Growing up in a family of five children meant that our weekends were always busy, and the older everyone became, the busier we all were. Between 4-H activities, sports (games and practices), sleepovers, homework, and yardwork, Sunday easily became just another day to hold the activities that needed to happen. When I was in the fourth grade, my basketball coach at our Catholic school moved our practice to 9 am on Sunday morning. This meant that I had to go to the first morning Mass with just my dad because I had younger siblings who were not up that early. With my practice bag under the pew, I was ready to rush out as soon as the final blessing was given so that I could make it to practice on time. My focus was definitely not on God on Sundays. What was important to me was that I make it to practice on time. My parents fortunately saw this as an unhealthy pattern, and we switched schools the next year.
Sunday observance was commanded by our Lord—the fourth of the ten commandments. We are first to love God, love our neighbor, respect our parents, and then to keep Sundays holy. Knowing our hearts well, God knew that we would need a firm directive to spend quality time with him and to take a break from our busy lives. We would not just do that on our own initiative. We have been given a whole day in which we are supposed to “rest.” In our society, this important commandment has been put on the back burner, and I also think that it is often misunderstood. When people hear “rest” on Sunday, many think that they are not supposed to do any type of work as was practiced by the Jewish people in the Bible. However, one of my Bible study leaders in college gave us an important phrase that sums up how to live out this commandment. It has stuck with me through the varying seasons of my life: “Plan your Sunday around God, not God around your Sunday.”
Churches offer multiple Masses to accommodate our busy schedules. Often, we look at everything to be done and figure out which Mass fits in best with the sports schedule and other family activities for that day. Sometimes this even means splitting up the family for Mass to make sure everyone gets where they need to go later. We are fitting time for God into our busy day rather than following my Bible study leader’s challenge. She had urged us to pick a time on Sunday that we attend Mass and then plan the rest of our activities around that time. Obviously, this is not always possible since unforeseen issues such as illness and travel occur, but I think that this mindset remains important. God should be at the forefront on Sunday, and everything else should fall into place behind that. We could even plan a time to say a decade of the Rosary together or to discuss the day’s Gospel. Our “rest” should be time spent in the presence of the Lord. Once we can do that on a Sunday, it can become bring form to the rest of our lives. Together, let’s rethink our Sunday patterns as we prepare our family for holy time in this year to come!