By Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel
Special to the Texas Catholic
The third commandment of the Decalog calls us to keep God’s day holy. As Christians we observe God’s day on Sunday, the day of the resurrection, the day on which the great work of Jesus’ redemption was accomplished by his victory over sin and death. Keeping God’s day holy can be difficult in our time and culture. The world sometimes works to blot out any reference to God in our lives. Sometimes we turn in on ourselves and are so occupied with our busy lives that we don’t make room for God and the things of God.
Sunday is the time to acknowledge the primacy of God in our lives. We adore and worship the creator of all things, the one who sustains being and life, loves us and desires an intimate relationship with us. God loves us enough to share in our human nature and win for us everlasting life.
On Sunday, we set aside time to worship and adore God in the most perfect way we are capable of doing—participating in the Eucharist, the Mass. In the Mass, the perfect work of Jesus Christ—his obedience of God the father in heaven, his life, death and resurrection— is made present on the altar and we join ourselves to this work as our worship and adoration of the father in heaven. There is no more perfect way to worship and adore the father in heaven.
So much follows from our obligation to worship, love and adore the one, true God. If we love someone, it follows that we want to know as much as possible about them.
The same is true with God. Studying how God has made himself known to us through the Scriptures and the teachings of the church helps us to know the one we love more. Acknowledging and teaching our faith to others by our words and our manner of life is also a part of the worship due to God.
Another part of the commandment is that we should avoid all unnecessary work on Sundays. This important aspect of the commandment calls us to recognize the higher part of our human nature. We should remember that we have a body and a soul. The soul needs nourishment just as the body does. Work is a way of providing for our bodily needs of food, clothing and shelter. But work is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Our dignity as human beings is that we are created by God, called to everlasting life. We are not just machines or cogs in the machine of business. Our souls need to be nourished with deepening our relationship with God, spiritual reading, visiting the sick, works of charity and studying our faith. Recreation and rest give proper balance to our lives as human beings who have body, mind and soul.
Good observance of God’s day for Catholics would include assisting at Mass, some spiritual reading, getting together with family and friends and works of charity. This is how we keep Holy the Sabbath.