Call to make Sunday the Lord’s Day again hits home
By Kathleen McCarty
In his article “Making Sunday the Lord’s Day Again” (Herald Oct. 7, 2022 issue) Father Jim Baron proposes the idea of taking back Sunday — redeeming Sunday from busy schedules and refocusing the purpose of this day. He suggested making Sunday holy again.
Father Baron’s excellent article made me realize that even though I was “checking the boxes,” I didn’t truly embrace the concept of Sunday. As poet T.S. Eliot observed, “We had the experience, but missed the meaning.” Although I have always attended Mass on Sunday, I have often “missed the meaning” of the Lord’s Day — sometimes in big ways, but also in a myriad of small ways.
It has been my experience that recovering (or discovering) the meaning of things oftentimes occurs when we let go of preconceived notions and allow ourselves to see things anew. Sometimes, getting back to basics can lead to deeper meanings than we ever thought possible. To truly understand what it means to keep Sunday holy, I decided to start with the idea of holiness. What does it mean to be holy?
In the English language, the word “holy” is derived from the Old English word “Halig,” meaning “wholeness.” The Hebrew word for “holy” comes from the root word of “Kadash,” which means “to be set apart for a specific purpose.” These seemingly-disconnected root words fit together quite beautifully when we consider them in relation to the Lord’s Day.
The holiness of Sunday connects these two concepts of sacredness (of being set apart) and wholeness. It is the day that Christ accomplished his greatest work, a work which allows us to be made whole — and to become like him. By honoring Sunday as a day set apart, by making space from the demands of the world, and by our presence at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we open the window for this healing work to take place. We cannot be holy without him. We must set aside time just to be with him and to honor him. God must come first — or everything else will.
If we truly believe that the Second Person of the Trinity became man and entered into time, then time matters, and what we do with the time he has given us matters. Setting apart time to do Sunday well matters.
When Christ rose from the dead, death was no longer given the final word over human life. The Resurrection so transformed human existence that the entire course of history was changed. We cannot take an event of this significance lightly. The Lord’s Day is — and must be — fundamentally different.
In his apostolic letter “Dies Domini” (The Day of the Lord), St. John Paul II goes so far as to say that Sunday shows us the meaning of time itself and is “wholly other.” Because the work of the Redemption was completed on this day, the fabric of time has been altered to the point that Sunday bears a special relationship not only to what happened at the Resurrection, but also to what will happen at the end of time.
Sunday cannot be just like any other day because it has, in a sense, been redeemed. It is intrinsically linked to the Redemption and also to the Second Coming. Because we too are meant to participate in this work of Christ, in the work of Redemption, then the ways we participate in Sunday should reflect the glory of God.
St. Irenaus once said that “the glory of God is man fully alive.” If we treat Sunday as a day like any other, then we risk jeopardizing not only our human potential, but also the potential for the glory of God to be revealed. The extent to which we set apart Sunday as the Lord’s Day is the extent to which Christ is made present to the world, here and now. As St. John Paul II stated so beautifully: “Keeping Sunday holy is the important witness which [Christians] are called to bear, so that every stage of human history will be upheld by hope.”
(Kathleen McCarty is Communications Coordinator for Holy Apostles Parish.)