Making Sunday a Day or Rest
Resting can be difficult amid our busy lives. From school to work, and kids to marriage and friendships, there is always so much going on. As Christians we know that Sunday is our day or rest, but it is not always clear how we should go about resting.
It is good to remember that Sunday is different from the sabbath, which is the Jewish day of rest that takes place on Sunday. We are not obligated to rest in the same measure as they did in the Old Testament, as our rest comes from Christ and not just from abstaining from work and other actions. In this week’s article I look through some ways to make sure we have a restful Sunday.
1. Go to bed early or on time Saturday night.
Waking up tired is sometimes unavoidable. Particularly if you have little children or children who are sick. But if you can, make sure you can wake up rested Sunday morning.
Saturdays are often used as a day to stay up late, and as an evening person I am often guilty of staying up past my own bedtime. (New babies are a good reminder to me to go to bed at an appropriate time). But I know that if I stay up on a Saturday, Sunday morning is a blurry rush. When I am tired, I’m not effective at making decisions, getting the children ready for church, or getting myself ready. Often, we end up late out the door and it is usually my fault. So, I have been working hard at being sure I am ready for Sunday mornings.
Even if you are a person who functions well even without a full night’s rest, being sure your body is rested and cared for when you wake up Sunday morning goes a long way towards ensuring a restful day.
2. Avoid Tasks You Hate or that Cause Stress
I grew up hating doing the dishes. I hated it so much that sometimes I would cry the entire time I was doing them. Thankfully, I don’t feel quite as bad about doing them now. But dishes still aren’t a fun activity. So, Sundays I give myself a day off from worrying about getting them done. I do the dishes Saturday night and Monday morning. But never on a Sunday.
If you don’t enjoy cooking, you could make meals in advance of Sunday. Do extra chores on Saturday to leave Sunday open. I also do lots of laundry on Saturday. It is my goal to make sure there is nothing except clothes worn on Saturday in the laundry baskets on Sunday morning. Usually I can tell when I need to do laundry by to keep things good for Sundays. But if I’m not caught up, I get it done Saturday.
Attend Divine Liturgy or Mass. This is, of course, to fulfil one’s Sunday obligations. But it is also a good start to keeping the day’s focus on God. Other ways to make Sunday a spiritually enriching day is to spend time in private and communal prayer, read from the Bible, read spiritual books, and to listen to Christian music. Participating in a bible or faith study is also a great way to spend Sunday. Consider starting one with your family or friends if you haven’t got one going. Formed.org has good resources for studies. But you could also use an account on Formed to watch a film about a saint or a study on the sacraments.
4. Make Time for Friends and Family
If you have relatives that live far away, call them on a Sunday. Invite friends over for tea after church. Visit with your parents. Sharing your time with others is a great way to grow in being Christ to other people. We partake in Christ ministry in our lives when we take the time to share ourselves with others. Spend time in fellowship, listening, and being present to your friends and family.
5. Sunday Traditions
Set up some Sunday family traditions that sets the day apart. Think of things your children will look forward too. Things that they’ll want to continue doing on Sundays when they have children on their own. Spend time playing board games, going out for ice cream, or even building a family rock collection.
Other fun things you could do is make a secret handshake for your family to use while leaving the house to go to church. Or a special silly dance. Make a family recipe by adding a special ingredient like chocolate shavings to popcorn before watching a movie together as a family.
6. Just Relax!
Do activities you enjoy doing for the purpose of relaxing. I find reorganizing shelves and books calming and enjoy it tremendously. So if I’m feeling stressed or anxious I might spend half an hour tidying and organizing on a Sunday. I don’t consider this work. I’m not doing it to cross it off my to do list. I’m doing it to make me happy and to relax. So if writing, gardening, or cooking helps you relax, by all means spend time on this on a Sunday. Just don’t work on something that is causing you anxiety or stress. Because that makes it work.
Resting is not about doing nothing. It is about rejuvenating yourself and participating in spiritually enriching activities. If you’re experiencing burn-out in your life, find ways to reduce this feeling on Sunday by avoiding stress and obligations on this day. If, by circumstance, you have to work or do other activities on Sunday, make sure you set aside at least one other day in the week to focus on God. God has given us rest through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And this mercy is available to us every day of the week. So if resting on Sunday is impossible, rest in the Lord on a Tuesday or a Thursday. Or whenever God is calling you to give up some time, focus on him, and lay down your heavy burdens.
7. Limit Media and Screen Time
No emails or social media before church. Or even all day. There’s something about knowing you’ve got emails to reply to that makes a soul restless. I don’t like to follow the news too closely because I find that gets me upset. Social media tends to be where I see stories if it isn’t my husband telling me about it. So if I don’t check any media on Sunday morning I’m not in danger of getting incensed about something before arriving at church. (Also, when I’m pregnant, I get particularly feisty about religion and politics. I first realized that in university when a particular Catholic Studies professor said something rather foolish… but that’s another story).
Resting on Sundays
And finally, a note about Sunday from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, to help you frame your plan for resting on Sundays. CCC 1166:
By a tradition handed down from the apostles which took its origin from the very day of Christ’s Resurrection, the Church celebrates the Paschal mystery every seventh day, which day is appropriately called the Lord’s Day or Sunday.”36 The day of Christ’s Resurrection is both the first day of the week, the memorial of the first day of creation, and the “eighth day,” on which Christ after his “rest” on the great sabbath inaugurates the “day that the Lord has made,” the “day that knows no evening.”37 The Lord’s Supper is its center, for there the whole community of the faithful encounters the risen Lord who invites them to his banquet:38
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