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#388252 - 11/19/12 04:33 AM Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation
Alice Offline
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Registered: 01/12/03
Posts: 10837
Loc: USA
The Importance of Sunday

By Metropolitan Methodios of Boston

Sadly, Sunday has lost its significance in our society, becoming less of a day of worship of almighty God and more like any ordinary work day. This especially affects our young people who are obligated to attend sports events on Sunday mornings rather than attend the Divine Liturgy. At my request, this sad reality and its ramifications were discussed at the recent meeting of the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation. After lengthy discussion, the following joint statement was issued. I ask you to read it carefully and approach civic, business and school authorities in your community to schedule sports events after 12 noon so that our young people may worship together with their families on Sunday mornings.

The Importance of Sunday

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation

Saint Paul’s College, Washington, DC
October 27, 2012

Recovering the theological significance of Sunday is fundamental to rebalancing our lives. As Orthodox and Catholics, we share a theological view of Sunday and so our purpose in this statement is four-fold: to offer a caring response to what is not just a human, but also a theological question; to add a little more volume to the growing chorus of Christian voices trying to be heard in the din of our non-stop worklife; to offer brief reflections in hopes of drawing attention to the fuller expositions elsewhere; and to reinforce the ecumenical consensus by speaking as Orthodox and Catholics with one voice.

For Christians, Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is a special day consecrated to the service and worship of God. It is a unique Christian festival. It is “the day the Lord has made” (Ps. 117 (118):24). Its nature is holy and joyful. Sunday is the day on which we believe God acted decisively to liberate the world from the tyranny of sin, death, and corruption through the Holy Resurrection of Jesus.

The primacy of Sunday is affirmed by the liturgical practice of the early church. St. Justin the Martyr writing around 150 AD notes that “it is on Sunday that we assemble because Sunday is the first day, the day on which God transformed darkness and matter and created the world and the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead (First Apology, 67).” Sunday has always had a privileged position in the life of the church as a day of worship and celebration. On Sunday the Church assembles to realize her eschatological fullness in the Eucharist by which the Kingdom and the endless Day of the Lord are revealed in time. It is the perpetual first day of the new creation, a day of rejoicing. It is a day for community, feasting and family gatherings.

As we look at our fellow Christians and our society, we observe that everyone is short of time and stressed. One reason is that many of us have forgotten the meaning of Sunday, and with it the practices that regularly renewed our relationships and lives. More and more Christian leaders see the effects of a 24/7 worklife and ask “Where is the time of rest?” As members of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, gathered October 25-27, 2012, we add our combined voice to their call.

Our purpose here is not to replace or replicate their message; it is to underscore and point to it. Anyone who looks at the 1998 Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (The Lord’s Day) of Pope John Paul II and its cascade of patristic quotations will see there is already a feast of food for thought on the meaning of Sunday. Anyone who reads the recent book Sunday, Sabbath, and the Weekend (2010, Edward O’Flaherty, ed.) will see there is also strong ecumenical consensus on the need to recover the meaning of Sunday-- not just for our souls, but for our bodies, our hearts, and our minds as well.

Sadly Sunday has become less of a day of worship and family and more like an ordinary work day. Shopping, sports, and work squeeze out the chance for a day of worship or rest in the Christian sense. By abandoning Sunday worship we lose out on the regenerative powers that flow out of the liturgical assembly. And when Sunday becomes detached from its theological significance, it becomes just part of a weekend and people can lose the chance to see transcendent meaning for themselves and their lives (The Lord’s Day, 4).

Sunday is more than just the first day of the week. In our faith we see how it is the ultimate day of new beginnings: “It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ's victory over sin and death, the fulfillment in him of the first creation and the dawn of "the new creation" (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). It is the day which recalls in grateful adoration the world's first day and looks forward in active hope to "the last day", when Christ will come in glory (cf. Acts 1:11; 1 Th 4:13-17) and all things will be made new (cf. Rev 21:5. The Lord’s Day, 1).”

Sunday even unlocks the mystery of time itself, for “…in commemorating the day of Christ's Resurrection not just once a year but every Sunday, the Church seeks to indicate to every generation the true fulcrum of history, to which the mystery of the world's origin and its final destiny leads (The Lord’s Day, 2).” The Lord’s Day is the day after the last day of the week and so it symbolizes eternity as well: what St. Augustine calls “a peace with no evening (Confessions 13:50).” St. Basil the Great in his Treatise on the Holy Spirit writes, “Sunday seems to be an image of the age to come… This day foreshadows the state which is to follow the present age: a day without sunset, nightfall or successor, an age which does not grow old or come to an end (On the Holy Spirit 26:77).”

The apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II calls it a day of joy, rest, and solidarity. Joy there is, because the disciples are always glad to see the Master. God scripturally established a day of rest as a gift to us, and rest there must be for every human person. Rest is built into our nature and also withdraws us “…from the sometimes excessively demanding cycle of earthly tasks in order to renew [our] awareness that everything is the work of God. There is a risk that the prodigious power over creation which God gives to man can lead him to forget that God is the Creator upon whom everything depends. It is all the more urgent to recognize this dependence in our own time, when science and technology have so incredibly increased the power which man exercises through his work. Finally, it should not be forgotten that even in our own day work is very oppressive for many people, either because of miserable working conditions and long hours — especially in the poorer regions of the world — or because of the persistence in economically more developed societies of too many cases of injustice and exploitation of man by man (The Lord’s Day, 65,66).”

As members of the Consultation, we strongly urge both clergy and laity to work cooperatively within their communities to stress the importance of Sunday for worship and family. Foremost we call for all to render thanks to God and render love towards one another – and be willing to reserve time to do both -- and avail ourselves of the riches of the Lord’s Day. Appropriate authorities can be approached to schedule sports activities after 12 noon in order to give young athletes and their family the opportunity to worship on Sunday morning. We call for our children to live in a timescape that respects the God-given rhythm of the week.

“Yes, let us open our time to Christ, that he may cast light upon it and give it direction. He is the One who knows the secret of time and the secret of eternity, and he gives us "his day" as an ever new gift of his love. The rediscovery of this day is a grace which we must implore, not only so that we may live the demands of faith to the full, but also so that we may respond concretely to the deepest human yearnings. Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human (The Lord’s Day, 7).”

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/

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#388270 - 11/19/12 09:02 PM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: Alice]
8IronBob Offline
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Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 847
Loc: Parma, Ohio, USA
Also sad that others don't see Christmas (Nativity) and Easter (Pascha) the same way anymore, either, and we usually do see a larger congregation most years until recently.

We do, you're right, we do need to reeducate the youth in terms of what the Third Commandment calls for, and the First Commandment, because if they're going the way of Atheism, then they are certainly leaning on worshiping secular government and civil society, rather than to the Divine Lord, which, too, is unacceptable in the Church's view on things.

I was religiously educated in both Rites side-by-side, and I am fully aware of the importance of worshiping either Divine Liturgy or even a Roman Mass, if need be, depending on which Rite one wishes to follow more (for me, it's natively Roman Rite, though leaning towards becoming Byzantine, since I worship there part-time (meaning at least two Divine Liturgies a month)). So you're right, we do need a lot more campaigning and more religious education in the society of today. Let's hope we get the youth to learn better.

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#388288 - 11/20/12 03:46 AM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: Alice]
Jaya Offline
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Registered: 10/19/09
Posts: 671
Loc: Ohio
Thanks for posting this. Hopefully, it will receive some attention and action.

My previous parish priest always encouraged families to tell coaches that their kids could not participate in Sunday morning sports events because they would be in church on Sunday mornings, and also to turn down any job that required one to work on a Sunday, trusting in the Lord to provide a more appropriate job.

On a similar note, while at the dollar store today, I was shocked to learn from one of the employees that they are now open on Thanksgiving, because the manager feels they have to compete with Walmart, which apparently is also open that day. The woman told me she refuses to work on such holidays, and added, "They don't respect families needing that time together anymore." I wouldn't be surprised if they stay open on Christmas and Easter now as well. It is so sad, and so different from when I was growing up. Back then, virtually all the stores were closed on Sundays and holidays. I remember, even as a child, being aware of how that added to the specialness of the holidays, and the sacredness of the holy days. Such changes are truly a loss for all of us, and for society as a whole.

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#388309 - 11/20/12 08:55 PM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: Alice]
8IronBob Offline
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Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 847
Loc: Parma, Ohio, USA
Agreed 100% with you, Jaya. This is why secularity needs to be stopped, and given equal treatment with us. It should be a blend of 50/50 between government and church. However, it seems like now government and church is about 70/30 in favor of having this secularity as it stands. That's why in the economy we are in, most kids are being taught in vouchered or public schools, and not in Catholic nor Religious schools anymore, because they can't afford the tuition of most Catholic schools, and they pay the price in terms of having secular morals taught to these kids. *Sigh* Seems like these teachings are going by the wayside because of this. Something's gotta be big time changed around here, and soon.

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#388311 - 11/21/12 12:00 AM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: Alice]
Carson Daniel Offline
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Registered: 11/07/01
Posts: 5784
Loc: Walled Lake, Mi
Some Eastern Catholic Churches have Divine Liturgy on Saturday. I don't understand it and I will never go. It is a time for Vespers. Sunday is the day for Divine Liturgy.

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#388313 - 11/21/12 01:02 AM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: Carson Daniel]
Jaya Offline
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Registered: 10/19/09
Posts: 671
Loc: Ohio
Originally Posted By: Carson Daniel
Some Eastern Catholic Churches have Divine Liturgy on Saturday. I don't understand it and I will never go. It is a time for Vespers. Sunday is the day for Divine Liturgy.

I don't understand this either, and feel exactly as you do.

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#388316 - 11/21/12 01:37 AM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: Carson Daniel]
Fr. Deacon Lance Offline
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Registered: 08/29/98
Posts: 4158
Loc: Washington, PA
Originally Posted By: Carson Daniel
Some Eastern Catholic Churches have Divine Liturgy on Saturday. I don't understand it and I will never go. It is a time for Vespers. Sunday is the day for Divine Liturgy.


Saturday has always been a day for Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine tradition as well. Of course moving it from Sat morning to Sat evening (which is liturgically Sunday) is a post Vatican II innovation. However, in our Byzantine parishes it was adopted out of survival as our priests saw their parishioners going to Sat evening Mass at the local Latin parish far to often.
_________________________
My cromulent posts embiggen this forum.

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#388317 - 11/21/12 01:40 AM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: Fr. Deacon Lance]
8IronBob Offline
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Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 847
Loc: Parma, Ohio, USA
Originally Posted By: Fr. Deacon Lance
Originally Posted By: Carson Daniel
Some Eastern Catholic Churches have Divine Liturgy on Saturday. I don't understand it and I will never go. It is a time for Vespers. Sunday is the day for Divine Liturgy.


Saturday has always been a day for Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine tradition as well. Of course moving it from Sat morning to Sat evening (which is liturgically Sunday) is a post Vatican II innovation. However, in our Byzantine parishes it was adopted out of survival as our priests saw their parishioners going to Sat evening Mass at the local Latin parish far to often.


Hmm... This could be true. There are some parishes that choose to hold Vespers on Saturdays, while having Divine Liturgy with Matins beforehand on Sundays, there are others that choose to have just the Vigil Divine Liturgy, then there are others that combine the two, have Vespers lead into a Vigil Divine Liturgy. There's all sorts of possibilities depending on the parish.

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#388318 - 11/21/12 02:32 AM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: Fr. Deacon Lance]
Jaya Offline
Member

Registered: 10/19/09
Posts: 671
Loc: Ohio
Originally Posted By: Fr. Deacon Lance
Saturday has always been a day for Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine tradition as well. Of course moving it from Sat morning to Sat evening (which is liturgically Sunday) is a post Vatican II innovation. However, in our Byzantine parishes it was adopted out of survival as our priests saw their parishioners going to Sat evening Mass at the local Latin parish far to often.

My comments were directed specifically to Saturday evening liturgies replacing our tradition of Great Vespers. I know why it is done, but isn't education a better strategy than capitulation? It seems like the parishes that offer Saturday evening liturgies instead of Great Vespers are falling into the same strategy as in the scenario I posted earlier in this thread of the dollar store that is now opening on Thanksgiving because Walmart is open on Thanksgiving. They're afraid of losing business to Walmart if they don't. As the dollar store employee said to me, "We don't need to do that. If people want what we have, they'll come here whether we're open on Thanksgiving or not." It seems to me we should be faithful to living our traditions, educate parishioners about their richness and purpose (how many parishioners understand why we have Great Vespers on Saturday?), and then trust the results to the Lord.

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#388320 - 11/21/12 02:55 AM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: Alice]
8IronBob Offline
Member

Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 847
Loc: Parma, Ohio, USA
Uhuh... I see where you're going with this. Although if it would help, I'd think a Vespergy every Saturday evening would help with both ends of the spectrum. Have a small Vespers then lead into a Divine Liturgy. That way, you'd have your Vespers obligation, then you'd also have the Divine Liturgy obligation as well just afterwards. There are parishes that do treat Saturday afternoons/evenings in the same way that they'd treat Sunday mornings, where you'd have a Matins leading into Divine Liturgy.

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#388323 - 11/21/12 03:16 AM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: 8IronBob]
Jaya Offline
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Registered: 10/19/09
Posts: 671
Loc: Ohio
Don't get me started on "Vespergies" smile

Anyway, it's not about obligation. It's about the richness and wisdom and beauty of our tradition, and the way it guides and supports us on our journey of theosis. My reasons for going to Vespers and to liturgy have nothing to do with "obligation" and everything to do with love, and the desire to praise and thank the Lord, and enter into ever deeper communion with Him.

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#388327 - 11/21/12 12:26 PM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: Jaya]
Ray S. Offline
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Registered: 10/07/04
Posts: 1419
Loc: .
Quote:
Also sad that others don't see Christmas (Nativity) and Easter (Pascha) the same way anymore, either, and we usually do see a larger congregation most years until recently.


Most people don't understand who Jesus is much less celebrate Nativity and Pascha. Most of America is secular now including our own parishioners. We need to worry about the basics before we can explain the importance of Sunday.

Unfortunately, we have to start with, "there was this man name Jesus who lived a long time ago...."

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#388328 - 11/21/12 01:38 PM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: Alice]
Carson Daniel Offline
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Registered: 11/07/01
Posts: 5784
Loc: Walled Lake, Mi
I really was spoiled by converting into a parish that did its best to do it right and to teach us correctly. It came with some real fights from some but it came anyway. I thank God for Annunciation. I'm finding it difficult to find any parish that is as focused where we have moved. If we go to a different one each Sunday then within a couple of months we have most of what we would have in one week at Annunciation.

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#388334 - 11/21/12 05:17 PM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: Alice]
Alice Offline
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Registered: 01/12/03
Posts: 10837
Loc: USA
Having spent time in Athens, Greece, here and there through the years, where every supermarket and shop is closed on Sundays, I can say that it *forces* us to reconnect with families and friends. It *forces* us to have a leisurely, cooked meal around a table either at home or even at a restaurant because there is nothing 'commercial' or obligatory (sports, etc.) to do!

It reminds me of growing up in the 1960's where we all gathered at my grandmother's house every Sunday after church for a large family meal in the afternoon. That was the norm for everyone.

We are much too overwhelmed by consumerism at all levels in this country. We need to step back and relax...as difficult as that can be at times!

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#388365 - 11/21/12 11:37 PM Re: Importance of Sunday/Orthodox-RC Consultation [Re: Alice]
lmier Offline
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Registered: 08/06/12
Posts: 55
Loc: Detroit, MI
Josef Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture

I had to read this book 32 years ago as a senior in High School very deep and uninteresting back then. I saw it advertized at Ignatius Press and wanted to see if it made more scene to me now that I have been working many years in a job that required me to work weekends. I think this book hits the philosophical core of the question here. The importance of Sunday. Although Pieper is a Thomistic philosopher his ideas speak to both east and west.

SUMMARY OF THE WORK FROM IGNATIUS PRESS

One of the most important philosophy titles published in the twentieth century, Josef Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture is more significant, even more crucial, today than it was when it first appeared more than fifty years ago. This edition also includes his work The Philosophical Act.

Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world. Pieper shows that the Greeks and medieval Europeans, understood the great value and importance of leisure. He also points out that religion can be born only in leisure — a leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God. Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture.

Pieper maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for non-activity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture — and ourselves.

http://www.ignatius.com/Products/LBC-P/leisure.aspx

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