Core Decorum: your Sunday best includes rest

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Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang.

What do my Sundays look like? 

I asked myself this question when I came across a beautiful poem by George Herbert, my focal poet for the JPo project. This particular poem is named “Sunday,” and I highly recommend looking up the poem in its entirety. 

While this isn’t a poem analysis, I’ll save that for Dr. Andrew Osborn, it is nevertheless an opportunity to reflect a little deeper on the inherent value of Sundays and how we should be living them.      

Herbert refers to Sundays as, “The couch of time; care’s balm and bay.” 

This should remind us that the origin of the Sabbath is in the story of creation itself and that it was created by God as a day of rest.

“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made: and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. And He blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because in it He had rested from all his work which God created and made,” (Genesis 2:2-3).    

Observing the Sabbath as a day of rest is not only set as an example by God Himself, but is even instructed by Him in the third commandment, arguably one of the least addressed commandments. 

We must not forget that God would not have commanded it if He did not view it as essential for loving him. Thus, as Herbert says, “The week were dark, but for thy light: / Thy torch doth show the way.” The Sabbath is necessary for us to find God. 

Most importantly, the Sabbath was elevated even higher by the Resurrection of Christ. Herbert writes, “This day my Saviour rose, / And did inclose this light for his… Thou art a day of mirth: / And where the week-days trail on ground, / Thy flight is higher as thy birth.”  

Of course, as Catholics, the primary way we keep holy the Lord’s day is by attending Sunday Mass. There is no greater way in which we keep Sundays holy than this. 

But, Herbert’s poem has prompted me to reflect on some questions. 

How am I spending the other twenty-three hours of my Sundays? Is it truly a day of rest for me? Why is it often easier to work instead of rest?

What should Sunday rest look like? It must not be mistaken for idleness; Sundays in no way consist of negligence from the duties God has given us. 

Rather, if it is possible, we should plan in advance the other six days of the week so that we have Sundays free to rest. This rest should consist of prayer, reflection and time spent with the people God has placed in our lives. It should consist of gratefulness for the previous week and hopeful petition for the next. 

Herbert states beautifully, “Sundays the pillars are, / On which heav’n’s palace archèd lies…They are the fruitful beds and borders / In God’s rich garden.” 

As it is with all the commandments, we must constantly renew our efforts in following them.

This is especially true while we are still at the beginning of a new semester. We should strive to not only form new habits of work, but of rest. God offers us a whole day of rest every week– are we receiving His gift? 

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