Sunday: Making Sunday great again

Letter from the District Superior, Rev. Robert Brucciani, March 2023

My Dear Brethren,

The Checklist of Fervour

To be a fervent Catholic one must aspire with humility to the perfection of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity and set about the execution of a long list of activities. One must assist at Mass whenever possible, receive Holy Communion frequently, go to confession at least monthly, recite five decades of the Rosary, morning prayers, evening prayers, examination of conscience all daily, wear the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and perhaps a miraculous medal too, read the Bible, meditate upon sound spiritual writings, go on pilgrimages and retreats from time to time, practice penance and perform spiritual and corporal works of mercy as occasion arises.

So many things to do! But that is not all; there is still the practice that pertains to the greatest good which is the common good. The common good of Catholic life is collective, public prayer. And the greatest collective, public prayer is Sunday Mass.

Perhaps one may be bold enough to say that the perfect execution of the ceremonies of Sunday Mass constitutes the ordinary perfection of the Catholic life in this world.

This might sound hyperbolic, but we can grasp the reasonableness of this statement when we consider that man is a social being and that he cannot attain perfection without the perfection of that society of which he is a part. The perfection of both the individual and of society is found in the common act of contemplation, adoration and love of the Supreme Being. It is the act of the entire community praying the perfect prayer—the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—together as a community.

The Sabbath At Church

It was for this reason that God gave us the Sabbath; there had to be a day when all the community stopped their regular work, their servile work, so that they could pray together. Sunday Mass is an end to which all our spiritual lives, family lives, work lives and social lives should be ordained. Sunday is not a mere day of interruption of the working routine to help restore our forces so that one might remain productive in the workplace.

Sunday is for Sunday Mass, which is the pinnacle of the week. The Mass should be a work of the entire community not just the immediate preparation of the few: the sacristans, servers, choir, florists, ushers and cleaners, but the long term preparation of the builders, sculptors, painters, carpenters, seamstresses and myriad other trades necessary to make the church to be the most beautiful space, fit for the most beautiful prayer.

And for those who can't sing, serve, prepare flowers or help in any way, there is still the responsibility of preparing oneself for the Sunday Mass, by wearing one's best clothes, by bringing a missal, by arriving in good time for a regular confession, or for prayers of preparation such as the Rosary. There is responsibility to make the act of worship as fitting as possible for God by following the Mass attentively, by offering oneself with the Divine Victim which benefits not only self, but the whole Mystical Body.

One's possessions should be offered for the Sunday Mass too donations for the upkeep of the church and the support of its pastors enough to be a true sacrifice.

Sunday Mass, that perfect common prayer of the Mystical Body, should be sung and should not finish with the Ite missa est either; it should include a heartfelt thanksgiving and then should be prolonged throughout the day. In times past, it was a common practice that Holy Communion was received at an early Mass on a Sunday so that a hearty breakfast might be had before returning for a Solemn High Mass (and lengthy sermon) in the late morning. And then typically more than half the parish returned for vespers, another sermon and benediction in the evening. It was truly the Lord's Day.

The Sabbath At Home

Sunday should be special in the home too, for the home is the "domestic church". Saturday is the day of cleaning, polishing, washing and ironing, in preparation for Sunday. Sunday is a day for the family to be together. It should be a delightful day in which family members manifest their love for each other.

We must remember that the third commandment to keep Sunday holy is a positive precept, not a negative one. It is not principally about doing no work on one day, but about doing those things which raise the heart and mind to God on His day.

Keeping Sunday holy is the key to the vocation of the father who is the pontifex of the family. The family must see that he leads in the practice in the faith, that he gives Our Lord dominion over his home.

Our Lady's Admonition

When Our Lady appeared to two children, Maximin and Mélanie, at La Salette in 1846, she expressly lamented that Sunday was not being respected:

'I gave you six days to work, I kept the seventh for myself, and no one wishes to grant it to me.' This is what weighs down the arm of my Son so much.

My dear brethren, we need to make Sunday great again to arrive at the perfection of Christian life in this world. As Lent approaches, why not make a resolution to this end?

It will not only be for our personal good, the good of our families and the good of our parishes, it will give us that identity which will draw souls to the one, true faith. It will be for the common good. It will be that element on the list of fervent Catholic observances that most demonstrably manifests our faith, hope and charity and hence our perfection as Catholics.

In Jesu et Maria,

Rev. Robert Brucciani

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