Pope Blessed John Paul II wrote an
inspiring, encouraging and challenging letter to the world at large on the
Lord’s Day (Sunday) Dies Domini. In this
spiritual masterpiece the Holy Father expresses in a clear and updated fashion
the challenges of living out the third commandment--- “Remember to keep the Lord’s
Day holy”. “The Great” (Pope John Paul II) laments over the fact of
a continuously more secular world in
which the real meaning of Sunday—the
day of the Lord and the day of rest--- is being radically transformed into a
“Weekend”, paganistic, secular, materialistic escape from reality because it is
becoming of day of escape from God. How ironic, because truly the heart of the
Sabbath is union with God Himself.
The following will be an explanation of what is the true meaning of "Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy". In addition to drawing close to our loving
Father, through Jesus Christ His beloved Son and the power of the Holy Spirit,
Sunday should also be “Family Day.”
FOUNDATION OF SUNDAY: HOLY MASS!
The foundation, center, heart, and essence
of keeping holy the Sabbath is HOLY MASS!
All the families of the world should treasure and relish the Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass as the heart of their lives.
The Church reminds us that we should participate fully, actively, and
consciously in Holy Mass. Attendance is indispensable! Church attendance has
plummeted in the past few years. However attendance should be active, full and
conscious. The culminating moment of Holy Mass is the ECUHARIST: the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus
Christ, which truly becomes present in the moment of Consecration. At
Communion, our hearts becomes both Tabernacle and “Bethlehem” (House of Bread).
Upon receiving Holy Communion with faith, love, devotion and intense fervor,
every member of the family receives indeed a “Spiritual Heart Transplant”! Why and how?
For the simple reason that we receive the total Christ and that includes
the noblest part of Jesus--- His very Sacred Heart! Mass and fervent Holy
Communion indeed is what cements and fortifies families in authentic love!
FAMILY TIME: FROM TABLE TO TABLE!
After participating in the Sacrifice of Calvary and Eucharistic Banquet
(nourished on the Bread of the Angels) a family meal together--- Brunch with
the family bunch! Nourishing our bodies
is important, but nourishing our souls and fortifying family bonds of
communication is even more important! Modern families suffer from a serious
lack of communication. It seems as if this cliché influences all of us: “I have
no time!” Wrong! It is not so much that
we have not time, but rather that we have wrong priorities! After God the
family should have priority! Spouses should connect with each other; parents
also with their children; also very important siblings should find this time to
talk, converse, communicate, laugh and enjoy each other’s company. Not a bad
idea to learn a joke or two to lighten and rejuvenate the atmosphere. Often
after I share a meal with families or friends my end comment is “The meal was
great, but the company much greater!”
Social studies have proved with teenagers that there is a huge
difference between teens that have frequent meals with their parents and those
who do not. A few of the stats! Those
teens who have no family contact through meals their grades plummet; they have
problems with drink and drugs, depression sets in often leading to suicide and
sports performance lag behind! In short, families must find time to eat
together and enjoy each other as a gift from God! One more concrete suggestion to
rejoice fully in family meals: no electronic gadgets to be used during the meal
time! This means no use of TV. radio,
internet, cell-phone, I-pad, Kindle, walk-man….None of these, please!!! If not, then the five family members with the
dog “Petie” are all siting at the same table together but every individual family
member is enclosed, absorbed, wrapped up in his own little world! A very poor way to forge family bonds, to say
the least! Communication is most
efficacious when there is silence, attention, love and a desire for mutual
self-giving! Impossible if the electronic world has the upper hand!
Next on the list of activities for “Sunday as
family day” is setting aside time to enjoy each other’s presence by playing
together! All too often today parents try to win the affection of their
children--- the easy way out, but truly a counterfeit—by buying “things” for
their children! Nothing wrong with buying and giving gifts. However, this
should never replace the warm, affectionate human contact that all children ---
as well as teens—most desperately need! Looking in retrospect some of the most
valuable and precious moments in my life were the least expensive! Human
contact between parent and child can never be replaced by buying the child an
electronic game! How wonderful memories
of childhood days! Piggy-back
rides, the human airplane (Dad holding
both arms and a brisk swing like a
merry-go round) wrestling in the dirt, a quick wheel-barrow ride through the
fresh cut grass, an intense arm-wrestle--- all of these were some of the most
joyful and memorable moments of my childhood and building blocks for a truly well-rounded
human formation! Why not on Sunday pack
a pic-nick lunch and off to the park! Do not forget to bring the
sports-gear! What? Yes, the sports gear! A couple of good Frisbees, the volleyball,
softball and the bat, a soccer or football and whatever sports-gear that can
facilitate your play, joy, and family union!
Sunday is a day of joy! Any
spiritual writer will warn you--- especially Saint Francis de Sales—that after
sin our worse enemy is sadness! Often our sins are preceded by a state of desolation
and sadness is part of desolation! (St.
Ignatius, Rules for discernment). Family games, family sports, family
activities, family engagement, and all amounts to family fun. Parents decide
upon it right now or else it will be too late!
MARY; THE MOTHER OF GOD, MOTHER OF
THE CHURCH, OUR MOTHER!
One last ingredient to bond families
in the joy of the Lord: pray the family Rosary. Remember the words of Father
Patrick Peyton: “The family that prays together
stays together.” Time, place, good
will and go for it! Let Dad start the Rosary and then let every member lead a
decade—if they are old enough. Have a
family sanctuary with Jesus and Mary, the Basket of Rosaries ready, candles
lighted and pray. In fifteen minutes the Rosary is completed and the family
blessed by Mary’s loving and maternal gazes from heaven! My friends let us “Rejoice in the Lord with
our families!” First Mass and Communion with the Lord then family time, fun and
rejoicing in the Lord!