Children imitate what they see. This is an unarguable fact. Likewise, an apprentice or intern learns from what he or she sees. Regardless of how much book knowledge or preparation one has, personal experience is the most reliable manner to transmit and to retain knowledge. Teachers know that repetition is key for students to learn. Lately, I have been watching several online videos and documentaries about orangutangs. The young ones learn behaviors by watching their mothers, and those either in captivity or in rescue facilities quickly pick up human behaviors through imitation.
When growing up, as the weekend approached, the question always asked at home was, “what Mass will we attend this weekend?” As I grew older however I learned that many families did not ask that question, but rather asked, “will we attend Mass this weekend?” I only recall one time missing Mass on Sunday, and it was due to the malfunction of the baler in the middle of baling hay at our farm, so we were unable to get back to Augusta from the farm for 6pm Sunday Mass at Saint Mary on the Hill.
The transmission of our faith from generation to generation depends on imitation. It is the example of parents attending Mass faithfully that teaches children the importance of keeping the Sabbath Holy. Teaching children to pray by example plants seeds that later grow strong. Parents deepening their faith allows them to answer the questions raised by their children. It is impossible to tell a young person that church and a relationship with Jesus are important if the adult counselling it does not reflect it by his or her example.
Keeping the Sabbath Holy has become more challenging today. In an ever more secularized world, Sunday has become one more day for work and shopping. There are sports, school activities, errands to run, and demands from work. Yet, the Word of God reminds us that “a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God. And whoever enters into God’s rest, rests from his own work as God did from his. Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest” (Hebrews 4: 9-11).
We cannot expect to win the race without training, or get good fruit from a bad tree. We strive to Keep the Sabbath Holy not only to glorify God but also to be restored ourselves. Sunday is a good day to visit family and friends, to organize a family activity, to do a service project with family members of friends, to minimize the use of technology or social media, to break the weekly routine by heading to a park, or to catch up on those things that linger over our heads and we never have time to complete. Most importantly, Sunday is a day to set aside time to worship God as a family and as a community. It is primarily by example that these habits and attitudes are transmitted from generation to the next. If we do not live this out, neither will our children, or our children’s children. Keeping the Sabbath Holy ensures fidelity to what Jesus has taught us and gives us a much needed weekly rest.
Picture from Public Domain.