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.”

     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!

      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!   


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!