Linda Oppelt

Making Sunday the Lord’s Day Again

By Father Jim Baron

I propose we take a cue from a punk-rock band called “Taking Back Sunday.” Although the band name probably has nothing to do with celebrating the Sabbath, it just seems like an overall great project: Take Back Sunday as the Lord’s Day.

For many of us, Sunday differs very little from the other days of the week. It has become the day to catch up on grocery shopping, homework, laundry, chores, etc. It is anything but a day of rest. But that is what it is meant to be, so let’s take it back from the tyranny of schedules, sports practices, work, chores, and useless distraction. Let’s take back Sunday from those things that enslave us and take back Sunday for the Lord who sets us free!

What if I told you that, just maybe, God does not want us to crowd our lives with more activities? That “busy-ness” is not a beatitude? Too good to be true? But that is what Sunday is about. Just doing less. Letting our souls catch up with our bodies. Making time for the enjoyment of enjoyable things. Time with others. Time for a nap. Time for reading. Time to cook a nice meal. Time for prayer. Most importantly, time for the Lord. We cannot create more time, so we must decide how we will use what we have got. And let’s face it, many of us do not budget our time that well. God gave us a place to start: keep holy the Sabbath.

When I proposed this idea to parents at an affluent parish, there was a lot of eye-rolling and “yeah right”. These poor parents were enslaved to their kids’ highly demanding sports schedules and a pace of life that was making them and their kids more stressed out. They could not bring themselves to “opt out” of the creeping demands of our secular society. Sound familiar? 

But it does not have to be this way! It can stop and we can stop it. How? One way is by taking back Sunday and making it the Lord’s Day again.

Setting aside Sunday as the Lord’s Day sets a limit to the overreach of the tyranny of other things. Too busy to go to church on Sunday? Then you’re just too busy! Yes, there are some people who have no control over their employment schedule and cannot get out of work on Sunday. But that does not mean it should be the norm. And we all should avoid things that require other people to work on Sundays. But that is a topic for another day.

The bottom line is that if we want to make a big difference in our lives and in the world, we do not need some new gimmick. The solution is right in front of us and is much simpler than you think. It’s about changing our habits and re-ordering our priorities. Say it with me, let’s take back Sunday!

As part of the Eucharistic Revival, I will be offering some encouragement to help us make Sunday the Lord’s Day again and offer some insights as to why this is such a good thing.

To get a head start, check out the book by John Mark Comer, “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry.” He is a savvy Protestant pastor who has discovered much of what Catholics have forgotten about ordering our time in such a way that we grow closer to God and better maintain the peace Christ has won for us. It’s worth a read . . and a re-read.

(Father Jim Baron is Director of Mission and Strategic Planning for the Diocese of Colorado Springs.)

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