Our entire society sees something special about Sunday. Business hourschange. Breakfast menus expand. Work hours shrink. Sporting events surface. The newspaper inflates. Movie schedules increase. We expect leisure on Sunday. Part of the weekend, it begins the week and ends the week. It is a sacred day,a time outside normal time when life takes a break. Sunday symbolizes paradise,a place and pace of leisure and pleasure.
How did all this happen? We Christians owned Sunday first. It's our mostimportant day. On a Sunday Jesus rose from the dead (e.g. Mt 28:1). On Sundayshis followers met to break bread (e.g. Acts 20:7). The resurrection is our mostcentral belief. We choose Sunday for our primary gathering because the dayitself proclaims our faith. Mass on Wednesday or Monday just wouldn't be thesame. Sunday is Easter. You can change the day you shop for groceries or go tothe bank without loss. But church is different. It demands a particular day,like a holiday or an anniversary. If we haven't gathered for Eucharist onSunday, we haven't proclaimed the resurrection.
Our definition of "Sunday" includes Saturday night. This does notcompromise to convenience. Jesus rose from the dead during the night. So ourEucharist still honors the resurrection when it takes place at the beginning ofthat night--namely, on Saturday evening.
If a serious reason keeps you from attending church on Sunday, your pastormay dispense you. Your conversation with him honors your commitment to yourcommunity. On a Sunday when you cannot participate in the eucharist, you maywish to pray the scriptures of that day and share a prayer at meal with otherbelievers.
Unity, leisure, and prayer characterize a Sunday. Our attendance at churchunites us with the believers of our own community and with all Christiansthroughout the world. Our abstinence from work frees our mind for prayer. Football, food, and freedom are all supplementary to Sunday's main purpose,celebrating Eucharist.(This bulletin insert originally appeared in MODERN LITURGY, copyright (c) 1996, Resource Publications, Inc. It may not be reproduced without permission. Send permission requests to firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant' Anselmo University.)