This is Part 3 of a three-part reflection series on the importance and value of Sunday as the Lord’s Day and Sunday worship as the Church continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Part 2 was published last Sunday, and Part 1 was published the week before.
This series is being featured on both BLACKCATHOLIC and Laudare.
Last week in Part 2 I talk about all the good things Sunday as the Lord’s Day gives us both as Christians and as human beings. The Lord’s Day, both the beginning and culmination of each week from which all other days and their significance and value should flow from, gives us access to everything we are searching for in this life because what we all are searching for can only be truly found in their full in the Lord of the Lord’s Day, who is Goodness, Fulfillment, and Meaning itself. It was about how Sunday gives us our identify, belonging, meaning, happiness, peace, and love, purpose, and our ultimate destiny.
This week in Part 3 to end the three-week reflection series on Sunday I provide both a way of thinking and ways that we an always use to keep the Lord’s Day, Sunday, holy no matter what happens come germ or high water. I also talk about the importance of keeping the glory of Sunday both throughout the rest of Lord’s Day and throughout the rest of the week so we do not limit God’s glory to shine to just merely one hour on Sunday or week when we are at Sunday liturgy. God’s glory is meant to shine in and through us much more gloriously than that.
Now here’s Part 3.
So what if another pandemic happens? What can we do if our churches are ever shut down and we lose ready access to the Mass for a similar reason or another? Are there still any of us that still cannot return due to lingering pandemic restrictions or worry for our health or that of others? Concerning less far-reaching situations, there at least will always be the case of the individual illness during more ordinary times, and we will always have our homebound brothers and sisters.
For these and other circumstances, if there’s any thing we need to keep steadfastly in our minds, one of them is the need to know how to still properly keep the Lord’s Day even if we lack access to Mass. While the bishops may have been able to dispense us from the obligation to attend Mass as the normative way to keep the Lord’s Day holy, they could never dispense us from the divine mandate itself to keep it holy.
And during the times we are able to go to Sunday Mass like normal there is part of the question of keeping the Lord’s Day holy that still touches us. We already know that we must not restrict the extent of our relationship with God or His Church to the confines of merely one hour a week at Mass on Sundays (or two hours for weeks with an occasional holy day of obligation). If the glory of the Lord’s Day must flow throughout the rest of the week, how much more should that same glory flow throughout the rest of Sunday itself.
The ability to do any of the above resides in having proper knowledge, and it is essential in our spiritual lives, for “my people perish for lack of knowledge.” So what do we do and how do we do it?
First, we must drill within our minds the knowledge of what we are about as men and women of God in Christ: living the first and second greatest commandments in the risen Lord, and the Lord’s Day is the prime time for us to put this into action.
Second, we must know our statuses as priests, prophets, and kings in the same three-fold ministry of the risen Jesus and live them out. On Sundays we can realize this in practical ways even if we cannot be physically present at Mass.
With virtual Masses we can still offer up prayerful spiritual sacrifices of praise as partakers of the universal baptismal priesthood and receive efficaciously spiritual communions. We can also live the Church’s liturgy in the other ways the laity have access to apart from the Mass such as the Liturgy of the Hours and the practice of saying “offices of the Mass,” also called “Missa Siccas” (Dry Masses), like the Carthusian Office of the Mass, which lay people can pray. In this practice we are also exercising our baptismal priesthood through the offering up of spiritual sacrifices of praise as priestly people.
Additionally, on Sundays we should make quality time with both our families in blood and families in faith, and for both we can exercise our role as prophets in our teaching and handing on the truths of faith for our time and place. And then we can be kings by governing our time, families, parish groups, and other responsibilities wisely and using our leadership roles in them for service of others even from afar. In this we can make Sunday a day for our fellow man in service by serving family and parish from home through charitable works even if we are separated. All we have to do is ask what needs to be done for them and have a creative mind to figure out the ways to meet their needs. In this ask God for the piercing light of the Holy Spirit for clarity in what needs to be done. And God is a creative God! Ask for graces flowing out from His creative will for insightfulness in figuring out who needs help and how you might be able to lend it.
Through these and other means we can be holy priests in Christ by offering spiritual sacrifices and good works for ourselves and for souls, true prophets in Him by teaching through our example, and worthy kings in Him by looking after the gifts given to us by God in the form of people, abilities, and material goods (in that order!). And Sunday presents the perfect opportunity for fulfilling these tasks and through their fulfillment keep Sunday holy as the Lord’s Day even if we were to suffer the inability of attending Mass.
Thirdly, we can keep Sunday holy by making it a real day of reflection by spending it in contemplation of the paschal mystery of Christ by reading Sacred Scripture, reading and listening to spiritual materials, watching Christian movies and shows, and praying with family aloud and alone in silence. And not to mention the glory of the Lord’s Day can shine throughout the entirety of Sunday, if we give ourselves over to these and other holy activities.
Ultimately, all of this adds up to keeping the Lord’s Day holy by keeping it a day of praise and worship, a day of communion and reflection, a day of outpouring ourselves through our worship of God, a day of communion with each other, and a day of reflection upon the sacred mysteries. In our own small way these actions can have us meet God’s own overabundant outpouring of Himself (biblical word: kenosis) in Christ, especially on the Lord’s Day. Sunday is the day that we truly live the “is” of our being, the desires of our souls, and the hope of hearts. By enjoying the Lord’s Day and enjoying the Lord of that day we fulfill mankind’s very essence, and thus we truly “live and move and have our being.”
Keep Sunday. Keep the Lord. Keep Life itself.