Never on Sunday!
Sometime today the Holy Father will release his latest Apostolic Letter, this one Dies Domini "Day of the Lord" which, of course, treats the issue of the Sabbath and the Third Commandment: "Remember thou keep holy the Lord's day. In these modern times Sunday has become nothing more than a catch-all day to complete the work not done the rest of the days. Resting is foreign to so many in this day and age when the customs, cultures and religious values have been homogenized into whatever will make us more comfortable and give us the advantage. Satan has to love the direction mankind has taken over the last half of this century as we near ever closer to the millennium. But we know Jesus doesn't! He makes that evident in His commands from Old Testament time through the New Covenant, in the decrees of His Vicars on earth throughout the years, and in private revelation. It is a Godincidence that today, in our regular rotation of Lessons/Meditations to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart as part of THE HIDDEN WAY, we come across number 93: THE THIRD COMMAND: KEEP HOLY THE LORD'S DAY. Coincidence? We think not. In today's lesson Our Lord asserts in no uncertain terms that "By advancing technologically, you have diminished theologically." He also places the crux of the problem on the decline of family. This is something Pope John Paul II is expected to really focus on in his Apostolic Letter which we will bring you in installments later this week in THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS.
When this editor was growing up, Sundays were reserved strictly for family and it all centered around Holy Mass on Sunday morning. Once a month there was corporate communion for the Knights of Columbus, Holy Name Society and Christian Mothers on alternating Sundays. Dad was a Knight and a member of the Holy Name Society, while mom was a member of Christian Mothers so three Sundays out of the month we would dress to the hilt and take in the ten o'clock High Mass and then a scrumptious breakfast in the parish hall afterwards. This would usually last until noon. After that we would either go for a ride through the Twin Cities, visit Grandma or other relatives, or plan a picnic or a church softball game. Late afternoons were reserved for a family meal together and then listening to the radio and then "Ed Sullivan" on that new black and white invention called television. All were in bed by 8 or 9 p.m. Contrast that with today and we know who or what the culprit is: TV! This editor is as guilty as the next and we all have been contaminated. No one is immune from the tabernacle of satan - the boob tube! At first it was innocent, the days of "Howdy Doody," "I Love Lucy," "Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows" and all those other wholesome programs that enraptured families as they gathered together around the this contraption with all the tubes in the console. We can pinpoint almost the exact time satan took over and from there - pandemonium reigned within most families. It was the late sixties. JFK's assassination along with the murders of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, as well as the unpopular involvement in Vietnam left America and the rest of the world vulnerable to the wiles of the evil one. Censors, who used to rule the roost, were ridiculed and eventually phased out, allowing networks to air whatever they liked, evident from the fare on the daytime soaps, "All in the Family," "Laugh-in" and, later, "Saturday Night Live." Add to this the relaxation within the Church, promoted by liberals and radical liturgists, of strict rules and observances and you can see how we let down our guard. Today there are few families who own just one television set, fewer yet who gather together to watch wholesome entertainment; mainly because there is no such animal today on any of the networks or cable programming save for Mother Angelica's EWTN. But try to convince your teenagers to watch that! No, it's not easy. The MTV generation has permeated homes like nothing before where even conversation has gone the way of the dinosaur. More often than not it's confrontation rather than conversation for to attempt to gather the family together is paramount to control and "brainwashing." Young people today, while clamoring for traditions, snub those very traditions by making demands.
Well, folks, God has been making demands for several millenniums...all originating with the Ten Commandments. Notice to all: they are not called "suggestions." Webster's Dictionary defines commandment as "power of command." And keeping holy the Lord's day is definitely a command, not a mere recommendation. Now the Holy Father, as Christ's Vicar, is using his powers to reaffirm this command and doing all in his power to swing the pendulum back to where it belongs with his Apostolic Letter. Ever since Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical Humanae Vitae many Catholics have adopted the cafeteria style mentality where they pick and choose what they want to obey. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. It's either all or nothing. Hopefully the Pope can resurrect the reverence for Sundays and bring back the family togetherness absent for so long in today's society. If truth be known the Church has played a role in this decertification of Sundays as the Lord's day by promoting the Saturday evening masses as the Sunday vigil. While it was intended to accommodate those who, through no fault of their own, had to work on Sundays for one reason or another, it has been abused where people begin the evening with Mass, then go out on the town and sleep in the next day with a hangover. Sadly, even more have neglected Mass on Saturday evening or Sunday altogether, either too lazy to get up, or too busy to take the time. We wonder, will the Father be too busy to greet them when they approach the pearly gates?
The whole reason for the third commandment is explained in Exodus 31: 14-15, "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." Are we willing to comply and rest as God demands? If we don't we could wind up not getting any rest for all eternity! We have six days to complete all we need to, and the seventh MUST be dedicated to God. He has provided us an excellent means whereby we can secure graces, effecting our sanctification. It is called the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receiving the Holy Eucharist. We must return to the days when the Mass was the focal point of Sundays. The more we do that, the more families will come together again. For we have seen that when Sundays are desecrated by pleasures of the flesh and amusements that leave family members out of the picture, then it results in a further loosening of morals and the dissolution of family ties, and ultimately the final disintegration of society. Satan is waiting to clean up the ashes. Are we going to give him that satisfaction? Following God's command and the Holy Father's new Apostolic Letter our answer is: Never on Sunday!