I’m not going to lie…until about a year ago I never really “kept” the Lord’s day. Aside from going to Mass, my Sunday’s looked a whole lot like the other days of my week. The weekends were always dedicated to getting stuff done. It was my time to hit the refresh button on my week by ordering and knocking off tasks on my to-do list, so that I could start the week with a clean slate.
My plate never felt clean, and I wasn’t feeling refreshed. I was feeling overworked and overloaded. Sunday would roll around, and I’d feel rushed to get to Mass, treating it as though it were something else to check off my to-do list.
As I started to evaluate my life a bit, trying hard to pinpoint exactly why I was feeling so burdened, I realized it was because I never gave myself a break or allowed myself to truly rest in God. If I were watching a movie with Joe, I’d be folding laundry. If I sat down to enjoy a cup of coffee, it was usually with my planner in hand as well.
As I began evaluating why I was living life this way, one major reason kept coming to mind: guilt. I realized that my to-do list that poured into my Sundays, was never really about me (i.e. to nourish me), but more about what I needed to accomplish for others, or so I could prove to myself that I was “doing a good job” in life. What kind of a mother doesn’t do the laundry on Sunday? What kind of a mother actually sits and enjoys a cup of coffee with her husband when there’s so much to be done? Not a mother I felt I could be. I started seeing that my to-do list directly correlated to what I thought defined my worth. If my house wasn’t clean, or if I wasn’t on top of things for the week to come, I felt like a bad mom and a bad wife.
I had to pause and really reflect on the fact that my worth doesn’t come in my work or in what I do. It comes in the fact that I am a child of God.
The work I do and what I am able to accomplish in the amount of time I am given is important, but it doesn’t define my human dignity.
While it is true that work is a part of God’s plan for our lives, so is offering that work and our whole lives as a gift to him in worship. This is how it was to be from the beginning of our creation. God created man to live in harmony and this meant that man’s work and his worship were tied together; they were not separated as they so often are today. Everything man did was an act of worship to God.
As a result of the Fall, it is not so easy to live that way today. Or work and worship aren’t always in harmony, and as such, we need to rely on the grace of God to restore and rejuvenate us, so that we can find harmony in life again.
Since practicing Sunday as a day set aside for worship and rest, I’ve found a lot of of order and peace come into my life. I no longer feel burdened by my to-do list, and I feel free on Sunday to rest in God’s embrace and acknowledge that he loves me. It’s amazing how well God knows our hearts, because when we take the time to rest in him, he fills us with his love, and gives us the graces we need to begin again each week.
Here are 5 tips for keeping the Lord’s Day Holy:
I think one of the biggest things you’ll have to rearrange in your life, in order to find rest on Sunday, is to rearrange your weekend workload. Begin treating Saturdays as your day to tackle your to-do list.
Saturdays for me use to be my excuse to get up late, put off chores, and relax with my family. But by the time Sunday rolled around, I was left with grocery shopping to do, piles of laundry, and endless amount of cleaning to get done before my week even started. It’s no wonder people loathe Mondays so much. It’s because they’re tired.
Pull out that to-do list, and knock off everything that has to be done to make your week better and work more smoothly. Get it all done on Saturday. Try to take any (and if possible all) obligational duties off your plate for Sunday. I know this is not always possible for everyone due to work or family schedules, but try your best to utilize Saturday in order to free up Sunday.
If you’ve focused on getting all of your necessary tasks done on Saturday, I promise you, you’ll find so much freedom come Sunday.
With all that extra free time you have, pull out that favorite book you’ve been meaning to read! Take up the hobby you’ve always loved! Spend quality time with your family, without worries that you’re getting behind.
True leisure becomes worship when the condition of our soul leads us to greater contemplation about the meaning of life and our purpose in it. When we give ourselves time to celebrate life properly by doing things that bring us joy, we glorify God with our lives.
By giving yourself time to rest in the things you love, you’ll feel energized for your week to come! Monday won’t feel so burdensome anymore! You’ll be excited to get back to work on Monday, and your mind and spirit will also more easily be able to discern how your work is to be an offering to God!
One of the biggest challenges for me when I started trying to keep Sundays holy was finding a balance in letting things go. At first it was really hard for me to not get anxious about the dishes that were piling up, or the laundry that wasn’t getting done. I’d feel restless about it and guilty that I was putting that all on my family.
Honestly, it was just something I had to get over. I had to accept that for me, the burden of always having the kitchen perfect, the laundry done, meals planned, grocery lists figured out, and all the other stay-at-home mom duties I have, are part of my obligatory workload. I had to really pray about offering those things to God on Sunday, and allow myself to not worry so much about them until Monday. There’s always time for the to-do list to get done, but we never take enough time to actually fill our souls.
Give yourself permission on Sunday to stop worrying so much about the chores you feel obligated to do. If your home keeping is a burden for you, don’t touch it on Sunday. Let the dishes pile, eat leftovers, and save the laundry for Monday. Tackle your workload on Saturday, and save the rest for the office on Monday.
Once you get used to having more free time on your hands each Sunday, you may experience a feeling of idle time. One thing that’s tempting with all the newfound time you have is to allow technology to rule your Sunday.
Don’t do it.
Use your day to pursue your hobbies. Focus on giving your family quality time. Pray a bit more than you usually do. Sunday rest does not equate to staring at blank walls all day. Actively pursue the things that fill you. If you find joy in cooking, cook! If you love nature, go outside! Don’t merely kill time on Sunday, but use it as a day to give life and energy to your week!
The most important thing you can do on Sunday is to go to Mass. The day is reserved for the worship of God, and proper worship doesn’t happen in your home alone. It happens in community, and by partaking of the Most Holy Eucharist. Don’t miss Mass. Make it your Sunday priority.
Did you know that the word “Mass” comes from the Latin phrase “Ite, Misse Est,” which literally translates to “Go, it is dismissed.” A big part of going to Mass is that we get the grace and nourishment from Christ we need to go out into the world and live good, holy, Christian lives.
This means that every Sunday, when we go to Mass, we are commissioned to live our duties as Christians. We are to proclaim the goodness of Christ to the world. Getting the proper nourishment we need on Sunday will do wonders for what we will be able to accomplish as Christians throughout the rest of the week.
[Just a note for those of you who work on Sundays: there are Sunday Mass Vigils available on Saturday nights starting at 4 pm. It may mean you have to head to a Church that’s a bit out of your way, but there are plenty of Mass times to fulfill your Sunday obligation.]
All in all: Don’t waste your Sundays! Celebrate the Lord’s day and be mindful of keeping it holy. You’re life will be blessed if you do, and in turn, you will become a blessing to those around you.