How to keep the sabbath day holy as a Catholic.
How to Keep the Sabbath Day Holy
How do you keep the sabbath day holy? Is this something just for Jews to observe (since the commandment is the Old Testament) or is it for Christians to do as well? Since Jesus came to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament and all of the promises God made to the Jews, this means that yes, we as Christians are to keep the sabbath holy.
After God parted the Red Sea and led the Israelites out of Egypt, He gave Moses the Ten Commandments on stone tablets. This shows how important they are, that He wrote them on stone so they could be preserved and remembered. The third Commandment is “Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.” It sounds straightforward, but what does it actually mean to put it into practice?
Does Jesus tell us to keep the sabbath holy in the new testament?
Jesus is the Son of God. As a Jew, He kept all the Commandments. Anything considered work that He did on Sunday was to heal people and share the good news of God; He did not labor.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 2175 explains how, for Christians, Sunday takes the place of the sabbath:
“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.”
This means that Christ and the celebration of the Mass on the Lord’s day is our focus as Catholics.
What does the Third Commandment tell us?
The Third Commandment (Exodus 20: 8-11) states: “Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”
Sunday is a day of rest.
Sunday is a day of worship and celebration of the Mass. The Lord's day is a day to share in the Heavenly feast of the Mass, to spend time in community as a family of faith with our fellow Catholics.
Sunday is a day of rest. After God created the world, He rested. He is God; He did not need to rest, but He did. In doing this, He set the example for us to take a day to rest each week. We need to rest to restore our energy and our spirit. If we keep moving full steam ahead, we will burn out very quickly.
It does take discipline to take a day of rest. It can take some planning, too, to get things done on other days of the week so that you can rest on Sunday.
What should you not do on the sabbath?
According to the Third Commandment, we are to do all of our labor for six days so we can rest on the seventh day because it is the Lord's day. The first thing to do is to determine what is unnecessary labor and what is necessary labor.
For example, a doctor working on a Sunday is necessary labor. Cooking a meal for your family is necessary.
Is shopping on Sunday necessary? What about doing laundry or yard work on Sunday? Plan your week so you can do these things during the other six days of the week. If you mow the lawn of a senior neighbor (a charitable work) or fix something on Sunday that broke suddenly (like the kitchen faucet), that is necessary labor.
God tells us that Sunday is not just another ordinary day.
The main point we need to understand is that Sunday is not just another ordinary day of the week. Sunday is the Lord's day. It is a day that is special and set aside for God. He wants us to spend it in rest and in communion with Him at Mass.
How can we do keep the Lord's day holy, to rest and to take a break from labor? Planning is important.
What you can do to keep the sabbath day holy as a Catholic
If you are wondering how to keep the lord's day holy as a Catholic, let the third Commandment be your guide: do your labor on six days; the seventh day is for the Lord and for rest.
Plan your labor for the six days of the week. Plan yard work, grocery shopping, laundry, and toiling on a project for your home ahead of time so you can keep Sunday free from these things.
Plan how you can keep the sabbath holy. Decide before Sunday what extra thing you will do to keep it holy. You can spend more time in prayer. Perhaps you can pray a Rosary, read and reflect on the Mass readings, or spend time reading your Bible. Listen to a Catholic radio show (like Relevant Radio); spend more time together as a family.
When you take a rest from your labors, you have more time to spend with God and your family on Sunday. When you plan ahead you can really enjoy the purpose of the sabbath rest.
Remember what Jesus tells us in Mark 2:27 about the sabbath: "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath." This means that God established the sabbath for our own benefit. It is for us to take a break from our labors to rest and to keep a day reserved for the Lord.
Resources to help you to keep the Lord's day holy as a Catholic
8 Simple Time Management Tips for Moms
Grow in faith:
Catholic Spiritual Reading Recommendations
A Bible Reading Plan for Beginners- 3 Different Ways You Can Read the Bible in Just 15 Minutes a Day
Relevant Radio-Catholic radio station
Aileen Grant says
Keep the Sabbath Holy is the 4th Command, why did you say it’s the third? The Bible doesn’t say that “keeping the sabbath means going to Mass”, That sounds like a check-the-box kind of “religion”.
How many other ways has religion distorted the Sabbath?
In the Bible, it is the third commandment mentioned: https://blessedcatholicmom.com/ten-commandments-catholic-version/
Keeping the Sabbath holy in Jesus’ time meant worshipping God at the Temple. Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament. Now we worship Jesus. Going to Mass is one way we follow this Commandment.
Thank you Mary for glorifying God’s name through Jesus by reminding us to keep Sunday holy. I’ve gotten to learn a lot more about official cathecism documents after reading your responses from comments, so please keep it going! Sending you my prayers and blessings that our Blessed Mother abundantly blesses you and your family! Peace to you.
Thank you for your kind words. I am so glad it was helpful! Thank you so much for your prayers. I pray for my readers, too!
Thank you. It took a couple of hours to find a Catholic, including priests, who seems to understand that fulfilling our Sunday obligation includes not doing unnecessary work. It does require discipline and planning and sacrifice. It is a mortal sin to do unnecessary work on Sunday. It is not optional!
You are welcome! Our God is so good.
Can we find anywhere in the entire Bible where we were instructed to keep Sunday holy?
Sunday is not specifically mentioned. In the Bible in Exodus 20: 2-17, we are told to keep the Sabbath holy. The Sabbath was their weekly day to worship together and fulfill God’s commandment. For Catholics, Sunday is our day to worship at Mass. Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday, so every Sunday is like a little Easter for us.
RICHARD S GIESER says
Are you saying that the Catholic Catechism supercedes the Third Commandment ?
Thank you for your question. I am saying that the Catechism explains what the Sabbath meant in the time of Jesus and what Sunday means to us now in the Catholic church. To be more accurate, I should have titled this post How to Keep the Lord’s day Holy!
Tino Garcia says
How do we observe the Sabbath in terms of time? Is it from sunrise to sunset or from 12:01am to 12:00pm, meaning the whole 24 hrs of the day?
This is a good question. In our Catholic faith, observing the Lord’s day means going to Mass on Sunday OR a vigil Mass (at 4 pm or later) on Saturday. Other than that requirement for Mass, I do not know if the Church has a specific time frame. I could not find anything in my research. For the Jews, the Sabbath “is a 25-hour period of rest lasting from just before sunset on Friday evening until nightfall on Saturday,” according to https://www.kveller.com/article/shabbat-basics/.
Gavin Dagg says
You quoted the bible requarding the 7th day is the sabbath but Sunday is the first day
Yes, I did. In the Old Testament quote, the 7th day was the Sabbath. The Catechism of the Catholic Church #2175 explains this change: “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.”
Zorayda L Straley says
I am 71 years old and I don’t drive. Is listening to Reverand T D Jakes sermon online considered keeping the sabbath?
Hi Zorayda, That is a good question. As a Catholic, keeping the sabbath means going to Mass. When that is not possible, participating in an online Mass or reading the Bible Mass readings is a good way to participate. If you are not Catholic, listening to a sermon or an entire church service is a great way to be connected to God on the sabbath.