Keep it Holy
Off the Wall, Aug 15
, 2013

If ever there was a subject that has fallen by the wayside, it’s keeping the Sabbath a holy day.

Do people nowadays really know the meaning of those last two words? Most everyone knows the Sabbath is the day of rest, worship and doing something one enjoys.

Before I get to that last phrasing, let me touch upon the definition of “Holy day.” Easily understood, it means “a day of which a religious observance is held.”

Could one say that could be every day or only on Sunday? To my way of thinking, since I am Roman Catholic and may go to Mass every day whereby I would take part in a religious celebration, it certainly could be considered a holy day as well. After all, what is the difference between going to Mass on Thursday as opposed to Sunday? The priest may give a longer homily Sunday. Between certain months there is choir participation as well.

Back in the 60’s, I remember a good many stores observed the blue laws. Christians, in particular, knew that it was their duty to keep their stores closed and not work at all on Sunday. Eventually, some gave way to the pressures of society and let it rule, opening their doors seven days of the week.

There seems to be a laxness now, more than ever. People from all Christian denominations will think nothing of retailing or shopping on Sunday. Others will seek work and again think nothing of working on that day.

So, what gives here? Certainly, the commandment has not been stricken from the books. What seems to be the answer to this question?

Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., JD, chaplain for several national Catholic apostolates, an adjunct professor of theology at Franciscan university of Steubenville, Ohio, and an assistant pastor at St. Peter'’ Church in the same city writes, “It is permitted to do necessary work on Sunday if you fulfill your weekend Mass obligation. Depending on your hours, perhaps you could worship at an early Mass. If that is not possible, then you should consider worshipping in a Saturday afternoon Mass. We hope for your sake that you can satisfy your obligation in one of these ways.

I assume you have at least one day off from work.

Get and study a copy of Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic letter on keeping the Lord’s Day holy. It is easily accessible on the Internet at Then try to bring to some portion of your day off the hallowing of which Blessed John Paul spoke so profoundly.”

Since I get a stipend for writing this column, I decided to take the question of working on Sunday to our priest at Holy Family Church a number of years ago. I was told, “If you get paid for your work, it would be better to hold off and either write before the Sabbath or after it and not do it on Sunday.

Every so often, I find myself discussing with a neighbor or friend an activity that I enjoy doing. Sometimes I will commit these acts on Sunday to which I often get reprimanded. “You can’t do that Mr. Pee Vee. That’s work and you shouldn’t be working on Sunday,” to which I’ll reply, “It may be work to you, but it gives me great pleasure and enjoyment.” I often hear the comeback, “It certainly is work. I hate painting.” I think my statement corresponds to the statement, “What is one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” If I foresee that painting will be drudgery to me, I will not do so on a Sunday. However, most the time I find it very relaxing and a time to collect my thoughts.

I think anytime someone puts forth effort that requires the usage of strength, mental aptitudes, or shopping, that is certainly work to me. So where does one draw the line?

There are certain things that can be circled with a pencil, for instance. This includes shopping, cleaning or retailing.

On the other hand, think of all the wonderful things we can do for others that may, at first, sound like work, but be rewarding in the end, such as extending an invitation to others to go to church and then taking them, taking a senior for a drive in the country, to a lake or participating in some form of recreation, such as fishing.

Why not try praying about your endeavors. Let the Lord lead. The Holy Spirit will definitely guide you in the direction to which you should yield. His way is God’s way.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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