I have completed my first Sabbath-honoring Sunday, and I have to admit that I think I needed it.
I did it because I decided that I was blithely ignoring the real demands of one of the Commandments.
It turns out that Sabbath-keeping is not for sissies.
The Catechism says that we not only should cease from our own labors on Sunday, but that we should also not do things that require other people to labor.
Does that mean no movies, no eating out, no fun on Sundays?
I decided, at least for yesterday, that it does.
What that meant for me is that I was stuck all day in the house with a football play-off thing. My men watch football all day throughout the weekend. They flip from one game to another during commercials, and as soon as a game ends, they dial up another one somewhere else. They can literally watch football for the entire weekend.
I’ve always regarded this as an opportunity. It makes a great time to go out with my girlfriends. Movies. The occasional play. Shopping. Swizzling in fern bars and eating in nice restaurants.
It is so good.
I come home to happy, football-sated men. Everybody has a grin on their face and nobody is bored out of their gourd — which is what I was for much of yesterday.
I entered this sabbath-keeping thing all unprepared. I only decided to do it about an hour or so before mass on Saturday. I didn’t even get around to re-reading the Catechism to see what Sabbath keeping means until I got home from church. Then I wondered what kind of weekly purgatory I had signed up for.
No shopping? No eating out? No fern bars?
Say you don’t mean it Lord. Puleeez say you don’t mean it.
I ended up wandering around the house listening to the yelps and yips from the men while the football droned on in the background. I didn’t work. Not on anything. I didn’t write a word on my book. I didn’t even look at Public Catholic. And I kept my greasy little fingers off the legislation and the lists of things I need to do for the office. I didn’t even call up other legislators and talk shop.
What I did instead was play the piano, because I decided piano playing, which I do with total incompetence and certainly not for money, is not work. I also read a book about atheism that inspired ideas about a future blog post, and spent hours on the iPad reading blogs by writers talking about writing. I followed that by browsing the internet, looking at the software (which I don’t need) that these writers talked about in their blog posts. Then, to top it off, I noodled with ideas for political activity on an issue I’m concerned about.
I didn’t do any work. But I never stopped thinking about it.
The odd part is that I was sorry when Sunday was over. After I got past the listening-to-football-is-punishment phase, I kind of got into this no-work thing. I think that if I had several of these Sabbath days in a row, I might actually figure out how to do this deal.
One day is just not long enough for me to turn off that work stuff. It swirls in my brain, no matter whether I do it or not. To be honest, even going out with my girlfriends and gossiping down the town doesn’t really divert me. I need at least three days of no work, back to back, to stop work from owning me.
I wonder if I’m being too severe with this Sabbath stuff. After all, I’ve had plenty of good times with priests in restaurants on Sundays. Every priest I know eats out on Sundays. Does that mean that we’re all breaking the Sabbath together? Or does it mean that I’m misunderstanding the requirements?
I’m going to keep plugging on with this Sabbath-honoring thing. As I said in my prayers before sleep last night, I know I didn’t do it too well yesterday. I’m just hoping that somebody who understands it better can give me guidance.
In the meantime, I am a bit gobsmacked. The toughest commandment, at least for me, may very well be “take a day off.” Who would have guessed that?