Monday, May 19, 2008

Sanctifying your Sunday

The third commandment tells us to keep holy the Lord's day by going to Mass, engaging in other spiritual exercises or reading, and by not engaging in servile work, other than what is necessary for our family, or required for the good of our neighbour or the honour of God.

That means no shopping, other than necessities like food or gas, according to my priest. I recently asked him if it's alright to stop at a certain store that I only pass by on my way to Mass every Sunday, to pick up a few (unnecessary but convenient) items. He said no, that it would be breaking the third commandment.

I have come to terms with the no shopping except food and gas rule, but I still struggle with how much work around the house I can get away with on Sunday. My hobby is gardening and landscaping. (Yes, I really do have a hobby outside of blogging!) Yesterday, after Mass, I did some spiritual reading (The Glories of Mary and Imitation of Christ), prayed the rosary and the chaplet, My God I love Thee, - so far so good- then I headed out to the yard and started planting a new garden for ornamental grasses. I ran short of plants, so I headed to the nursery for more. Not only did I engage in servile work, which really could have waited until today, but I went shopping for plants.

How much work is too much? If it's your hobby do you allow yourself to "work" on Sunday? I'd be interested to hear readers opinions on what is proper for keeping the Lord's day holy.


Mamselle Duroc said...

Oooh, interesting topic, and one that I've been pondering lately.

I too, love to garden. For the first time in many years, we've had a peaceful spring at home, and I've been tidying up the yard, plotting out the garden, and watching the flowers come up. But whether or not to do it on Sunday? That's one I've been trying to figure it out.

Here are some of my half-developed thoughts: I'm trying to strike a balance. For me, gardening is a hobby... it's relaxing and fun. But, at the same time, it is, by it's nature, labor. It requires hard work.

My violin-playing is somewhat the same way. It's relaxing and fun, but it can be real work if I'm going in for a hard-core practice, in preparation for a lesson or performance.

I try to strike a balance. As far as the violin goes, I don't cut it out of my Sunday because a hard-core practice would be difficult work. I simply don't do a hard-core practice. I play a little, have fun, relax.

I try to apply the same balance to gardening. Rather than go out and do some hard raking and hauling, I water the flowers, do some weeding, and do other such light work, maybe while saying a rosary.

In theory, that is. Like I said, my thoughts are only half-developed, and I realize there's a great difference between the labor of a violin and gardening (violin can be difficult, but it just doesn't have the panting, sweating, muscle-straining, servile aspects of gardening), and so I don't know if I can apply the same line of thought to both things.

Anonymous said...

I have been struggling wit this for awhile. For me, it is different as a homemaker with a very clingy 11 month old clearly care for her is obligatory and exempted. I wonder if Sunday's meals should be pre-prepared to reduce kitchen work and if dishes should wait until Monday. Then I wonder if this comes up only due to our relative affluence.

So often Sunday seems to be a catch up day.My husband works full-time, is working on his thesis and we recently bought our house---there is so much to do. It is much easier to accomplish any task with another adult around---especially due to our little one.

Maybe if Sunday (afternoon) were devoted to visiting W/ family &/or friends we would do a better job of observing the Sabbath.

paramedicgirl said...

Thanks for input. Mamselle, as far as I understand, music would not be considered labour of the sort that would break the Sabbath, and it sounds as though you are connecting it to family time. Wonderful!

Anon - thanks for your thoughts. I agree that Sunday can be a "catch up' day if we are not careful to guard its holiness, and I think that visiting with family and friends would be an ideal way to spend a Sunday. (After Mass and spiritual reading, of course)

Mark said...

In all that you do, do it for the Lord Jesus and the Glory of God; this is the way to make every day a Sabbath.

If it is not a sin to work on a Sunday if you must to retain your job, then one must work at keeping from falling into a Jansenist sort of rigorism, while simultaneously avoiding loosing the sacrality of Sunday altogether. Ah, but then, we are sinners ever in need of a savior!

Mamselle Duroc said...

Mark, yes, that's just the thing for me. Striking the proper balance. I don't want Sunday to become the 'sit in the corner all day and read your Bible,' but I want to make sure I don't push it too much with the gardening and turn a recreational hour of a favorite hobby into a hard day of labor. Maybe it's just a matter of not getting too caught up in it... being particularly mindful of the day, and enjoying the outdoors, sunshine, and flowers, and not attempting to re-organize the whole garden.

But I must confess, this whole conversation is completely throwing me off! When I posted a comment this morning, the topic somehow gave me the idea that today was Sunday, and I temporarily rejoiced over the fact that I didn't have to study geometry after all... then I caught a glimpse of the calendar. ;) Ah well!

Theocoid said...

If planting an ornamental garden is therapuetic and enjoyable for you, it doesn't really qualify as "work," does it?

paramedicgirl said...

Theocoid, I think the planting part was ok (I read somewhere in the Baltimore Catechism once that two hours of servile work is alright), but it's the shopping for plants part that I should have skipped.

When I got to the nursery, there were more cars there than the parking lot could host, and this was Sunday. Obviously, Sunday has become a mass shopping day for many people. And I contributed to the store's desire to stay open on Sunday, by being one more customer willing to shop on Sunday.

ignorant redneck said...


When I was aCatechumen, I asked this exact question of the priest who was giving me instructions.

His answer was interesting, not just for the answer itself, but how he arrived at it.

If gardening was paid or labour, that is, you sold the produce of your hands, it was servile labour. If however, gardening was your hobby--it was recreation, psychological rest. So if you went to Mass, (which is what the precepts of the Church set as the minimum standard of Sabbath observance), and were doing it to recreate, then it wasn't a violation of the Sabbath. No matter how "hard you worked" it was recreation. To disallow it would be in the same vein as disallowing music, or games with the kids or what have you.

As to the shopping on the Sabbath--that's a bit touchier, but I think that buying plants etx for your garden might not be in the same league as the groceries or clothing--things you buy as part of a mindset of "commercial activity".

But perhaps it's best to remember what the Lord said: "The Sabbath was made for Man, not Man for the Sabbath."

Tom in Vegas said...

I tipically stay home on Sundays. I used to have to work, but now, thank God, I'm off.

Shirley said...

I like IR's answer; I consider doing anything in the garden as recreation; but I agree that you could have avoided shopping for plants. And like Mark says; do it all for the Lord,not just on Sunday, but try to be aware of Him every moment (easier said than done).