We’re all aware of the commandment to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Most of us know that this is why we’re expected to be at the Liturgy (Mass, service, etc.) each week, and on Holy days. And in our snarky, self-amused manner we stand boldly (those of us who do go when we’re “supposed to”) and proclaim, “Look how good I am, having upheld the command of the Lord.”
But is it enough? Is that hour (or two and a half, if you’re an Easterner) of your week enough to claim that you’ve upheld that sacred commandment of God, to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy?
(How do I put this…?) No.
You may be remembering the Sabbath, by making your way (begrudgingly or happily or (as I think most people are) somewhere in between) but if this is all you do for the Sabbath, then you have not kept it holy.
This is not to seem Pharisaical, not a command to “keep to the letter of the law,” in fact it is quite the opposite. The letter of the law is the simple hour or so of your day. However, there is a spirit of this law which is lost completely if you come back from Mass and simply go about your day like it’s any other. When you catch yourself (or someone else catches you) giving in to the temptation of the stereotypical, bland, English, middle-class, Christianity, it’s time to seriously evaluate your faith. This sort of legalistic “doing what I have to” Christianity is the weak, soulless faith which the likes of Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Dostoevsky criticized so harshly. This is not the bold brew of the Christianity which is a sincere devotion to God, a loving relationship with the person of Jesus Christ, the loving servitude to the Church of God; instead it is a weak tea of social expectation and external “moral” obligation.
As someone who has also dealt with the temptation (and failed against it) to fall into this trap of laziness and legalism, I have no real place to judge. And I don’t judge (or at least I try not to). However, having dealt with it myself, perhaps it is possible that I may give some helpful advice for those who feel that they have let themselves fall into the snare of this malignant demon.
My advice is simple, and I will say it as simply as possible so that I may not be misunderstood.
When you get home from your Sunday or Holy day observance, don’t simply go about your day like it’s any other, instead:
THROW A BIG DAMN PARTY.
I’m dead serious.
Throw a party. As big of a party as you can. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Just invite family and friends, make food (make food, make lots and lots (HOLY CRAP! I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH, LOTS) of food), play some music, dance, since, play the piano, the guitar, whatever you know. Buy drinks, buy cigars, bake a cake. Festivities are different for every family, so do whatever you like. But above all, be festive and remember, you aren’t going to Mass to fulfill an obligation, but to celebrate the rising of Christ from the grave, to remember that day on which all of mankind was saved by the Resurrection of the Lord on the third day.