the entire drama of man's redemption. It is a catechism by which the Church inculcates dogmas and precepts, investing them with the grandeur of rite and chant.
Pope Leo XII said, "As He took to Himself a mortal body which He gave to suffering and death in order to pay the price of man's redemption, so also He has a Mystical Body in which and through which He renders men partakers of holiness and eternal salvation."
Unnecessary Servile Work
By the Third Commandment of God all unnecessary servile work on Sunday is forbidden. Servile work is that which requires labor of body rather than of mind.
Work performed by laborers, such as farming, mechanical and industrial labor, is forbidden, even if done for pleasure and without gain. Work in which the mind has the greater share or which is done for recreation is not servile and is not forbidden. This includes reading, writing, typing, drawing, painting, playing music, traveling, hunting, fishing, and the like. However, with the advance of the computer age there is a fine line that has blurred to where people become engrossed in their own 'thing', if you will, and ignore their neighbor, even their family, and worse, forget what the Sabbath really means.
Employers who force their employees to do unnecessary servile work on Sunday are responsible for the violation of the Third Commandment. The trial of lawsuits and public buying and selling, are also forbidden. Catholics should make provision on Saturday for their food and other necessities of Sunday, so that no store may be forced to keep open. Yet, in compromising with societal norms, many Catholics have forgotten this and trudge to the grocery store or shopping center with nary a care that it is wrong. It is not wrong if one can not get to the store on any other day, but that should be a rare exception.
The obligation to avoid servile work on Sunday is grave, and therefore its violation is a mortal sin if one works for a notable time and knowingly realizes it, but does it anyway. Servile work on Sunday is not considered a grievous sin unless it is continued beyond two hours, or becomes the cause of scandal or bad example. Patronizing stores that have no regard for the Sabbath and are open on Sundays only for the sake of greed is also a sin.
It often happens that those who continue to work on Sundays lose their health and thereby sink into poverty. In Holy Scripture we find the Jews losing their Holy City and being taken into captivity, because they violated the Sabbath.
Servile work is allowed on Sunday when the honor of God, our own need, or that of our neighbor requires it. Some of these examples are: Preparing a place for Holy Mass is a work for the honor of God, and may be done even on a Sunday. In a parish where the women are all occupied during the week, and can meet for their altar society meetings only on Sundays, it would be allowed for them to see or repair vestments for the church. The same for traditional parishes where daily Mass may not be available or families have to travel long distances to attend a true Mass.
Work of daily necessity such as cooking, cleaning, and sweeping, and buying and selling of necessary food may be performed even on a Sunday. Even servile work when necessary for the common good, or to prevent serious financial loss, is permitted on Sunday. This also means, if one has to shovel his driveway he may on Sunday if it can't be done on any day, the same with mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, etc. However, if these duties could be performed on another day, that is preferred and it is left to each's conscience regarding how to observe the Lord's Day. After all, on the seventh day, God rested. Shouldn't we?
Farmers are allowed to care for their cattle and domestic animals, and even to get in crops that otherwise might spoil. Our Lord does not desire man to suffer on account of Sunday for He says: "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (St. Mark 2:27).
Those in charge of persons who are necessarily on duty on Sunday such as workingmen engaged in the service of public utilities, such as transportation, fire departments, light, power, and heat plants, policemen, fireman, soldiers, etc., are obliged to give them an opportunity to hear Mass, if not every Sunday, at least as often as possible. Catholics who must work on holydays are obliged to hear Mass, unless excused by a reasonably grave cause.
Domestic help can easily be permitted to go to Mass, if their duties are properly arranged. Amusements are not forbidden on Sunday: only those that interfere with the Sunday obligations are forbidden.
Not so much emphasis should be given in competitive games as to which side wins or loses. A good loser is better than a poor winner who is proud of himself. That is an important aspect that is totally lost in this win-at-all-costs atmosphere of professional sports where money has become the idol, pride is running amok out of control with all the taunting and strutting. Sportsmanship and priorities have seemed to be a thing of the past. How many times have you heard a rabid fan yell, "kill 'em!" Yes, it is just an euphemism, but consider the scandal and the fact that one is not fully in control of one's emotions which can easily lead to sin.
The Third Commandment does not prohibit professional sports, but the Church cautions to not let it interfere with our duty to attend Holy Mass and not to make it the end-all and be-all where it would interfere with our priorities, especially in respect to the needs of our families. For remember, Sunday is a day of rest. On Sunday, therefore, we are permitted to relax from our daily work, in wholesome recreation. "God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it he had rested from all his work" (Genesis 2:3). If God, Who needed no "rest", chose to stop His work of creation, we should imitate His divine example and rest after six days of labor. The experience of all peoples has borne out the wisdom of this practice of resting one day out of the week.
As an example we may cite the case of the French Revolution. The French atheists in control wished to change the old order completely, and went so far as to change the number of days in the week to ten. They could not, however, retain the new week, for even the work animals, unable to endure work without rest, died of exhaustion.
To attend entertainments such as dances up to a late hour on Saturday night, even when in themselves they are not wrong, is a poor way of preparing for the Lord's day. Those who stay up late Saturday night if they do not omit Mass altogether, they will not hear it devoutly.
An outstanding example of such entertainments are parties, dances, and other activities that go well into the early morning that have not only become the norm today, but a serious occasion of sin because of the length of time and conditions of unguardedness and temptation Catholics can put themselves in. People go to these dances, parties, movies, etc. in different varieties of dress and undress, with paint, slogans, piercings and tattoos, and every other kind of worldly decorations on their persons. Then those that feel a twinge of conscience run out for an intermission of Mass, to return perhaps to the dance, or to go home to sleep all day! Let any reasonable man say whether this kind of amusement is the consonance with the commandment to sanctify the Lord's day.
Some people seem to take advantage of Sunday to indulge more freely in useless or sinful pastimes. It is a scandal to see people engaged in excessive eating, drinking, dancing, and vanity on Sunday, of all days. It is an abuse of a sacred institution: the Lord's Day. "The kingdom of God does not consist in food and drink" (Romans 14:17).
Neglecting common worship, members of the family become indifferent to each other. Children turn stubborn and disobedient. The father hardly stays home and knows strangers better than his own children. Since the children lose respect for their parents, it is an easy step to loss of respect for all authority, including the secular power. This has never been more true than today when everyone goes their own way and the family unit is considered a dinosaur in today's politically corrupt world of insanity.
Thus by forgetting God's day, men will fall into all kinds of vices and die outside God's grace. This has sadly happened throughout the world, but especially in America where God has, for the most part, been forgotten and where our own government is doing all it can to erase God from all facets of society. His will shelved because man thinks he knows better. In our opulence and spoil we forget these gifts are not ours but God's. We fail to learn from history and, though many are oblivious of the fact, we are doomed to repeat it if we do not treasure and honor the Lord's Day and all it means. Oh, and this means also staying as far away from a Novus Ordo Masonic 'eucharistic' celebration as possible!
Catholicism Made Simple