Europeans Close Up Shop on Sundays

Europe has become completely secularized, right?

That’s the common understanding.  Church attendance, we hear, is at record low levels.  Within ten years, pollsters predict, England will be a predominantly atheist nation.

What a surprise, then, to read in L’Osservatore Romano that thirteen European nations have joined together to say “No” to working on Sundays.  The European Sunday Alliance—a special-interest group of various unions, associations of civil society, as well as Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox communities—united to confirm their belief that Sunday should be a day of rest.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered peacefully in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and Spain.  At the same time, the Croatian Bishops’ Conference, through its Commission for Justice and Peace, released a statement intended to raise Christians’ awareness of the importance of the Sunday rest. “It is necessary,” said the Croatian bishops’ document, “to respect Sunday as a day of rest for everyone, a day for families to be together, a day for volunteer and charitable works, for cultural and social activities and a day for Christians to celebrate and glorify the Lord.”

If you are of a certain age, you may remember when businesses and stores here in the United States posted their hours on their doors, along with the message

Closed on Sunday.
See you in church.

With grocery stores, big-box stores, department stores and most pharmacies closed on Sunday, and with no Internet and only three television stations from which to choose, families naturally spent more time together.  Parks were crowded with picnickers, baseball diamonds were in constant use, childhood obesity was rare because kids never stopped moving.

Those were the days.

What could we do to bring back that sense of community, that love of the outdoors, that place of honor given to Mom, who had prepared an aromatic, homecooked Sunday dinner?  Any ideas?

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