The results of the struggle between belief and unbelief will depend to a great extent on the use that each of the opposing fronts will make of Sunday. –Pope Pius XII
Although this sobering quote is from the first half of the 20th Century, and refers to the turmoil going on then in Europe and Russia, it still has profound implications for your family and for the whole world. Rarely does anyone think or talk in this way in our times, but it remains true: if we don’t get the observation and the celebration of Sundays right, we are severely handicapping our spiritual lives. We must celebrate Sundays well–more than by just attending Holy Mass in the morning and refraining from work–and furthermore we must prepare for them by observing Fridays, as Christians always have, as days of penance commemorating Our Savior’s Sacrifice.
Getting into the experience of actually celebrating Sundays together as joyful, special days is the best way to understand what the Holy Father was cautioning the faithful about three generations ago. Once you feel that your family has established a solid pattern of daily prayer, you will be ready to explore together the importance of the weekly cycle of fasting and feasting, and the observance of the Friday fast (technically abstinence, nowadays) in preparation for the Sunday feast.
Making Fridays Holy
- Think of Friday as a “mini-Lent” each week.
- Pray together around the Crucifix, contemplating the total sacrifice of Himself that Our Lord gave on the cross; meditate on His Sacred Wounds that were borne out of His great love for each of us.
- Offer up your Friday penance(s) for the Catholic Church in the U.S, as the bishops have asked us to do. At the very minimum, U.S. Catholics are required either to give up eating meat on Fridays OR they must make an alternative sacrifice by giving up some other food that day.
- Do a special Friday devotion such as the Stations of the Cross, pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, or read one of the Gospel accounts of the Passion
(Sunday Starts on Saturday!)
On Saturday, prepare:
- for Holy Mass–
- by going to Confession: it is very good preparation for Mass to go to Confession before receiving the Blessed Sacrament, even if one is still in the State of Grace.
- by going over the readings the night before as a family and talking about them. together to make each person more ready for hearing them tomorrow as part of the liturgy.
- by praying for graces to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist worthily.
2. for the family meal (see below)–
- Do a final clean-up of your home on Saturday afternoon.
- Get foods you will need/get them ready for cooking.
- Invite extended family to join the Sunday celebration!
Making Sundays Holy
- Remember that Sundays are consecrated to the Trinity, because 1) God the Father created the earth on the first day of the week, 2) God the Son rose from the dead on Sunday morning, and 3) the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and established the Church on a Sunday. (It has always been believed that God gives us special graces for contemplation on Sundays–and I think this is part of the reason why.)
- Celebrate Sunday as “a little Easter,” because all Sundays mirror Resurrection Day.
- Take care to do works of mercy on this day, above all others, such as visiting the sick and lonely.
- Enjoy family time–since Sundays are a foretaste of Heaven, celebrating with the family foreshadows the family of God rejoicing together for all eternity.
- Make special Sunday foods a part of your family tradition–reserve some of your best cooking and recipes to give Sunday dinners something extra, showing that these days are set apart in your family as feasts.
When we Christians get Sundays right, with the help of God we will change ourselves and then we will change the culture. Start making your plans now for feasting this Sunday!