Spotlight on the Family 5: Sunday, the Pause That Refreshes

Needlework (PS for last week’s post: This Sunday’s Plain Dealer ran a story about a man who raised funds for a hospital in his native Congo. His storage trailer with $100,000 worth of supplies burned, destroying everything but rosaries. Wonder if the publisher knew October is the month of the Holy Rosary.)

Two of my ninth graders made a needlepoint illustration of creation. Note the second last square! After creating everything, God rested on the seventh day. For our physical, spiritual, and mental health, we need to rest too. It’s time to reclaim Sunday as a special day of the week, a day of rest and tranquility. Some of us, overwhelmed by the demands of life and work, are in sore need of “a sanctuary in time,” just to enjoy being alive. For good reason the third commandment, “Keep holy the Lord’s Day,” has the corollary: relax and have fun.

We observe Sunday by celebrating the Eucharist—ideally as a family. But we also keep it holy by resting: refraining from unnecessary work, taking care of errands on other days, performing acts of mercy, and making Sunday a day of play and joy. Rabbi Abraham Heschel calls the Sabbath “a day for the sake of life.” It’s a chance to breathe and be renewed. Sunday is also a chance for families to interact, communicate, and become more bonded.

Sunday Activities

Here are a few ideas to help you plan activities and establish tracreationditions and rituals for your Sundays:

For Yourselves

  • Participate in a sports activity or go to a game together.
  • Go for a ride in the country and enjoy creation.
  • Play a board game or a card game.
  • Have a picnic indoors or outdoors.
  • Hold a family meeting, a family night, or a family prayer service.
  • Talk to one another, perhaps about the homily.
  • Enjoy a cultural activity: a play, a concert, an art show.
  • Ride bicycles or go rollerskating.
  • Make cookies or a meal together.
  • Throw a party, even if it’s an unbirthday party.
  • Go to a park or a beach.
  • After a Sunday morning Mass, have brunch at a restaurant.

Outreach to Others

  • Visit friends and relatives or invite them to your house.
  • Spend time with an elderly person who might be lonely.
  • Invite someone for a meal.
  • Participate in an activity to help the needy.
  • Visit a person who is sick or homebound.
  • Do something kind for a neighbor.

Special Sunday Traditions

DSCN0904Dress up for Sunday Eucharist. Designate a tablecloth, table mats, napkins, and a set of dishes to be used only on Sunday. Set a bouquet of flowers or arrangement of autumn leaves on the table. Reserve certain toys or games for Sundays. Enjoy a meal full of family favorites and light a candle or two, maybe one made by the family.

A Bit of History

The word “sabbath” means “rest.” The Jewish people made Saturday their Lord’s Day. Because Jesus rose on Sunday morning, instituting “the new creation” and because the Holy Spirit came down to the Church on Pentecost Sunday, Christians moved the sabbath observance to Sunday.

What did your family do to make Sunday special as you were growing up? What do you do now?


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