5 March, Saturday — The 4th Commandment

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Isa 58:9-14
Lk 5:27-32

….then shall your light rise in the darkness

Back in the 60s & early 70s when I was growing up in Alabama, Sunday was, for everyone, the Lord’s Day.  It was spent at church in the morning and the rest of the day with family & close friends. Always a great day, church on Sunday morning and then extended time and great meals shared. No one went to the grocery store – they were all closed. No one went to the mall – they were all closed. No one went to the gas station – they were all closed. Airports had very limited flights on Sundays. A few restaurants were open. Alcohol couldn’t be sold on Sundays. The bowling alley, skating rink and the like opened after 1pm, if at all, once everyone was home from church. Sunday was the day of light – the day we all took a deep breath and said private and public ‘thank you’s to God in unison. Always a day of relaxing and ease. No meetings or events, other than an occasional wedding or baby shower, were held on Sundays.

And then all of a sudden, Sunday became like Saturday. A great day because of no school and no work, but not a SPECIAL DAY. Not a HOLY DAY. Just another day. Most everyone still went to church, and many families still had Sunday supper or dinner at Grandma’s, but other events started taking priority. Not just sports on TV, but sporting or arts events that our kids were involved in. Every Sunday. First nothing started till 1pm, then noon, then as early as 8am in the morning for tournaments for kids as young as six or eight years old. Other events took a priority over family and worship. In reality, the priorities we started ‘worshipping’ on Sunday became ourselves and what we created; not the Creator. 

Subtly, the darkness has taken the Lord’s day. The Sabbath has become the ‘weekend’, and it’s usually not holy. Sunday has become just another day to honour sports, relaxation… self. SELF.

Remember the Sabbath day and keep it Holy. That’s #4 on the BIG LIST. 

According to Merriam-Webster the word SABBATH has two definitive definitions.

  1. The seventh day of the week observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening as a day of rest and worship by Jews and some Christians.
  2. Sunday observed among Christians as a day of rest and worship.

…and HOLY has five, all saying virtually the same thing: Divine; devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity; having divine quality, venerated as or as if sacred; exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.

It’s not easy to keep the Sabbath Day holy. It’s not. So much ‘world’ is in the way — screaming, offering things we want, even good things. Just like Jesus said, paraphrased, ‘it’s not going to be easy to follow me, in fact it’s going to be difficult; you must deny your own self, even those you love’. If you’ve lived more than a decade or two, you know life isn’t easy. 

I recently listened to a short podcast by Father Mike Schmitz on keeping the Sabbath Day holy. He agreed that for us to go from about an hour of ‘holy’ at Mass, it would be extremely difficult to morph that into 24 holy hours. So, he suggested we start with just adding an additional hour of holiness to our day, possibly two hours, and hopefully becoming a portion of the day, like from 3pm onwards. Whatever we can. Just begin. This Sunday. Tomorrow. Pencil God in for an extra 20 minutes  of intentional focus. Relax with God, sing with, to or about God. Read scripture, slowly. Say the full rosary – all 20 mysteries. Or even just a few prayers (some Our Fathers and Hail Marys if spontaneous personal prayer isn’t easy or comfortable for you….yet) for yourself, your family, friends, the clergy, our elected officials….the whole world. Read a ‘Jesus’ something, magazine, a book in your hand or a google will instantly give you link upon link.

Breathe in God. Journal a bit about God, to God, praising Him, thanking Him, yelling at Him, just communicate, put yourself FULLY in His presence. Worship. Be light by allowing His light to reflect thru you. Be more loving that usual to those in your space – be Christ. Open your eyes wider, listen more intently to those around you. 

And then, do it again next Sunday.

Do it enough Sundays in a row and your ‘extra’ holy hour will turn into HOURS. And your heart will be lighter even though it is fuller with love, and your mind will be clearer. Your breathing will calm your being. When we fill ourselves with true worship of God, simply by purposefully sitting with Him, well, the world changes. For the better. Always. 

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Lent 2022, a good day to fast from scrolling or watching TV and sit with Jesus, keeping the Sabbath day HOLY, at least for an hour, don’t you think?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer: Lord God, help me to keep the Sabbath Day holy. Help me to focus more on You than on myself. Place in front of me the ‘thing’ I need to see, to read, so that I can let go of my crosses, of my goals, of my plans, even if just for a short time, so that I can reflect your light, so that I will come out of the darkness and keep the Sabbath Holy.

Thanksgiving: Father God, how I praise your name and thank you for the endless opportunities in each minute of my life to see You, to recognize You in the glory of all that is good. I thank you for the unfathomable and undeserved love that you have for me. Father God, help me to be Holy on this Sabbath day, and all the days of my life as I walk with You.

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