Thursday, January 30, 2014

Life in Christ: The Third Commandment


Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but
the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work.90
The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the
2168 The third commandment of the Decalogue recalls the holiness of the sabbath: "The seventh day
is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD."92
2169 In speaking of the sabbath Scripture recalls creation: "For in six days the LORD made heaven and
earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the
sabbath day and hallowed it."93
2170 Scripture also reveals in the Lord's day a memorial of Israel's liberation from bondage in Egypt:
"You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you
out thence with mighty hand and outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to
keep the sabbath day."94
2171 God entrusted the sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable covenant.95 The sabbath is
for the Lord, holy and set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on
behalf of Israel.
2172 God's action is the model for human action. If God "rested and was refreshed" on the seventh
day, man too ought to "rest" and should let others, especially the poor, "be refreshed."96 The sabbath
brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of
work and the worship of money.97
2173 The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the sabbath law. But
Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day.98 He gives this law its authentic and authoritative
interpretation: "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath."99 With compassion, Christ
declares the sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing.100 The sabbath
is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God.101 "The Son of Man is lord even of the
This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.103
The day of the Resurrection: the new creation
2174 Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week."104 Because it is the "first day," the day of
Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the sabbath,105 it
symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first
of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:
We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the
first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day
Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.106
Sunday - fulfillment of the sabbath
2175 Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week;
for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday
fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship
under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects
of Christ:107
Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer
keeping the sabbath, but the Lord's Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.108
2176 The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human
heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship "as a sign of his universal
beneficence to all."109 Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its
rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.
The Sunday Eucharist
2177 The Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church's life.
"Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is
to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church."110
"Also to be observed are the day of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension
of Christ, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christi, the feast of Mary the Mother of God, her
Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, the feast of Saint Joseph, the feast of the Apostles Saints
Peter and Paul, and the feast of All Saints."111
2178 This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age.112 The
Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful "not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some,
but to encourage one another."113
Tradition preserves the memory of an ever-timely exhortation: Come to Church early, approach
the Lord, and confess your sins, repent in prayer. . . . Be present at the sacred and divine liturgy,
conclude its prayer and do not leave before the dismissal. . . . We have often said: "This day is
given to you for prayer and rest. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be
glad in it."114
2179 "A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a
particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the
authority of the diocesan bishop."115 It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for
the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary
expression of the liturgical life: it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ's saving
doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love:
You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations
are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of
minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.116
The Sunday obligation
2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: "On Sundays and other
holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass."117 "The precept of
participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic
rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day."118
2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason
the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a
serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.119 Those
who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.
2182 Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging
and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in
faith and charity. Together they testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen
one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
2183 "If because of lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the celebration of
the Eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the Liturgy of the
Word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of
the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family
or, as occasion offers, in groups of families."120
A day of grace and rest from work
2184 Just as God "rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done,"121 human life has a
rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord's Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and
leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.122
2185 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or
activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of
the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body.123 Family needs or important
social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it
that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.
The charity of truth seeks holy leisure- the necessity of charity accepts just work.124
2186 Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs
and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery. Sunday is traditionally
consecrated by Christian piety to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the
elderly. Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives,
often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of
the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.
2187 Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making
unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord's Day. Traditional
activities (sport, restaurants, etc.), and social necessities (public services, etc.), require some people to
work on Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure. With
temperance and charity the faithful will see to it that they avoid the excesses and violence sometimes
associated with popular leisure activities. In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should
ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward
their employees.
2188 In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of
Sundays and the Church's holy days as legal holidays. They have to give everyone a public example of
prayer, respect, and joy and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of
society. If a country's legislation or other reasons require work on Sunday, the day should nevertheless
be lived as the day of our deliverance which lets us share in this "festal gathering," this "assembly of
the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven."125
2189 "Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Deut 5:12). "The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn
rest, holy to the Lord" (Ex 31:15).
2190 The sabbath, which represented the completion of the first creation, has been replaced by
Sunday which recalls the new creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.
2191 The Church celebrates the day of Christ's Resurrection on the "eighth day," Sunday, which is
rightly called the Lord's Day (cf. SC 106).
2192 "Sunday . . . is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church" (CIC,
can. 1246 § 1). "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in
the Mass" (CIC, can. 1247).
2193 "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound . . . to abstain from those
labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper
to the Lord's Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body" (CIC, can. 1247).
2194 The institution of Sunday helps all "to be allowed sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their
amilial, cultural, social, and religious lives" (GS 67 § 3).
2195 Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them
from observing the Lord's Day.
90 Ex 20:8-10; cf. Deut 5:12-15.
91 Mk 2:27-28.
92 Ex 31:15.
93 Ex 20:11.
94 Deut 5:15.
95 Cf. Ex 31:16.
96 Ex 31:17; cf. 23:12.
97 Cf. Neh 13:15-22; 2 Chr 36:21.
98 Cf. Mk 1:21; Jn 9:16.
99 Mk 2:27.
100 Cf. Mk 3:4.
101 Cf. Mt 12:5; Jn 7:23.
102 Mk 2:28.
103 Ps 118:24.
104 Cf. Mt 28:1; Mk 16:2; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1.
105 Cf. Mk 16:1; Mt 28:1.
106 St. Justin, I Apol. 67:PG 6,429 and 432.
107 Cf. 1 Cor 10:11.
108 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Magn. 9,1:SCh 10,88.
109 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II,122,4.
110 CIC, can. 1246 § 1.
111 CIC, can. 1246 § 2: "The conference of bishops can abolish certain holy days of obligation or
transfer them to a Sunday with prior approval of the Apostolic See."
112 Cf. Acts 2:42-46; 1 Cor 11:17.
113 Heb 10:25.
114 Sermo de die dominica 2 et 6:PG 86/1,416C and 421C.
115 CIC, can. 515 § 1.
116 St. John Chrysostom, De incomprehensibili 3,6:PG 48,725.
117 CIC, can. 1247.
118 CIC, can. 1248 § 1.
119 Cf. CIC, can. 1245.
120 CIC, can. 1248 § 2.
121 Gen 2:2.
122 Cf. GS 67 § 3.
123 Cf. CIC, can. 120.
124 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 19,19:PL 41,647.
125 Heb 12:22-23.

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