This Week’s Ask Alice: A Question About Sunday – the Lord’s Day – and the Sabbath.



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Charles C. asks: Why is the Sabbath mentioned many times in the N.T. and Sunday only mentioned TWICE in over 30 years after Pentecost strengthened the disciples to evangelize? Paul: One time—commands work (gathering an offering to be collected at a later date) to the Corinthian church with a high commandment-keeping Jewish contingency (1 Cor. 16:1-3), See that church’s formation in Acts 18. Luke: One time (Acts 20:4-14)–talks of communion service on Saturday evening (all the disciples used Jewish reckoning, sunset being the new day), then tells of SEVEN commandment-keeping Jews boating all day Sunday with Luke, and Paul hiking throughout the daylight hours of Sunday to Assos.

Alice answers: The Bible does not furnish a complete account of every event that ever happened, throughout the long history of the Judeo-Christian faith tradition. Nor is the Bible a complete catechism, detailing every recommended belief and practice of the Christian faith.

The Bible is the Holy Spirit inspired, infallible Word of God … as faithfully compiled, written (in part), preserved, certified and translated, by the Catholic Church. It’s also important to remember that the Church was already 400 years old, and firmly established, by the time all of this was actually accomplished.

Attempting to determine specific historical details from the scant accounts appearing in the Bible alone … some 2000 years after the fact, without reliance on authentic Catholic tradition … is generally an exercise in futility, leading nowhere … or worse, into serious error.

The simple fact is, there was never a need to put into writing that which the church had always and everywhere, from the earliest days, publicly proclaimed and put into actual practice, since (before the Protestant Reformation) every Christian, in every place (even the illiterate) would certainly know such things by memory and through force of habit. Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and even most Protestants, still do.

Now, for the specifics:

The Catholic Church permits Saturday evening “Sunday” worship. Saturday evening worship generally and customarily fulfills the existing Sunday worship obligation.

There are eight New Testament references to “Sunday” … which officially replaces the Old Testament Saturday sabbath, as the Lord’s Day.

First and foremost, Sunday is the day of Jesus’ resurrection … and ever since, Sunday has been celebrated as the primary Feast Day of (virtually) all Christianity.

1: Jesus rose from the dead early on the first day of the week…

2: He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast out seven demons. (Mark 16:9)

3: That same day Jesus appeared to two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:33-35)

4: On the evening of that first day of the week, even though the disciples had locked the doors of the place where they were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood before them. (John 20:19)

5: A week later (Sunday) Jesus appeared to Thomas to dispel his doubts about His resurrection. (John 20:26)

6: Pentecost, the birthday of our Church, occurred on a Sunday.

7: While in Corinth, Paul takes up a collection for the relief of needy believers on a Sunday. (Acts 11:27-30)

8: During a Sunday meeting in Troas, Paul preached so long that a youth named Eutychus, who was sitting on a window sill went to sleep, then fell from the third story and died. Paul restored him to life and continued preaching. (Acts 20:3-14)

In two other New Testament sabbath passages we have St. Paul explaining that Christians are NOT required to observe the Jewish sabbath. One key example:

No one is free, therefore, to pass judgmenton you in terms of what you eat or drink or what you do on yearly or monthly feasts, or on the sabbath. (Colossians 2:16)

Paul often preaches in Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath. However, he does not preach in synagogues as a religious obligation, but rather because that is the place where he can reach the largest number of his Jewish brothers and sisters.

Under the Old Covenant, the Hebrews/Israelites/Jews were obligated under the Mosaic Law to keep the sabbath. Non-Jews were never required to do so.

Under the New Covenant, the awesome and virtually unrestricted power of binding and loosing … on earth and in heaven … was given only to the one, holy, apostolic and universal (Catholic) Church. In the words of Jesus Christ:

And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)

Now, there would be “The People of God” – the members of the Catholic Church … and universal, Sunday, Eucharistic worship … according to the express command of our savior:

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood. This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall proclaim the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.
(1st Corinthians 11:23-27)

Jesus Christ gave us an all new, Christian covenant, based on his grace … not on the old law … and on the work, worship, sacraments and devotions of his universal (Catholic) Church … not the old Jewish Temple Worship System, which itself would soon pass away.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, neither Jews nor Gentiles were required to keep the old Saturday sabbath, since the purpose of the old law had been served, and the Old Covenant (in its entirety) had been fulfilled and respectfully set aside by Christ, in favor of the New, grace empowered and saving Covenant, which he instituted for us at the Last Supper, paid for on the cross with his own blood, and confirmed through his glorious resurrection:

For there is no distinction of the Jew and the Greek: for the same is Lord over all, rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:12-13)

The Catholic Church … the only living “eye-witness” for Jesus Christ, and for all the events of the New Testament … explains in its official Catechism, the important differences between the sabbath of old, and Sunday, the Lord’s Day:

Sunday – fulfillment of the sabbath

2175 Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ’s Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man’s eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:

Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord’s Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.

2176 The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship “as a sign of his universal beneficence to all.” Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.

In Christ’s love,

Alice

Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

Survey Says: On a given Sunday only about 15.6% of American Catholics attend Mass.


Shery Weddell at the St Catherine of Siena Institute reports that 32% of Americans raised Catholic abandon the identity altogether by their mid twenties. An additional 38% retain the identity but rarely practice their faith. 30% of those who call themselves Catholic attend Mass only once a month. On a given Sunday only about 15.6% of American Catholics attend Mass.

Editor’s note: Looking back to my own “fallen away Catholic” days … not attempting to make excuses … but only observations:

When I was coming of age in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s the Catholic Church was in a state of revolution and flux. So great was the revolution that it was virtually impossible to get a straight answer from anyone in authority. And things are not that much better today!

It seems to me that, in the aftermath of the 2nd Vatican Council, the Catholic Church took a decided turn to the left. And along with that sharp left turn came all of the “sins” of modernism and liberalism: Soft, relativistic, revisionary teachings (if any); Change for the sake of change (derision and/or abandonment of virtually all that came before); Political correctness (a commitment to politics and ideology, even above holiness and traditional Catholic dogma).

And while this was especially noticeable in large, urban centers … it certainly was not limited to those venues.

In short … the Catholic Church made a totally unannounced and unexpected, sharp, left turn. Meanwhile, many otherwise faithful, traditional Catholics … continued going straight ahead!

By the time we took the time to look around, what we once knew as “the Church” had become almost unrecognizable … and now seemed (at least in it’s latest iteration) almost totally irrelevant!

For many, it would take quite a few years of “wandering in the desert” before we could even begin getting back together again. Millions upon millions of others are still “lost”.

The continuing, sad state of many Catholic seminaries, universities, and women’s religious orders … along with the recent, virtually world-wide, clerical abuse scandals … coupled with the apparent large number of weak and/or incompetent Catholic priests and bishops … all serve to further undermine the chances for any real progress.

But fortunately … since all things are possible, with God … hope remains. It’s not the first time the Church has been in crisis. Nor is it likely to be the last!

Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away?
And Simon Peter answered him:
Lord, to whom shall we go?
Thou hast the words of eternal life.
(John 6:67-68)

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NEW! Catholic TV On WGN In Chicago: Sunday Mornings at 9:30.


Just a quick note about a great new, 1/2 hour Catholic TV program that is now appearing in the Chicago area, on WGN (broadcast channel 9) every Sunday morning, at 9:30.

The show also appears on cable (WGN Coast To Coast – check local listings for time and availability.)

The host of the show is Father Robert Barron, who is a brilliant theologian, a great inspirational speaker, and a good priest.

Father Barron is based in Chicago, and he carries on the great broadcast teaching tradition of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and Father John Corapi.

No need to say anything more.

Just remember to tune in next Sunday morning. Or, if you can’t wait, visit Father Barron’s website: Word On Fire.

37 killed in Iraq, as a Catholic church is taken over by terrorists

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) — Iraqi security forces stormed a Catholic church Sunday where gunmen suspected of having ties to al Qaeda were holding worshippers hostage, ending an hours-long standoff, police officials said Sunday.

Thirty-seven people were killed in the operation, including hostages, kidnappers and security workers, they said. At least seven of the victims were hostages, police officials said, while another 57 were wounded.

Eight suspects were arrested.

More…

The critical importance of attending Sunday Mass

Why Sunday’s are still for church

Submitted by Robert K.

Cheating on Lenten sacrifice no sin

For those who do sacrifice to get closer to God, what matters is effort, not perfection, said the Rev. Michael Watson of St. Andrew Parish, a Catholic church in Upper Arlington.

“Because we’re prone to human weakness from time to time, it doesn’t mean the end of the world,” he said.

Slipping up is not a sin unless the action you committed is itself a sin, he said.

So if you swore off alcohol and had one cocktail, that’s not a sin. But if you had five and got drunk, you probably committed the sin of immoderation, whether it’s Lent or not.

People who slip sometimes tell the Rev. Jerry Rodenfels of the Church of the Resurrection in New Albany, as if they have to confess their misdeeds.

He tells them “not to worry. It’s not a sin,” he said. But they still feel bad.

“For those of us who are older, there’s something instilled in us called Catholic guilt,” Rodenfels said, laughing.

Churchgoers also debate whether they can “cheat” on Sundays, because those days technically aren’t included in the 40 days of Lent.

The priests say you can. Sunday is, as Rodenfels called it, a “free” day.

That’s because Sunday is the weekly joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection, said Leo Madden, a professor of theology at Ohio Dominican University.

“It is incompatible for a period of time marked by sacrifice to occur at the same time,” Madden said. “Technically speaking, Sunday is not a day of Lent.”

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