My mom grew up in a Catholic farming family. In keeping with the Third Commandment, they did not do farm work on Sundays unless it was absolutely necessary. As my mom describes it, when they had to work on a Sunday, it seemed like the farm equipment was always breaking down.
My parents instilled in me the importance of keeping the Lord’s Day holy. On Sundays we participated in Mass and played games as a family. We did not do work around the house or yard. We rarely shopped, except to pick up the Sunday paper and maybe some donuts after church.
I strive to continue to honor Sunday as a day to rest in the Lord and enjoy the people around me. For example, I don’t do yard work on Sundays because mowing is not something I particularly enjoy. Working in healthcare, though, I’ve not always had the option of completely avoiding work on Sundays.
For two years I worked a weekend package at the hospital, which involved working ten-hour days on Saturday and Sunday, with only a few weekends off each year. While I was able to make it to Mass on Sunday right after work, a day that included ten or more hours of work did not seem like a day of rest to me.
I decided to designate Wednesday as my own personal Sabbath. I attended school Mass with my nieces and nephew, followed by Wednesday morning Bible study. In the afternoon I might take a bike ride (for fun, of course), work on a craft project, or read a book. In the evening I taught a second-grade religious education class. It was a good set-up for me, but I still wasn’t sure if it was okay with God. The Church has celebrated Sunday as the Lord’s Day ever since the resurrection of Jesus. Did I really have the authority to arbitrarily move it to a different day?
It was autumn. Leaves covered my lawn, and there was snow predicted for Thursday. I felt like I had to mulch my leaves on Wednesday, or I would end up with a matted mess in the spring when the snow melted. I decided to make an exception to my rule and use the lawn mower on my Sabbath—Wednesday. I just ran the mower over the parts of the lawn with the most leaves, so I could finish up as quickly as possible and return to my normal Sabbath observance.
That night the wind came up and blew leaves from other yards into mine. I awoke in the morning to find all of the areas I had just cleared blanketed with leaves again. Laughing at myself, I pulled out the lawn mower and repeated exactly what I had done the day before.
I interpreted the yard full of leaves as God saying “Yes, you can designate Wednesday as My day, but you better stick to it!” It was a combination admonition and affirmation like only God can deliver, and a great reminder that God does have a sense of humor!
How do you keep the Lord’s Day holy? Is it truly a day of rest for you?
Has God every communicated with you in a unique way (like through a pile of leaves)? I’d love to hear about it!