“Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.” (Exodus 20:8)
In order to demonstrate just how far we have strayed from our Catholic heritage in terms of Sunday observance, Bishop Sanborn explains what a typical Sunday in the life of an ordinary French family in the 1920s was like, as related to him by an elderly priest who had grown up in that era. The religious duty of hearing Mass constituted merely a fraction of the usual Sunday observance just a hundred years ago. The entire Sabbath day would revolve around God and His Holy Church. Early morning Low Mass with the reception of Holy Communion, solemn High Mass, plus the afternoon and evening devotions in the parochial church (Vespers with Benediction and Compline) were all an integral part of customary Sunday observance at that time. Family life was made special on that day by a festive meal, Sunday dress, and spiritual reading in the family circle.
So singular was the Sabbath day for our Catholic ancestry that the faithful would not only devote the entire day to the service of God but also prepare themselves for that very day. Abstinence from meat on Saturday was still in force as late as the 1890s, albeit diocesan bishops could dispense their flock on account of a papal indult. All of this preparation highlighted the unique importance of Sunday, as the Lord’s day, a day unlike any other day of the week, so as to remind man what his chief preoccupation in this present life should be, namely gaining merit unto salvation.
Sadly, in these horrible times of mass apostasy the attitude of too many Catholics has been flawed by lukewarmness and wordliness. To do the absolute bare minimum, with regards to the worship of God, and hastily return to the world for its pleasures and enjoyments is no way to keep the Sabbath day truly holy.
The Catholic observance of Sunday has been not only hampered but utterly destroyed by the so-called reforms ushered in by Vatican II, viz. the novelty of fulfilling the Sunday obligation by going to Mass on Saturday evening. Bishop Sanborn explains how such a liturgical concession could actually be lawful in times of great necessity. His Lordship also gives the reasons why it was completely out of place when first implemented in the 1960s, and demonstrates the wickedness of the Modernist reformers in their scheme to shatter the true sense of celebrating Sunday in the minds of Catholics.
Bishop Sanborn argues that nowadays there are two chief obstacles to the proper celebration of Sunday, namely public commerce and major sporting events. Both of them have already been sanctioned by the so-called modern culture as ‘proper’ Sunday recreation. Unfortunately, many traditional Catholics have fallen prey to these sinful distractions. Indeed, the advent of the shopping mall and professional sports, with both the supermarket and the sports stadium/TV assuming the roles of secular temples, pose a grave danger to Catholics today.
His Lordship points out that, although organised sports events are not illicit in themselves, they should nonetheless be shunned by Catholics inasmuch as they are major distractions from the religious observance of Sunday. Missing Mass in order to make it to the racing track or a football game is a mortal sin. Naturally, personal or family recreation (like playing basketball with your children in the backyard) does not fall into that category.
The general prohibition of public commerce on Sunday that was in force decades ago (and is still upheld in some European countries, though not for religious reasons) necessarily meant that people needed to prepare for Sunday, and make all necessary provisions with regards to shopping beforehand. Of course, the Church law admits of reasonable exceptions. Goods that may be bought lawfully on Sunday include perishable items, such as flowers, and those things that would be generally bought on a daily basis (bread, milk).
“Sunday should be very strictly observed. It is a commandment of God. It is part of our adoration of God. People don’t take it seriously. They very often go to the [shopping] mall, they go shopping – it’s something to do on Sunday. It’s a form of entertainment. It’s practical because in many cases the women are working; there’s a two-income home, and they can’t do it any other time.”
How is that possible? After all, it is culture that plays a crucial role in shaping our modes of thinking and our behaviour, and since we are living in a world steeped in ubiquitous consumerism and hedonism, we are bound to be influenced by that unless we make the effort to purge our lives of such sinful attitudes.
Traditional Catholics who strive to observe Sunday might ask what public activities are legitimate on the Sabbath day and holy days of obligation. Bishop Sanborn explains that, generally speaking, all that pertains to accommodating travelers (such as restaurants and hotels) and serving the public (hospitals, police) operates licitly on Sunday.
“There’s a lot of people who have to go to work on Sunday just to keep life in order. It’s much different from what it was in the 18th century. The Church is not blind to that, and adapts to those things.”
Granted, most of traditional Catholics today have been deprived of the many opportunities to worship God in His holy sanctuaries due to the Modernist takeover. True Masses are few and far between, and regular parish life has become a rare privilege. How should one observe the Sabbath day in such circumstances? Here’s the advice given by His Lordship:
“I’m pointing out these things to shake up our listeners, to realise what we have lost. Our culture dictates to us a complete repudiation of the sanctification of Sunday. At least we should come back to what is required by law.”
In essence, assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (if we have a Mass to attend), refraining from servile work and public commerce, as well as keeping “the spirit of Sunday” ought to constitute our minimum observance of the Sabbath day.
“The idea is to make it a special day, a special religious day. That should be the culture of the family – to repudiate the modern culture that makes Sunday just another day: a day for business, a day for distracting recreations. Children are impressed by that.”
The malice of the profanation of Sundays and holy days has been lamented by Heaven itself, in not-so-distant past, through the apparition of Our Lady in La Salette, France in 1846, and the revelations Our Lord made to a pious Carmelite nun, Sr. Mary of St. Peter, just two years after Our Blessed Lady had shown her beautiful face bathed in tears for the sins of mankind at La Salette. Considering that these heavenly warnings came in a time when the Catholic Church was still thriving, and basic morality was still upheld in society, we cannot but tremble at the way the Third Commandment is being trampled upon today. We have been warned; let us take heed of the admonitions of Heaven and sanctify the Sabbath Day in our families.
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