I invite you to take a walk down memory lane and think about how you spent the day twenty or thirty years back. What were some of your rituals and traditions? While some of you are not old enough yet to have established any solid traditions around Sunday and its spiritual implications, it is important for us older folk to reflect on the changing nature of this day.
Sunday, in my childhood, always had a different feel about it, a time for being a family and catching up with friends and relations. We did crazy things like staying until after the last hymn and even then stayed around to catch up with the old and meet the new parishioners. This is the custom that I grew up with and I suspect that peoples of other cultures had a similar ritual that made the day different. Most of us can recall the “solemn” lunch time roast – the main meal of the week when all gathered to be “home”. Not rushing off to work, sport, the beach or shopping. There is a clear impression these days that Sunday Mass is fitted in around other activities, not the other way around as it used be. Here in historic Ipswich where traditions have such an important role in family and social life, Sunday lunch was often the barbeque or picnic day essentially a time for being family around a special meal. Now it’s a case of ‘grab and go’.
How times have changed! One mum who has kept up the tradition of Sunday roast until recently, said that she would often notice that nobody else seemed to be going to any trouble, so, she eventually concluded, why should she! The issue here of course is not the demise of a Sunday type of meal, but the changing nature of the day Sunday. Once Sundays were not only where we learnt how to be one with God’s people, we discovered how to be family for and with each other.
This day has been set aside for appropriate worship of God and the much- needed rest and recreation that is vital for our well being. Our Christian tradition recognises it as the Lord’s Day, the most important day of the week and the highpoint of our liturgical celebrations. The Catholic tradition of the “Sunday obligation” reflects this importance and invites us to put this significant act of obligation into practice by participating in the celebration of the Eucharist. Not to keep God satisfied that we are honouring Him, but reminding ourselves of just how rich we are as a faith-filled community.
Since there appears to be little or no trading restrictions for retailers and places of hospitality these days and, since attendance at Mass seems to be for the holy few, then what makes this day special for you? The biggest issue here is: do we want Sunday to become just like any other day? Do we see it as important to mark certain days as special, different, or “holy”? If Sunday seems just like any other day then perhaps we will loose something from our society and our family life.
Is your family’s Sunday different, special, “holy”? Some simple changes could make a big difference. Try roasting something next Sunday and invite the family around.
Fr. Peter Dillon