2013 - Vol. 67
The Lord's Day Holy
3: The Significance of the Third Commandment for the New Evangelization
by Nico Angleys
three part series was originally written as a Master's Thesis for a degree
requirement at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Seminary in Detroit, Michigan,
USA. While it was written from a Roman Catholic perspective, the material
can be beneficial for Christians from other traditions as well. The author
welcomes input and questions. -ed.
The Oxford English dictionary defines evangelization
as the act of “proclaiming the Gospel” or “preaching the Gospel.”118
To evangelize is to announce the Good News of Jesus Christ. The process
of evangelization involves both a proclamation and a reception of this
Good News in the life of the hearer. In Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Paul
VI writes that evangelizing is at the heart of the Church’s identity, yet
it is a “complex process made up of varied elements: the renewal of humanity,
witness, explicit proclamation, inner adherence, entry into the community,
acceptance of signs, apostolic initiative.”119
The work of evangelization encompasses much of
the activity of the Church in the modern world. In Redemptoris Missio,
Blessed John Paul II writes of a “new evangelization” or a “re-evangelization”
of countries that once had Christian roots but are no longer living and
practicing their faith. Thus the task of evangelization is not simply to
the nations “out there” (to the East and to the South)120
but also to the peoples of the once Christian nations and the newer nations.
What then does the third commandment contribute to the understanding of
this New Evangelization? The answer lies in examining how this commandment
re-invigorates and strengthens a Christian culture in the modern age. As
Benedict writes, “the fight for Sunday is another of the Church’s major
concerns in the present day, when there is so much to upset the rhythm
of time that sustains community.”121
Sigve Tonstad proposes that the seventh day has a theological, historical,
and existential meaning for man and thus is a “meaning-making resource,
capable of meeting the challenges of the human quest for purpose and hope
in the present.”122
Bass writes that “there has rarely been a time when awareness of the human
need for Sabbath has been greater, or the church’s call to address that
need more urgent.” 123
In this section I will examine five ways in which
the third commandment could contribute to the new evangelization. First,
pertaining to time, this commandment offers insight for handling the fragmentation
of life, the challenge of new technologies, and the search for meaning
of the passing of time in the modern person’s life. Second, this commandment
helps people remember their roots and the importance of relational connectedness.
Third, keeping the Lord’s Day holy proposes a fresh understanding of the
meaning of work. Fourth, this precept presents opportunities for growth
in character, namely in generosity and in expressing joy. Fifth, and finally,
this command offers an opportunity for dialogue and proclamation of the
Good News to the other monotheistic peoples, the Jews and the Muslims.
1. Fragmentation of Life
The command to worship and to rest has something
very significant to say to the modern person who lives a fragmented life.
The harrying nature of multitasking and of multiple forms of communication
can lead the young especially to lose track of their purpose and direction
in life. The ever-present and relatively low-cost forms of available entertainment
further accentuate the fragmented experience of life for modern people.
Thus the multitude of voices and the frenetic pace of technological society
are significant factors in fragmenting normal life for the western person.
The commercializing trends of a culture where time is money 124
and consumption its currency also contribute to the fragmented experience
of life. Bass notes that “it is not the lack of time but rather its formlessness
that is the troubling scenario. One can see human lives becoming ever more
fully detached from nature, from community, and from a sense of belonging
to a story that extends beyond one’s own span of years.” 125
A day that is clearly and consciously set apart
can provide an antidote to these dehumanizing influences. In the act of
worship, believers are prompted to lift their gaze towards God and his
heavenly dwelling place. The rest achieved by ceasing their constant productivity
allows men and women to re-center their lives on their true end: relationship
with the living God. Time set aside for that relationship is tremendously
needed in this day and age.
2. New Technologies
The advent of the Internet and numerous new technologies
in the world of communication and productivity have increased the individualizing
trends in western culture. Blogging promotes the tendency to highly value
oneself and one’s opinions. Social networking increases a solitary form
of relating by confining the interaction with others to a screen and by
removing the need for simultaneous connection. Tweeting has a narcissistic
effect: people care about the things that I do so I need to inform them
of the minutia of my schedule. Internet search engines cater to advanced
personalized profiles to match the individual’s preferences. Cell phones,
and smart phones in particular, regularly detach a person’s attention from
the environment he or she is in. Email blurs the natural barriers of work
and personal life for many individuals in the workplace. The positive effects
and benefits of these technologies are numerous; however, one cannot ignore
the individualizing and atomizing effect these have on people.
The various practices involved in keeping the
Lord’s Day holy can also address the challenge the young face in handling
new technologies and media. The relevant wisdom of this commandment abides
in is its emphasis on worship and relationships with others, neither of
which are inherent in the new technologies. The day that calls for communal
activities centered on prayer, reflection, and relationships is an aid
to reverse the cultural trends of individualization. Keeping the Lord’s
Day holy requires a spiritual power that is far more sustaining to human
life than the battery, the screen, and the network. A day that is focused
on the relationships close at hand, in the flesh, will counter the isolating
work of six days spent tethered to the information superhighway.
3. Finding Meaning in the Passing of Time
Many an observer of modern life notes the increasing
pace of life in the West. The historian harkens to past societies when
time seemed to move “slower” than now. The scientist welcomes the increased
pace of discovery as progress. The philosopher remarks that new ideas are
revolutionizing. Sociologists Peter and Brigitte Berger worry about “the
homeless mind” of modern man and note that the superimposition of the wristwatch
and the calendar on more ancient modes of temporality contributes to the
destabilizing of enduring human time-consciousness. 127
Ancient modes of keeping time relied on the natural rhythms of agrarian
work (hours of daylight and the seasons), on the rhythms of the community
(shared space with extended family and the relationships with those in
close proximity), and on the rhythms of the local customs (religious or
social). This is observable today in the traditional societies of Latin
America and Africa where the two modes of temporality are still distinguishable.
Non-western societies observe the frenetic pace of life in many industrialized
western nations and are puzzled by this. Fast, instant, new, quick, busy,
hectic, full are many of the adjectives used to describe the passing of
time. Jacques Ellul proposes that efficiency has become the sole criterion
of value in technological society, yet he perspicaciously notes that “leisure
is the respiratory function of the system. It is the function that lets
us breathe, the escape hatch that gives the illusion of freedom.”128
The meaning of time is seemingly lost in the West.
The human heart needs to punctuate its rhythms
and its sense of time. The regular ceasing from the humdrum and tedium
of ordinary life offers an opportunity to contemplate the meaning of its
passing. Perhaps more importantly, the observance of the Lord’s Day enables
the Christian to accept and receive the truth that all time belongs to
the Lord. It provides a redeemed perspective to the notion that tempus
fugit (“time flies”). This practice can induce hope in an area where despair
at the futility and purposelessness of time’s passing has the upper hand
in western culture. Tonstad examines the negative impact of the prevalence
of “clock time” in modern society and proposes that the sabbath “interrupts
the routine of clock time and the obligation of work by calling creation
to a day of rest according to the great clock of nature.” 129
The sabbath allows the modern people to overcome the de-theologizing of
life induced by the dominance of clock time and to return to creation time
which gives them meaning for life.
B. Connected to
Socrates is famous for having said that the unexamined
life is not worth living. Pascal wrote about his generation that the cause
of man’s unhappiness could be linked to one single cause: “they do not
know how to remain at rest in their own room.”130
This observation made three hundred and fifty years ago holds true all
the more today. The present generation is neither connected to its own
personal past nor to its collective cultural history. The modern person
does not take the trouble to look back and reflect on the lessons learned,
but rather idealistically and romantically gazes forward in time towards
the future. The young especially have little regard for the past.
One of the practices of keeping the Lord’s Day
holy is to recounting God’s blessings in one’s life as well as a recollection
of God’s work in the past week. At the heart of the sabbath command is
the injunction to remember: “Remember to keep the sabbath holy” (Exodus
20:8). Childs observes that the text on the sabbath command contains a
“theology of memory.”131
The act of remembering the small blessings and deeds of God’s deliverance
on a weekly basis is a small habit that can increase the virtue of remembering
the more existential blessings of life, namely God’s work of salvation
from sin and death. Keeping the Lord’s Day holy counteracts the distorting
effect of the future-oriented perspective.
2. Relational Rootedness
One of the traits of western culture is the high
mobility of families and individuals. In a global economy, geographical
stability is not a common pattern for one’s lifelong career. The Bergers
note that individuals are often and easily uprooted from their normal social
milieu which leaves them “homeless,” socially speaking. They note that
religion used to provide a grounding for human beings and in the modern
context, “social ‘homelessness’ has become metaphysical.”132
This is observed when focusing on the changes in family life in modern
culture. The sense of family over the course of the twentieth century has
gone from having strong relations with the extended family, to mainly relating
to one’s immediate family.133
Currently the trends in family life are even more dire as the very structure
of the immediate family is slowly imploding with the rise of divorce.134
Men and women are less and less rooted relationally.
The family is the domestic church, the place where
a significant relational dimension of the Christian life is to be experienced
and taught. As Benedict explains, “from her very inception, the Church
that emerged, and continues to emerge, has attached fundamental importance
to defending the family as the core of all social order.”135
Keeping the Lord’s Day holy contributes to the New Evangelization in the
sense that it proposes a set of practices that strengthen and protect family
life. The emphasis on family life and relationships that the Church recommends
in the application of this commandment gives the modern person a context
for multi-generational relationships. Children, even adult children, stand
much to gain by spending time getting to know their parents, grandparents,
and other older members of their family. Extended families, as dysfunctional
as they may be as a consequence of the Fall, are God-given relationships
intended to test and try the faithful in their practice of charity and
fidelity. Keeping the Lord’s Day holy provides a place in time and in relationships
to strengthen family life.
C. The Meaning
Work in western cultures over the course of the
twentieth century has become an antidote to boredom. As a result, as Fromm
puts it, “work has become alienated from the working person.”136
Thus the modern person must search and filter through the chorus of voices
of these pluralistic societies in order to find the true meaning of work.
The loss of a unified view of the meaning of work makes it more challenging
for the modern person to discover and foster the human dignity found in
labor. Work is often relegated to yet another one of the fragmented and
disjointed elements of a person’s life which has no metaphysical purpose
or substance. For philosopher Josef Pieper, the myth of Sisyphus has become
the “mythical paradigm of the ‘Worker’ chained to his labor without rest,
and without inner satisfaction.”137
The true meaning of work can only be found in the proper understanding
of leisure as the basis for culture. Leisure, as Pieper defines it, is
a “receptive attitude of mind, a contemplative attitude, and it is not
only the occasion but also the capacity for steeping oneself in the whole
In keeping the Lord’s Day holy, the worker comes
to understand and experience properly the place of human work in ordinary
life. As Benedict XVI expresses it in Sacramentum Caritatis: “This is highly
significant, for it [the day of rest] relativizes work and directs it to
the person: work is for man and not man for work. It is easy to see how
this actually protects men and women, emancipating them from a possible
form of enslavement.”(74) The keeping of the Lord’s Day is a protection
against the slavery of work. This practice is therefore a means by which
the New Evangelization can effectively transform and preserve authentic
D. A Disciple’s
a) Giving Time
In observing the command to keep the Lord’s Day
holy, the believer is taught to relate to time in the proper perspective:
time belongs to God. The Christian makes a day holy every seven days by
consecrating it to the Lord and choosing to do things for others rather
than for oneself. Keeping the Lord’s Day holy is training in the virtue
of generosity. If one can be generous with time, generosity in relationships
and in material resources will perhaps more easily follow. This commandment
fortifies the growth in character of the Christian people by providing
the context for a set of practical activities that require generosity.
Worship, rest, solidarity, and family relationships all require a disposition
to be generous with one’s time. Generosity itself is an important part
of the character of a disciple, as it is understood to be one of the gifts
of the Holy Spirit.139
b) The Gift of Good News
Modern western cultures, due to their increased
materialism and individualism, are often lacking in generosity. One of
the compelling methods of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ in
the New Evangelization is through the voice of generosity. The emphasis
on generosity can be a potent witness of the aroma of Christ to the members
of these cultures. In the context of the Lord’s Day, generosity is expressed
relationally through hospitality and through celebration. John Paul II
calls the Church “to hospitality, dialogue, assistance and, in a word,
in places that once were Christian but are now increasingly non-Christian.
The hospitality expressed in a spirit of dominical celebration offers to
reach out to one’s neighbors for a Sunday dinner. Is not this generosity
a fitting response to Paul VI’s concern regarding the prevalent obstacles
to evangelization: “fatigue, disenchantment, compromise, lack of interest
and above all lack of joy and hope?”141
c) Giving to Those in Need
The consumer orientation of our western societies
has readily turned many religious feasts into opportunities for purchasing,
acquiring, and owning. Christmas, Easter, Halloween, St Patrick’s Day all
seem to be very commercially visible today. The sabbath, as Dawn puts it,
contains a paradox: “both a special appreciation of possessions and a desire
not to be dominated by them are part of keeping the sabbath day holy.”142
Materialism is an excess which can be curbed by the practice of giving.
Thus, one aspect of keeping the Lord’s Day is
to practice giving and generosity instead of requiring and taking. Paul
is concerned that the poor in Jerusalem are being neglected and thus he
asks the Galatian and the Corinthian churches to give financially to remedy
this situation (see 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 and then again 2 Corinthians 8:11-15
and 9:6-15). In 1 Corinthians 16:2, the reference to the “first day of
every week” suggests some form of tithing as a Lord’s Day practice in the
The act of giving to fellow Christians in need in Jerusalem teaches the
Corinthians through a Sunday practice that generosity is a mark of the
Church. John Paul II speaks of Sunday as a “day of solidarity”144
in highlighting the need for generosity towards the poor and those in need.
This dimension of the Lord’s Day emphasizes a more horizontal other-oriented
set of practices which shows the breadth of this command.
In the giving of time, the believer is called
to grow in generosity towards God. In the giving of resources to those
in need, the believer is called to grow in generosity towards neighbor
and love of others. As this growth in generosity takes place in the disciple’s
life, the quality of human relationships will increase. The kingdom of
God, brought about through the new evangelization is built on such transformed
2. Joy – A Command to Celebrate!
Paul Lehmann writes about the impact of the blue
laws 146 in
the nineteenth century in this country, which regulated the activities
on the Lord’s Day: “the pious regard for the Lord’s Day had slowly but
surely [by the early twentieth century] been despoiled of celebration,
the making of a holy day, in flagrant violation of the precedent set by
the Creator, who took time off to enjoy all that he had made, and of creation’s
own way of replenishing its energies.”147
Even among Christians, the practice of the Lord’s Day has lost some its
joy and celebrative characteristics. Keeping the Lord’s Day holy reveals
the importance of celebration. The third commandment in some ways is a
command to celebrate and practice one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians
5:22), namely joy. The practice of this commandment calls to mind the many
reasons for the joy inherent in the Christian life. The salvation obtained
by Christ and the worship offered to the Triune God on Sunday in church
is sufficient cause for tremendous joy to be expressed. The practice of
joy on the Lord’s Day extends far beyond the liturgy however. The activities
and the relationships of Sunday are meant to be marked by joy. “Sunday
is the day of joy in a very special way, indeed the day most suitable for
learning how to rejoice and to rediscover the true nature and deep roots
Families that mark the day with joy inculcate in their children some of
the truth of the Christian faith: in Christ’s work there is great cause
for celebration. Joyful celebrating can strengthen strained relationships
by making present the reality of God’s work of healing and deliverance.
The character trait of generosity manifested through
celebration, hospitality, and gift-giving, tithing, and helping those in
need on the Lord’s Day bears witness to the generosity of God. In a culture
turned in on itself, on the individual, and on material things, this generosity
can be the means of a powerful witness of Christian love and by extension
the love of God Almighty.
E. Dialogue and
Keeping a day holy for the Lord was first presented
historically to the Chosen People as the sabbath. As history has unfolded
itself, Islam in the practice of Jumah149
and Christianity in the practice of the Lord’s Day have developed this
ancient command differently.150
The commonality of a holy day in all three monotheistic faiths suggests
a place for dialogue. In 1991, in a document issued by the Pontifical Council
for Inter-Religious Dialogue, the Church summarized several forms of dialogue
with other faiths. Two of these are relevant to keeping the Lord’s Day
holy. First, the “dialogue of life”151
is the form of interreligious dialogue that allows the common human experience
to be a place of discussion. This is the dialogue where members of these
faiths share a neighborhood and living space in such a manner that “it
leaves room for the other person’s identity, modes of expression, and values.”152
That all three monotheistic faiths have a holy day could open the way for
deeper respect and mutual care with regards to how each faith observes
this day of worship. The importance of the practices of keeping the Lord’s
Day holy can be the grounds for the Christian to foster solidarity and
mercy towards members of the human race different from themselves. While
the difference in holy days could also be the grounds for division and
distinction, from the perspective of seeking dialogue, the Christian has
more in common in the West with the Muslim and the Jew than the secularized
atheist or the New Age pagan. Second, the “dialogue of religious experience”153
is the form of interreligious dialogue that allows for a sharing and discussion
at the level of religious traditions and spiritual experience. This dialogue
proposes a sharing of faith at a deeper level in the “ways of searching
for the Absolute.”154
The discussion at the level of practice and understanding of the Lord’s
Day and its riches could open the way for followers of Jesus Christ who
are faithful to this commandment to have a persuasive voice at the interfaith
table of dialogue. Tonstad writes that the meaning of the seventh day has
a unified origin that leads to a common end, the sabbath has unifying power.155
This form of dialogue might prove particularly helpful with the Jews, since
much of Christian Lord’s Day practices have their roots in Judaism.
Worship is the purpose for which human beings
and creation exist. Benedict XVI, in his comments on the creation account
in Genesis, writes that “the creation accounts of all civilizations point
to the fact that the universe exists for worship and for the glorification
This universal existential purpose suggests that the modern human heart
seeking for answers about the human raison d’être might recognize
the Good News of the Creator as it is expressed in the worship of Sunday.
To say that worship is evangelizing is perhaps too simplifying, naïve,
or bold, yet the seeker-friendly mega-church phenomenon in the Evangelical
world is an attempt to test the veracity of evangelizing worship. In these
churches, the Sunday assembly is oriented towards a culturally-sensitive
preaching of the Gospel of Jesus for an audience with little Christian
background and language. These churches often have a weekday assembly that
oriented towards discipleship and communion, aimed at the core (non-seeker)
membership. The success of the proclamatory impact of this experiment on
our culture is by no means conclusive,157
yet the innovative use of Sunday worship might open the door to other evangelizing
forms of Sunday assembly.
The Christian employer who understands the importance
of keeping the Lord’s Day holy might earn a voice in the lives of his Muslim
or Jewish employees by making some accommodation for them to worship on
their holy day. Neighborhoods and schools that are influenced by an understanding
of this commandment might also earn the respect of these monotheistic neighbors
which could be a door to witnessing further to the love and saving power
of Jesus Christ.
Since in Western nations Sunday is still considered
a day off work, the hospitality of Christians on this day can be a venue
for the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ to one’s Jewish and
Muslim neighbors. John Paul II presents Sunday as a day of light that comes
from Jesus Christ 158
and from the a day of faith which lends itself to being a day of proclamation
that brings light, Christ, and faith to those who are seeking.160
Might not these spiritual aspects of the Lord’s Day make it a prime day
for the generous proclamation of the eternal kingdom it represents? In
one of the concluding paragraphs of Dies Domini, he writes that “Sunday
has the additional value of being a testimony and a proclamation”161
and then launches into an inspiring crescendo of reasons for this proclamation
that culminates in the unending Sunday of the heavenly Jerusalem described
in Revelation 21.162
Keeping the Lord’s Day holy contributes to the New Evangelization until
the Lord of the Sabbath completes his Father’s work.
I return now to Jesus’ activity on the sabbath.
As observed above, he taught, he healed, and he rested. I propose in conclusion
that keeping the Lord’s Day holy will in turn teach, heal, and bring us
The Lord’s Day is our teacher. Attending to the
third commandment allows the Lord of that Day to teach his sons and daughters
several noteworthy things: holiness, worship and rest, joy and generosity.
The practices of this day teach us to evangelize by slowly and faithfully
acting as leaven in our needy culture. While not directly evangelizing,
many of the practices of the Lord’s Day propose to reveal the truth about
the nature of time, the centrality of worship, the necessity of true rest,
and the importance of generosity in Christian life. Keeping the Lord’s
Day holy is at the heart of a Christian culture. The way of life gained
by this practice 163
draws people to the Lord as it presents a humanly compelling vision of
The Lord’s Day can heal us. Christ, in our keeping
the Lord’s Day holy, would heal the modern person of many an illness. This
healing is less like the miracles he performed on the sabbath that brought
about instantaneous results and more like the application of a balm that
brings about restoration over time. The believer’s practices to keep the
Lord’s Day holy are a participation in the iterative process of entering
into the rest of the Master. A proper understanding of time, of one’s place
in creation, of one’s work, and of the virtues of generosity and joy will
undoubtedly accomplish much in the healing of the nations that is part
of the New Evangelization.
C. Eternal Rest
As God rested on the seventh day, the work of
evangelization will prepare His creation for the eternal rest that awaits
those whom He has redeemed. Keeping the Lord’s Day holy through worship,
rest, and joy is a participation already in the life of the age to come.
The practices of this day declare in many ways the truth that the work
of creation is complete, our salvation has been won. “Eternity utters a
day,” as the Jewish sabbath prayers propose, and a day utters eternity,
as the Lord’s holiness invites us into his realm.
1. Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy in the Old Testament
2. Keeping the Lord’s Day in the New Testament
“evangelize”, Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford: O.U.P. 2002.
Evangelii Nuntiandi, 24.
Redemptoris Missio, 40.
Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, 121.
Sigve K. Tonstad, The Lost Meaning of the Seventh Day (Berrien Springs,
MI: Andrews University Press, 2009), 13.
Dorothy C. Bass, “Christian Formation in and for Sabbath Rest,” Interpretation:
A Journal of Bible and Theology 59 (January 2005), 31.
Elizabeth Newman, Untamed Hospitality: Welcoming God and Other Strangers
(Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2007), 28-29.
Bass, “Christian Formation in and for Sabbath Rest”, 32.
“New technologies, in living rooms and in editing studios, are helping
drive the pace of art and entertainment, just as they are driving the pace
of virtually everything else in our work lives and our leisure time.” James
Gleick, Faster: the Acceleration of Just About Everything (New York:
Vintage Books, 2000), 174.
Peter L. and Brigitte Berger, The Homeless Mind: Modernization and Consciousness
(New York: Vintage Books, 1974), 149-151.
Jacques Ellul, The Technological System (New York: Continuum, 1980),
Tonstad, The Lost Meaning of the Seventh Day, 382.
“Tout le malheur des hommes vient d’une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir
pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.” (Pensée #139) Blaise Pascal,
Pensées (Nouv. éd. Paris: Hachette et cie, 1904), 54.
“Memory does not serve to arouse a psychological reaction of
sympathy for slaves, rather quite a different theology of memory is at
work. Israel is commanded to observe the sabbath in order to remember its
slavery and deliverance. This connection is even more explicit in Ex 16:3.
The festival arouses and excites the memory.” Childs, The Book of Exodus,
Berger, The Homeless Mind, 184.
These trends have been studied and discussed from many different perspectives.
I cite a few sources here but the literature on this is fairly extensive:
Frank S. Furstenberg, “Coming of Age in a Changing Family System,” in At
the Threshold: The Developing Adolescent, ed. S. Shirley Feldman and
Glen R. Elliott (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990), 148-159;
Arlene Bowers Andrews, “Children and Family Life,” in Globalization
and Children: Exploring Potentials for Enhancing Opportunities in the Lives
of Children and Youth, ed. Natalie Hevener Kaufman and Irene Rizzini
(New York: Kluster Academic Publishers, 2004), 73-75.
Secular research shows that marriage rates have fallen over the past century
and the divorce rate has increased substantially. In addition, the social
changes in the sixties and seventies have brought about the rise of cohabitation
– a new form of “family life.” Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, “Marriage
and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces,” PSC Working Paper Series,
University of Pennsylvania: Scholarly Commons, 2007, http://repository.upenn.edu/psc_working_papers/8
(accessed 18 April 2012), 1-2.
Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, 121.
“Modern man does not know what to do with himself, how to spend his lifetime
meaningfully, and he is driven to work in order to avoid an unbearable
boredom. But work has ceased to be a moral and religious obligation in
the sense of the middle-class attitude of the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries. Something new has emerged. Ever-increasing production, the drive
to make bigger and better things, have become aims in themselves, new ideals.
Work has become alienated from the working person.” Erich Fromm, The
Sane Society (New York: Rinehart, 1955), 179-180.
Pieper, Leisure the Basis of Culture, 73.
Josef Pieper, Leisure the Basis of Culture (London: Faber and Faber,
1952), 51. Note: I used the older translation here because I felt that
the newer one lacked some of the precision and beauty of this definition.
Redemptoris Missio, 37.
Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80.
Dawn, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, 36.
According to some commentators, this passage suggests that the early Christians
may have had a Lord’s Day tithing practice. “The direction to the church
of Corinth, as to the Galatian churches, is that Sunday by Sunday each
member should set aside a portion of his weekly income, so that when Paul
arrives the money will be ready.” F.F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Corinthians
(London: Oliphants, 1971), 158. And also: “The fact that Paul makes such
a reference at all implies that there is some significance to their setting
money aside on this day rather than, for example, ‘once a week.’” Gordon
D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI:
Eerdmans, 1987), 813.
Dies Domini, 69.
“The kingdom aims at transforming human relationships; it grows gradually
as people slowly learn to love, forgive and serve one another.” Redemptoris
The blue laws were of Puritan origin, in the first colonies, but over time
the term came to refer to all “Sunday closing laws.” They were meant to
preserve the sanctity of Sunday by preventing commercial activities on
that day. Peter D. Weinstein, ‘Blue Laws,’ in Encyclopedia Americana
International Edition (Danbury, Conn.: Grolier Academic Reference,
Paul Louis Lehmann, The Decalogue and a Human Future: the Meaning of
the Commandments for Making and Keeping Human Life Human (Grand Rapids,
MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1995), 145.
Dies Domini, 57.
The term is derived from the Arabic word for ‘general assembly’
and has come to mean the ‘day of assembly.’ For Muslims this day is Friday
when they are summoned to remember God and cease from business. “Many modern
Muslim states have declared Friday an official day of rest.” Patrick D.
Gaffney, ‘Friday Prayer,’ in Encyclopaedia of the Quran, edited
by Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Claude Gilliot, and William Graham (Leiden: Brill
Academic Pub, 2002), 272.
Christopher D. Ringwald, A Day Apart: How Jews, Christians, and Muslims
Find Faith, Freedom, and Joy On the sabbath (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2007), 125-126.
Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, Dialogue and Proclamation,
Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, The Attitude of the
Church Towards the Followers of Other Religions: Reflections and Orientations
on Dialogue and Mission, 29.
“The need for belonging, the necessity of rest, and the encounter with
something larger than oneself all find expression in the blessing of the
seventh day. The Sabbath roots of our common humanity are beckoning all
to join in the final homecoming. In the prophetic vision of the end, the
Sabbath is put forward as a great unifier, transcending entrenched divisions,
boundaries, and barriers (Isa. 56:1-7).” Tonstad, The Lost Meaning of
the Seventh Day, 505.
Benedict XVI, In the Beginning…, 28.
critique of a prominent Evangelical leader and writer on the methods of
the megachurch movement certainly suggests that this experiment has not
been entirely successful. Os Guinness, Dining With the Devil: The Megachurch
Movement Flirts With Modernity (Grand Rapids: Hourglass Books, 1993).
Dies Domini, 27.
“Sustaining Christian life as it does, Sunday has the additional value
of being a testimony and a proclamation. As a day of prayer, communion
and joy, Sunday resounds throughout society, emanating vital energies and
reasons for hope. Sunday is the proclamation that time, in which he who
is the Risen Lord of history makes his home, is not the grave of our illusions
but the cradle of an ever new future, an opportunity given to us to turn
the fleeting moments of this life into seeds of eternity. Sunday is an
invitation to look ahead; it is the day on which the Christian community
cries out to Christ, ‘Maranatha: Come, O Lord!’ (1 Cor 16:22). With this
cry of hope and expectation, the Church is the companion and support of
human hope. From Sunday to Sunday, enlightened by Christ, she goes forward
towards the unending Sunday of the heavenly Jerusalem, which ‘has no need
of the sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light
and its lamp is the Lamb’ (Rev 21:23).” Dies Domini, 84.
“This practice offers to Christians a set of activities (or nonactivities),
done together week after week and century after century, that enact central
Christian beliefs, shape specific patterns of communal life, and impart
openness to the grace of God. Engaging in this rich and complex practice
can shape persons and communities in distinctive ways and foster a way
of being in the world that spills over to affect an entire way of life.”
Bass, “Christian Formation in and for Sabbath Rest”, 26.
Heschel, The Sabbath, 101.
Angleys grew up in France, just outside Geneva, in the Alps. He is a member
of The Servants of the Word,
an ecumenical brotherhood of men living single for the Lord. Nico is the
UCO director of University Christian Outreach
in North America. He currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. In
May 2012 he completed his Masters in Theology at Sacred Heart Seminary,
writing his thesis on the Keeping the Lord's Day Holy, copyright
© 2012. Used with permission.