Sunday, A Day of Rest Bishop Ray Browne

In the past year Bishop Ray has spoken often of the great importance of

a ‘Christian Sunday’ for the continued strength of faith of each parish community.

The following is a statement on Sunday as ‘a day of rest’, prepared

for the homily of the Mass of Pattern Day in Ballyheigue on the 8th of December.

Due to the heavy rain the full statement was not delivered.

Sunday, a day of rest

O Day of light, and life, and grace,

From earthly toil a resting-place!

Introducing the Diocesan Pastoral Plan in Autumn 2015 I wrote: “One thing I ask is that we all respect and promote Sunday as the Lord’s Day: a day of rest; a day to turn to God in prayer; and a day to gather to celebrate Mass together. How we understand and live Sunday is vital to Christian living”.

If Sunday is strong in our Christian practice, our faith communities will continue strong and healthy. If our sense of Sunday continues to weaken and weaken, will the day come when our Christian communities die out? Are we promoting in our communities, and also passing on to our children and grandchildren, a tradition of Sunday as a day of rest? This is the first key dimension of a Christian Sunday, – a great challenge for all of us.

On the seventh day God completed the work he had being doing. He rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he had rested after all his work of creating.  Gen 2 : 2-3

Just as God rested on the seventh day, all human life has a rhythm of work and rest. Sunday is our concrete, visible witness to this. Work is just a part of life, an important part but not the most important part. We are not slaves to work. We talk of living a balanced life, of everything in moderation.

Many countries world-wide have maintained a strong tradition of Sunday as a quiet day, a day of rest. One day in seven there is a different routine: a day without the pressure or stress of work; a day to ponder life’s mysteries, God is life’s deepest mystery.

If Sunday is not for work, what is Sunday for?  For home and family; children and the elderly; neighbours and community; tending the heart, tending the soul; sport and recreation; arts and culture.   Simple things matter: being at home together; having time around the table to eat a meal together and to chat; time to just rest, time to get some fresh air into our lungs, time to unwind.

Many people work on Sunday for good reasons, reasons that are personal or that relate to the nature of their work (hospitals, hotels, gardai). People who work on Sundays can still contribute to seeing Sunday as a day of rest. We can all work together that the overall atmosphere proclaims Sunday as a day of rest in our communities.

O Day of light, and life, and grace,

From earthly toil a resting-place!

Bishop Ray Browne 8th September 2017