A personal journey towards keeping Sabbath
It’s an overcast day in the beginning of March; I am sitting in Hebrew Scriptures class, listening to a lecture on the Decalogue. Divide the Ten Commandments into two parts; the first three concern our relationship with God and the remaining seven focuses on our relationships with each other. This lecture is basic and for a cold morning in late winter my mind is still at home, curled up under warm blankets. Certainly I am familiar with the commandments; I’ve reviewed them many times. Something about the professor’s delivery catches my attention. All her talk relates to my current struggles with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I have been trying earnestly to change behaviors which lead to sin; they all tend to revolve around the last seven sacraments. It’s frustrating, a lost cause, trying to eradicate these sins. I have compared it to trying to weed a garden; without getting to the root of the weeds, I am clearly laboring in vain.
It is easier to keep the last seven commandments if you keep the first three. Hey, what is that I heard? Maybe I am spending too much time focusing on my failings with the last seven commandments. Maybe I need to turn my attention to the first three. In fact, you are not keeping the first two commandments, if you don’t keep the third. The third commandment, now what is that one…let’s think here…Keep the Lord’s Day holy. I do that. I certainly go to church every Sunday, have not missed a Sunday Mass in a long time. Give up all work on Sunday, no laundry, cutting the grass, cleaning, school work (except for Hebrew Scriptures reading)….laughter. How would we get everything done? Is it possible to give up working on Sunday and focus on God? Can we do this in our lives now… (Silence)….pretty tough….huh? Well, rethinking things, maybe I don’t keep the Lord’s Day holy after all. I am going to Mass but that is it. Sunday is another day of the weekend, albeit a bit shorter than Saturday because time is taken out in the morning for Mass but, still another day to get work done. There was nothing special about the day. Definitely not like when I was growing up with special Sunday meals, everyone at the table, visiting friends or relatives. Sundays have become just another day. I am not keeping the Sabbath, which means I am going to have a tougher time keeping the last seven sacraments and I am definitely not keeping the first two. Well, my next confession can just be; I broke all the commandments Father, every last one!
A week or more went by and this experience did not leave my thoughts. Before the class on the Decalogue, I had been viewing my sins as multiplying beyond my reach, like weeds in a garden. During prayer, I turned my thoughts to practicing the Sabbath; I realized my sins could not be tamed by my feeble attempts to conquer them. Instead, if the eyes of my heart became fixed upon God, He would in turn heal the depths of my soul, the source of my most painful wounds, the place from which my sin grew, then, and only then, could my multiplying sins be tempered. By allowing God’s love into the depths of my soul I would be healed and then grow closer to Him, who is all love. This could only be done by spending more time with Him, building my week around His day, the Sabbath. With this revelation it became clear to me why it was not just important to keep the Lord’s Day holy, but also why I desperately needed to practice Sabbath.
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