September 16, 2018
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
The Lord’s Day as the Center of our Christian Life
The third commandment of the Decalogue is “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day” (Exodus 20:8). As the Catechism says:
“In speaking of the Sabbath Scripture recalls creation: ‘For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.’” (CCC 2169)
“Scripture also reveals in the Lord’s day a memorial of Israel’s liberation from bondage in Egypt: ‘You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out thence with mighty hand and outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.’” (2170)
Just as the Israelites were liberated from slavery in Egypt, and were instructed to keep one day each week as a day to remember God’s mercy shown to them, how much more do we as Christians, who have been liberated from our sins by the blood of Christ, need to take a day to remember and give thanks to God for his mercy?
“God entrusted the Sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable covenant. The Sabbath is for the Lord, holy and set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on behalf of Israel.” (2171)
Again, how much more do we as Christians, who have been made part of the “new and eternal covenant” in Christ, need to keep the Lord’s day holy for the praise of God?
“Jesus rose from the dead ‘on the first day of the week.’ Because it is the ‘first day,’ the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the ‘eight day’ following the Sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day – Sunday.” (2174)
“The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life.” (2177)
“This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful ‘not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another.’” (2178)
As I have reflected and prayed about this importance of the Lord’s day, it has really been on my heart how important the weekly Mass is—not only in the regular life of the parish, but especially in preparation for receiving the sacraments of initiation (baptism, first communion, and confirmation).
For this reason, I have decided to begin requiring attendance at weekend Mass as an essential preparation for receiving the sacraments. This will ensure that the child is taking seriously his or her sacramental preparation. If we do not form a habit of living the Catholic life before receiving the sacraments, it rarely happens that this habit is formed later in life. Thus, if a family does not make weekend Mass a priority, it will be determined that the child has not been properly prepared to receive the sacrament, and he or she will have to repeat the sacramental preparation year the following year.
Included in today’s bulletin is a copy of the letter I am sending home with all our parish families with children. My hope is that this new emphasis on attending weekly Mass will help assist parents in helping their children know and love the Lord, and form a lifelong habit of gathering with the parish community and celebrating the Lord’s Day.
You are in my daily prayers.
God bless you,
Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke