Updated: Sep 25, 2019
If you've been keeping up with us on the blog or on Twitter, you'll know a major theme for us these past few months have been rethinking how we do Sundays around here. Recently, I talked about a trick we learned to help us honor the Lord's Day. I've noticed a lot more people chatting online wondering about some practical things to do to sanctify Sunday, so I thought I'd share some tips we've learned through this process here.
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First, it's important to know what the Church teaches about Sunday. I highly recommend the Catechism Explained by Spirago—I personally think every Catholic should have a copy! He does a wonderful job of explaining exactly what is expected of Catholics. Here's where you can find it on Amazon (99 cents on Kindle!). It's also on the free iPieta mobile app—another wonderful resource! If you can't get to the whole chapter, check out some quotes I posted on Twitter here (click on the image below to see the thread!):
And now, onto the tips!
Believe it or not, sanctifying Sunday has to start Saturday. It takes preparation and planning!
1. Have the house sparkling clean. There is nothing more restful than a relaxing in a clean house! Since we have to avoid servile labor on Sunday, that means getting everything cleaned on Saturday. If you have time, read the excerpt in this post from Maria von Trapp's book, where she talks about the tradition of cleaning in preparation for Sunday. If that idea sounds overwhelming, check out my weekly housekeeping schedule here!
2. Lay out the Sunday outfits the night before. This takes most of the stress out of what can be a hectic Sunday morning. It also ensures everyone has on their Sunday best—and yes, we should be wearing our Sunday best! From Spirago: "The very fact we wear our best apparel on that day seres to remind us of the celestial happiness that we hope will one day be our portion."
3. Get to bed early, and consider fasting from alcohol the night before. We used to love our Saturday night glass of Bourbon, but have since moved it to Sunday night. It has made such a difference! The fasting is a good way to prepare for Mass in the morning, and it ensures we sleep soundly and wake up feeling refreshed.
4. Plan a nice meal. Maybe you normally have five-course meals during the week. Maybe you eat off of paper plates. Whatever the case, try and make Sunday's meal more special than weekday meals: maybe it's using placemats, adding a side, adding something delicious to the meal (homemade gravy, homemade butter, etc.) that you would have normally skipped, or making a home-cooked meal if you typically grab fast food during the week.
5. Use a special Sunday china. It doesn't have to be nice or fancy, but having something you reserve just for this day is a wordless lesson for how special it is. For example, we use a porcelain dinner set passed down from grandparents. It's actually not even as expensive as the dishes we use during the week, but the fact that is has been part of the family makes it a special part of a special day.
6. Take naps. From Spirago, "Just as one is obliged to sleep for six or seven hours after the work of the day is done, in order to recruit one's bodily powers, so one needs a longer period of rest after six days of labor." Don't forget to take the time to recuperate from the last week and prepare for the week ahead.
7. Let your husband spend time with your kids. Pater works hard and has lots of jobs that require him around our farm. While of course he spends family time during the week, there is nothing quite as special as that entire Sunday afternoon devoted to catching up on much-needed family time. As a mother, it can be tempting to be watching and facilitating play like it's any other day, but I have to remember that this is his time, and to get out of the way.
8. Read an excerpt from the catechism at the dinner table. Just take five minutes before everyone gets up from the table and read a bit. You could do this with the readings from the day or another spiritual book. This is an easy way to build up the habit of family religious instruction, and it's a fitting activity for this day of prayer. You could get through the catechism in about three years by just doing a few minutes on Sundays, so you could keep cycling through so your children will understand more as they get older.
9. Invite a family over for your big meal. I talked about this at length here, so I won't say anything else here, but you can really use this practice to keep your Sundays accountable—especially about the clean house and nice meal.
10. Don't rush to change into sweatpants after Mass. Stay in your Sunday best as long as you can stand it. It adds to the specialness of the dinner. For me, personally, it serves as a reminder that the day of rest isn't about a day of indulging. However, there is no way my (very very young) daughter's smocked dress is staying on her a minute longer than it has to!
10. Pray your family rosary. You should be doing this daily, but especially do not neglect it on Sundays! Pray it as a family, and it is a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions. Read about our family rosary tip here.
I'll end with this quote from Spirago:
By sanctifying Sunday, we lay up for ourselves treasures which will last forever.
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