Updated: Sep 5, 2019
Recently, we have been convicted that we need to do a better job as a family of making the Lord's Day really and truly Holy. And we have found that this is hard, requires sacrifice, and, most of all takes planning. We needed help changing our mindset around the day, and implementing the right changes.
What Does It Mean to Honor the Sabbath?
First, background: we honor the Sabbath because it is one of the Ten Commandments. Well, what does that look like? First of all, it means attending Mass and refraining from unnecessary work and commerce. Neglecting these are mortal sins, and Fr. Nix does a great job explaining the details of that here.
However, I'd like to posit that it means a little more than simply going to Mass and avoiding work. If you haven't thought much about it, I encourage you to read this excerpt from Fish Eaters, a chapter called "The Land Without a Sunday" from Maria von Trapp's book, Around the Year with the Trapp Family.
The Four-Week Bootcamp
So, here is what we did to radically change how we view and act on Sundays. We invited people over to our house every Sunday for four consecutive weeks. Some of you seasoned hostesses out there are probably scoffing at me now about how this is not a big deal, and you couldn't be blamed for that. I just honestly hate hosting people! I'm not particularly extroverted, I don't have a fancy house, and I'm not this amazing chef. But these are hardly excuses!
So, we did the unthinkable and booked guests for a meal for each Sunday for four consecutive weeks. And you know what? It had some pretty amazing results!
1. It taught me to plan—as far back as the middle of the week!
Turns out, it takes a lot of planning to honor the Lord's Day, and the required planning is tripled if you're hosting people. Avoiding commerce on Sunday means no last-minute trips to the store on the way home from Mass! So I had to plan out every detail of the meal at the beginning of the week so that we'd get everything we needed during our regular weekly grocery runs (remember, we live pretty far out, so we try not to let ourselves take multiple trips!).
2. It forced me to have the house clean and ready for visitors before I went to bed Saturday.
This also took a lot of planning. Saturday meant some deep cleaning, which meant I had to have my usual Saturday chores done on Thursday or Friday. Saturday also meant having dishes washed and ready, placemats ironed (though I definitely kept forgetting this one), laundry put away, etc. Who knew it would be so much work to not work on a certain day?
3. It made Saturday a bit crazy (see #2).
Whereas my previous Saturdays were all around restful, this really made them crazy. I couldn't go to bed until everything was done, and I was very tired. It made the rest of Sunday all the more sweet.
4. It made Saturday night somber.
This was one thing I didn't see coming. When you are preparing to honor the Lord's Day (and have guests over!), you can't really afford to stay up late on Saturday. Saturday used to be Pater's and my night to drink some bourbon and watch a movie. No more! We went to bed early so we could be well rested for an early Sunday Mass. No longer were we rushing around Sunday morning to make it to Mass on time. It actually helped me to pray much better at Mass, having prepared for it physically with labor (cleaning for guests the day before turned out to be really symbolic) and spiritually with recollecting the night before.
5. It reinforced the idea of a "Sunday best" outfit.
Our family is bad about our affection for comfy clothes. We love them! We love relaxing in oversized t-shirts and sweatpants a little too much. We've really tried to work on this. So, having visitors over in the afternoon meant I stayed in my nice Church clothes all day. It really helped to sanctify the day without it turning to laziness. We were still able to relax in our clothes, but it reminded us the day was about worship first and foremost.
6. It helped us to rest appropriately on Sunday—which included works of charity like cooking for people.
Yes, hosting people is a lot of work. However, it's a work of charity, and Sundays are a great day to focus on works of charity. It really helped us understand that the day is about worship, which certainly includes rest from servile labor, but it also includes loving God in our neighbor. And don't worry, there was plenty of actual resting! It's amazing what getting all of your chores done and sitting down on a clean couch in a clean living room with no piles of things that need doing does for your ability to rest!
7. It made Sunday joyful!
We had so much fun hosting people! We got to visit with friends, make new ones, laugh, enjoy wine, and let babies play. Truly, there are few better ways to spend Sunday! We definitely won't be inviting someone over every Sunday, but we hope to do it at least once a month. Most of all, we hope to continue the habits we learned during those four weeks, and apply them to every Sunday. Even if we aren't receiving guests into our home, we are receiving Our Lord at Mass, and nothing is more important than that.
Speaking of Sundays, have you checked out our Indulgences for Every Day of the Week coloring packet over at our shop? Teach your children indulgenced prayers the fun way—with coloring!
What tips do you use to help your family honor the Lord's Day? What does that look like in your home? Reply in the comments! And if you haven't, check out more tips for your spiritual life in my post 9 Tips to Help a Tired, Frazzled, Forgetful Mom's Spiritual Life.