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The SABBATH under Crossfire #4

The Pope's Position on Sundaykeeping

                      THE SABBATH UNDER CROSSFIRE #4

Continued from previous page

(1) The moral obligation of Sunday observance
(2) The ecclesiastical enforcement of Sunday observance 
(3) The call for civil Sunday legislation

(1) The Moral Obligation of Sunday Observance

     For the Pope, Sunday observance is not an option but a moral
obligation which is well-defined both in the Catholic Catechism
and the Catholic Canon Law. We have seen that John Paul roots
such an obligation in the Sabbath commandment itself, because he
believes that Sunday is "inscribed" in the Decalogue and is the
fulfillment and full expression of the Sabbath. This means that
Sunday must be observed according to the directives of the
Sabbath commandment.
     John Paul writes: "It is the duty of Christians, therefore,
to remember that, although the practices of the Jewish Sabbath
are gone, surpassed as they are by the 'fulfillment' which Sunday
brings, the underlying reasons for keeping 'the Lord's Day' holy
- inscribed solemnly in the Ten Commandments - remain valid,
though they need to be reinterpreted in the light of the theology
and spirituality of Sunday." 71  The Pope continues quoting the
Deuteronomic version of the Sabbath commandment (Deut. 5:12-15).
The moral obligation to observe Sunday for the Pope is "inscribed
solemnly in the Ten Commandments" because, "more than a
'replacement' of the Sabbath, Sunday is its fulfillment, and in a
certain sense its extension and full expression in the ordered
unfolding of the history of salvation." 72  "From this
perspective," John Paul continues, "the biblical theology of the
'Sabbath' can be recovered in full, without compromising the
Christian character of Sunday." 73


     The Pope's attempt to ground the moral obligation of Sunday
observance in the Sabbath commandment is very ingenious, but, as
shown earlier, it lacks biblical and historical support. From a
biblical perspective, there are no indications in the New
Testament that Sunday was ever viewed as the "extension and full
expression" of the Sabbath. Similarly, from a historical
perspective, the Fathers emphasize the difference and not the
continuity between Sabbath and Sunday.
     The three major theological meanings of Sunday which I found
in the writings of the Fathers are as follows: (1) the
commemoration of the anniversary of creation, especially the
creation of light on the first day which was suggested by its
analogy to the Day of the Sun; (2) the commemoration of Christ's
Resurrection which eventually emerged as the fundamental reason
for Sundaykeeping; and (3) the cosmic and eschatological
speculations about the significance of the eighth day. An
extensive discussion of these theological reasons is found in
chapter 9 of my dissertation "From Sabbath to Sunday"
     Speculations about the eighth day abound in the Patristic
literature because they served to prove the superiority of Sunday
- as the eighth day, symbol of the eternal world - in contrast to
the Sabbath, as the seventh day, symbol of the terrestial
millennium. These speculations were repudiated in the fourth
century when the necessity to prove the superiority of Sunday
over the Sabbath subsided." 74
     A careful study of early Christian literature suggests that
Sunday arose, not as "the extension" of the Sabbath, but as its
replacement. The necessity which arose to separate from the Jews
and their Sabbath influenced Gentile Christians to adopt the
venerable day of the Sun, since it provided an adequate time and
symbolism to commemorate significant divine events which occurred
on that day, such as the creation of light and the Resurrection
of the Sun of Justice.
     The adoption of the Day of the Sun provoked a controversy
with those who maintained the continuity and inviolability of the
Sabbath. To silence such opposition, the symbolism of the first
and eighth day were introduced and widely used by the Fathers,
since they provided seemingly valuable apologetic arguments to
defend the superiority of Sunday. As the first day, Sunday could
allegedly claim superiority over the Sabbath, since it celebrated
the anniversary of both the first and the second creation which
was inaugurated by Christ's Resurrection. The seventh day, on the
other hand, could only claim to commemorate the completion of
creation. As the eighth day, Sunday could claim to be the alleged
continuation, and supplantation of the Sabbath, both temporally
and eschatologically. 75
     The polemic nature of the theological arguments developed by
the Fathers to justify Sunday observance do not support the claim
of the Pastoral Letter that Sunday was seen by the primitive
Church as "the extension and full expression" of the Sabbath. The
historical reality is that the Fathers emphasized the distinction
between Sabbath and Sunday by making the Sabbath a Jewish
institution terminated by Christ.
     In the light of these considerations, the Pope's attempt to
ground the moral obligation of Sunday observance on the Sabbath
commandment must be viewed as a well-meaning but misinformed
endeavor, because theologically, historically, and existentially,
Sunday has never been the Sabbath.

(2) The Ecclesiastical Enforcement of Sunday Observance

     In his Pastoral Letter, Pope John Paul emphasizes not only
the moral obligation of Sunday observance, but also the
responsibility of the Catholic Church to ensure that her members
respect such an obligation. This concept is foreign to most
Protestants who view going to church on Sunday as a good
practice, but not as a church law. Protestant churches do not
condemn the failure to attend Sunday services as a serious sin.
By contrast, the Catholic Church views the deliberate failure to
attend Sunday Mass as a grave sin.
     It is important to understand the Catholic view of the
obligatory nature of attending Sunday Mass in order to comprehend
why the Catholic Church enforces such practice within the church
by means of Canon Law, and why it also urges civil governments to
pass civil Sunday legislation that respects the duty of Catholics
to fulfill their worship obligations. The connection between the
two is discussed below.

     Historically, enforcement of Sunday worship within the
Catholic Church began in the fourth century. The protection
provided by the Constantinian Sunday Law (A.D.321) tempted many
Christians to become negligent about attending Sunday Mass.
To remedy this problem, as John Paul explains, "The Church had to
make explicit the duty to attend Sunday Mass: more often than
not, this was done in the form of exhortation, but at times the
Church had to resort to specific canonical precepts. This was the
case in a number of local Councils from the fourth century
onwards (as at the Council of Elvira of 300, which speaks not of
an obligation but of penalties after three absences) and most
especially from the sixth century onwards (as at the Council of
Agde in 506). These decrees of local Councils led to a universal
practice, the obligatory character of which was taken as
something quite normal." 76
     The obligation to attend Sunday Mass was eventually made
"into a universal law" in 1917. Such law was incorporated into
the Catholic "Canon Law," that is, the law that governs the
Catholic religious life. The Pope notes that "this legislation
has normally been understood as entailing a grave obligation:
this is the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and
it is easy to understand why if we keep in mind how vital Sunday
is for the Christian life." 77
     Indeed, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is most
emphatic about the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, saying that
"the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass." 78  While
Protestant churches encourage their members to attend Sunday
services, the Catholic Church obliges their members to attend
Sunday Mass. The reason is that for Catholics "The Sunday
Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian
practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate
in the Eucharist on days of obligation .... Those who
deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin." 79
     John Paul explains that "because the faithful are obliged to
attend Mass unless there is a grave impediment, Pastors have the
corresponding duty to offer to everyone the real possibility of
fulfilling the [Mass] precept." 80  To meet this need, Catholic
Church law has made provision for the celebration of several
Masses on Sunday as well as special Masses on Saturday evening
for those who cannot make it to church on Sunday. 81

Is the Lord's Supper a Sacrifice? 

     The fundamental problem with the obligatory nature of Sunday
Mass which the Pope reiterates in his Pastoral Letter is that it
stems not from the Sabbath Commandment nor from the New Testament
teaching regarding the Lord's Supper. It is rather from the
Catholic dogma of transubstantiation which views the Lord's
Supper as a reenactment of Christ's sacrifice.
     Pope John Paul clearly states: "The Mass in fact truly makes
present the sacrifice of the Cross. Under the species of the
bread and wine ... Christ offers himself to the Father in the
same act of sacrifice by which He offered Himself on the Cross."
82  This dogmatic teaching is affirmed in the Catechism of the
Catholic Church: "The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of
the Eucharist are one single sacrifice. The victim is one and the
same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who
then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of the
offering is different. In the divine sacrifice which is
celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once
in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is
offered in an unbloody manner." 83
     It is this view of the Mass as a re-enactment of Christ's
atoning sacrifice before God and on behalf of the faithful that
makes attendance to the Sunday Mass "a grave obligation." By
participating in the Mass, Catholics are promised the immediate
benefits of Christ's sacrifice which is re-enacted on their
behalf before their eyes. 84

Sacrifices and the Sabbath Commandment. 

     This sacrificial and sacramental view of the Lord's Supper
is foreign to the New Testament and to the intent of the Sabbath
commandment. In ancient Israel sacrificial offerings took place
at the Temple on the Sabbath (Num. 28:9-10), but Sabbath
observance did not entail participating in the sacrificial
rituals of the Tabernacle or of the Temple.
     Pope John Paul and the Catholic dogma ignore that the
essence of the Sabbath commandment is not participating in a
sacrificial liturgy but is consecrating the Sabbath time to God.
     The Sabbath commandment invites us to offer to God not
sacrifices, but our time, which for many is the most precious
commodity to sacrifice. By giving priority to God in our thinking
and living on the Sabbath, we show in a tangible way that God
really counts in our lives.
     Jesus or His followers did not go to the Temple on the
Sabbath to watch the priestly sacrificial liturgy. Instead, they
went to the synagogue to participate in the study of Scripture,
to pray, and to sing praises to God.
     By making the Eucharistic (Lord's Supper) celebration the
core of Sunday observance, the Catholic Church has facilitated
the secularization of Sunday. The reason is that many sincere
Catholics believe that once they have fulfilled "the Mass
precept," they are free to spend the rest of their Sunday time as
they wish. For the Pope to reverse this trend at this time is a
monumental task, especially since people today want holidays
rather than Holy Days.

The Nature and Time of the Lord's Supper. 

     The Catholic "sacrificial" view of the Lord's Supper as a
re-enactment of Christ's sacrifice is foreign to the teaching of
the New Testament. There is no need to repeat Christ's atoning
sacrifice because "he always lives to make intercession" for us
(Heb. 7:25). "Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with
hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to
appear in the presence of God on our behalf (Heb. 9:24). Hebrews
continues noting that Christ does not need "to offer himself
repeatedly" (Heb. 9:25), as the Catholic Mass attempts to do,
because He has "offered [Himself] once to bear the sins of many"
(Heb. 9:28).
     Paul understood the Lord's Supper to be a "proclamation,"
not a re-enactment of Christ's death. "For as often as you eat
this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until
he comes" (1 Cor. 11:26). The verb "proclaim--katangellein" is
used in the New Testament for heralding the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:14)
and for making known one's faith (Rom. 1:8). This suggests that
the celebration of the Lord's Supper is a proclamation of the
Gospel directed manward, not are-enactment of Christ's sacrifice
directed Godward, as taught by the Catholic church.
     The Pope's contention that "the Eucharist is the heart of
Sunday" 85 cannot be supported by the witness of the New
Testament. Paul, who claims to transmit what he "received from
the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:23) regarding the Lord's Supper, nowhere
suggests that it should be celebrated on Sunday as the core of
the Sunday worship. The Apostle takes pains to instruct the
Corinthians concerning the manner of celebrating the Lord's
Supper, but on the question of the time of the assembly no less
than four times he repeats in the same chapter, "when you come
together--sunerkomenon" (1 Cor. 11:18,20,33,34), thus implying
indeterminate times and days.
     If the Lord's Supper was indeed celebrated on Sunday, Paul
could hardly have failed to mention it at least once, since four
times he refers to the coming together for its celebration.
Furthermore, if Sunday was already regarded as the "Lord's day,"
Paul could have strengthened his plea for a more worshipful
attitude during the partaking of the Lord's Supper by reminding
the Corinthians of the sacred nature of the Lord's Day in which
they met. But, though Paul was familiar with the adjective
"Lord's--kuriakos" (since he uses it in v.20 to designate the
nature of the supper), he did not apply it to Sunday, which in
the same epistle he calls by the Jewish designation "first day of
the week" (1 Cor. 16:2).

     The preceding observations have served to highlight three
major flaws in the arguments of the Pastoral Letter regarding the
enforcement of Sunday worship. 
     First, John Paul wants to ground Sunday observance in the
Sabbath commandment in spite of the fact that the essence of
Sabbathkeeping is not participation in sacrificial rituals but
the consecration of time to God.
     Second, John Paul contends that the Eucharistic (Lord's
Supper) celebration is the heart of Sunday worship in spite of
the fact that the Lord's Supper was not associated with Sunday or
Sabbath worship in the Apostolic Church.
     Third, John Paul maintains that the Lord's Supper is a
sacrifice in which Christ offers Himself anew to the Father on
behalf of the faithful in spite of the fact that the New
Testament describes it as a "proclamation," not a re-enactment of
Christ's death.
     What this means is that the authority of the Catholic Church
to enforce the obligation to attend Sunday Mass derives not from
biblical precepts or examples but from ecclesiastical traditions.
The questionable and inconsistent nature of church traditions
hardly provides compelling moral reasons for persuading
Christians today to observe Sunday as the biblical Holy Sabbath

(3) The Call for Civil Sunday Legislation

     In his Pastoral Letter, Pope John Paul call upon Christians
to "strive to ensure that civil legislation respects their duty
to keep Sunday holy." 86  Such a call stems from the belief that
participation in the Sunday Mass is not an option, but a grave
obligation that can only be freely fulfilled if the State
guarantees to all the right to rest on Sunday.

Importance of Civil Sunday Legislation. 

     John Paul rightly notes that prior to the Sunday Law
promulgated by Constantine in A.D.321, Sunday observance was not
protected by civil legislation. 87  This meant that "Christians
observed Sunday simply as a day of worship, without being able to
give it the specific meaning of Sabbath rest." 88 In many cases,
Christians would attend an early Sunday morning service and then
spend the rest of the day working at their various occupations.
The Constantinian Sunday Law changed the situation dramatically.
As the Pope points out, "Christians rejoiced to see thus removed
the obstacles which until then had sometimes made the observance
of the Lord's Day heroic." 89  What Constantine did in making
Sunday a legal holiday for the empire was not "a mere historical
circumstance with no special significance for the church," but a
providential intervention that made it possible for Christians to
observe Sunday "without hinderance." 9o
     To highlight the importance of civil legislation that
guarantees Sunday rest, the Pope points to the fact that "even
after the fall of the Empire, the Councils did not cease to
insist upon arrangements [civil legislation] regarding Sunday
rest." 91  In the light of the fact that in the past most
countries have maintained Sunday laws to permit Christians to
observe Sunday, the Pope call for civil legislation that respects
the Christian "duty to keep Sunday holy." 92
     To emphasize the need for civil legislation that guarantees
Sunday rest, the Pope points to the "Encyclical Rerum Novarum"
(1891) where Pope Leo XII speaks of "Sunday rest as a worker's
right which the State must guarantee." 93  The Pontiff notes that
Sunday legislation is especially needed today, in view of the
physical, social, and ecological problems created by
technological and industrial advancements. "Therefore," the
Pope concludes, "in the particular circumstances of our time,
Christians will naturally strive to ensure that civil legislation
respects their duty to keep Sunday holy." 94
     The same view is explicitly expressed in the new Catechism
of the Catholic Church: "In spite of economic constraints, public
authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and
divine worship ... In respecting religious liberty and the common
good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sunday and the
Church's holy days as legal holidays."" 95  It is evident that
the Catholic Church is committed to ensure that civil legislation
protects their rights to observe Sunday and the holy days.

The Constitutionality of Sunday Laws. 

     The Pope is well aware that in many countries, like the
United States, there is a separation between Church and State.
This means that if Sunday Laws are perceived to be "advancing
religion," they would be declared to be unconstitutional under
the First Amendment. Thus, the Pope's strategy is to downplay the
religious aspect of Sunday Laws, highlighting instead the social,
cultural, and family values. For example, John Paul says:

     "Through Sunday rest, daily concerns and tasks can find
     their proper perspectives: the material things about which
     we worry give way to spiritual values; in a moment of
     encounter and less pressured exchange, we see the face of
     the people with whom we live. Even the beauties of nature -
     too often marred by the desire to exploit, which turns
     against man himself - can be rediscovered and enjoyed to the
     full." 96

     By emphasizing the human and "secular" benefits and values
of Sunday Laws, John Paul knows that he can gain greater
international acceptance for such legislation. It is worth noting
in this regard the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McGowan v.
Maryland, 366 U.S. 420 (1961) that upheld Maryland's Sunday
Closing Laws as not violative of the Federal Constitution. The
reason the Court justified the state's interest in protecting a
common day of Sunday rest is that Sunday has become secularized
in the American society. The Court said: "We believe that the air
of the day is one of relaxation rather than religion." 97
     The recognition of this reality leads Attorney Michael
Woodruff to write as follows in "Sunday"magazine of the Lord's
Day Alliance: "If we must justify the retention of the Lord's Day
as a secular day of rest, we must find compelling secular grounds
to make it so ... If Courts view Sunday laws as having the direct
effect of 'advancing religion,' then under current First
Amendment doctrine, such laws must be unconstitutional. However,
if the laws are generally applicable and have a religion-neutral
purpose, then the effect is likely to be seen incidental. To this
end, the distinction between religious practice and the form of
laws is important." 98
     The Pope is well aware of the need to maintain this
distinction. Thus in his Pastoral Letter, he appeals to the
social and human values that Sunday Laws guarantee and promote.
He writes: 

     "In our historical context there remains the obligation [of
     the state] to ensure that everyone can enjoy the freedom,
     rest and relaxation which human dignity requires, together
     with the associated religious, family, cultural and
     interpersonal needs which are difficult to meet if there is
     no guarantee of at least one day a week on which people can
     both rest and celebrate." 99

The Influence of the Pastoral Letter. 

     At this juncture, we may ask: How much influence will the
Pastoral Letter exercise in the international community of
nations in promoting Sunday civil legislation? The answer to this
question largely depends upon the Pope's determination to pursue
the enforcement of Sunday observance inside and outside the
Catholic Church.
     At this point, the indications are that John Paul is deeply
committed to bringing about a renewal and revival of Sunday
observance by ensuring that civil legislation facilitates the
obligation to keep Sunday holy. While in Rome last October
(1998), I contacted the "Sala Stampa - the Press Office" of the
Vatican to learn if the Pope has been pursuing further the call
of his Pastoral Letter for a revival of Sundaykeeping. The Office
informed me that there is no doubt that the Pope is serious about
it. One indication is that during the three months following the
release of the Pastoral Letter, in his Sunday address before
reciting the "Angelus," John Paul has consistently appealed to
the faithful "to rediscover the importance of Sunday." 100

     The influence of the Holy See on the international community
must not be underestimated. It is reported that when confronted
by Pope Pious XII's opposition, Stalin smirked, "How many
divisions does the Pope have?" If Stalin were to come out of his
grave, he would be shocked to discover that the communist regime
that he established with so much bloodshed has collapsed due, in
no small degree, to the influence of the man who commands no
military divisions.

     In evaluating John Paul's role in helping to bring about the
fall of totalitarian regimes, Gorbachev said in 1992: "Everything
that happened in Eastern Europe during these past few years would
have been impossible without the Pope, without the political role
he was able to play.

     A major goal of John Paul's global vision is to protect and
defend the rights of the Catholic Church to carry out her mission
unhindered. In a speech entitled "The Vatican's Role in World
Affairs: The Diplomacy of Pope John Paul II," J. Michael Miller,
CSB, President of the University of St.Thomas and former employee
of the Secretariat of State of the Holy See (1992-1997), stated:

"The driving force behind John Paul's diplomatic initiatives is
the defense of human rights, especially religious freedom, which
allows the Church to carry out its mission in peace ... John Paul
does have what we might call an 'agenda' for world affairs which
he works systematically to promote through his preaching, his
speeches to political leaders, his major writings, his endless
globetrotting - which does not avoid trouble spots." 102

     The influence of the Pope in the international arena is far
greater than many realize. It is important to clarify that it is
not the Vatican as a State that participates in international
affairs, but the Holy See. The latter is not a territorial State,
but a moral and juridical society, governed by the Pope, and
representative of the Catholic Church in the community of
nations. At present the Holy See maintains full diplomatic
relations with over 160 nations. It receives and sends
ambassadors all over the world.
     It has signed formal agreements with sovereign nations. It
participates in dozens of international organizations concerned
with moral, social, humanitarian, and cultural affairs.
The goals of John Paul, as Michael Miller rightly points out,
"are, admittedly, a mixture of the religious and the more
narrowly political. John Paul, however, is not constrained by
American ideas of the separation of church and State, but pursues
what he regards as the common good of all humanity." 103

     This mixture of religious and political goals can be
detected in reading the Pastoral Letter where John Paul calls for
Sunday rest as a religious and social necessity. For example, he
writes: "The link between the Lord's Day and the day of rest in
civil society has meaning and importance which go beyond the
distinctly Christian point of view." 104  By calling for a civil
Sunday legislation on the basis of the common good of all
humanity, John Paul can gain considerable support for his agenda
from the international community of nations.

Pluralistic Society. 

     In evaluating John Paul's call for a Sunday Rest
legislation, one must distinguish between his legitimate concern
for the social, cultural, ecological, and religious well-being of
our society, and the hardship such legislation causes to
minorities who for religious or personal reasons choose to rest
and worship on Saturday or on other days of the week.
     To call upon Christians to "strive to ensure that civil
legislation respects their duty to keep Sunday holy" 105  means
to ignore that we live today in a pluralistic society where there
are, for example, Christians and Jews who observe the seventh-day
Sabbath as their Holy Day, and Moslims who may wish to observe
their Friday.
     If Sundaykeepers expect the State to make Sunday a legal
holiday to facilitate their Sunday rest and worship, then
Sabbatarians have an equal right to expect the State to make
Saturday a legal holiday to protect their Sabbath rest and
worship. To be fair to the various religious and nonreligious
groups, the State would then have to pass legislation
guaranteeing special days of rest and worship to different groups
of people. The implementation of such a plan is inconceivable
because it would disrupt our socio-economic structure.

Sunday Laws Not Needed. 

     Sunday Laws, known as "Blue Laws," are still in the books of
some American States and represent an unpleasant legacy of an
intolerant past. Such laws have proven to be a failure,
especially because their hidden intent was religious, namely, to
foster Sunday observance. People resent any attempt by the State
to force religious practices upon them. This is a fundamental
principle of the First Amendment to the American Constitution,
that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
     Sunday legislation is superfluous today because the
short-work week, with a long weekend of two or even three days,
already makes it possible for most people to observe their
Sabbath or Sunday. However, problems still do exist, especially
when an employer is unwilling to accommodate the religious
convictions of a worker. The solution to such problems is not to
be sought in Sunday or Saturday Laws, but in such legislation as
the pending "Religious Freedom in the Workplace Act." This bill
is designed to encourage employers to accommodate the religious
convictions of their workers when these do not cause undue
hardship to their company.
     The Pope's call for Sunday Rest legislation ignores the fact
that Sunday Laws have not resolved the crisis of diminishing
church attendance. In most European countries, Sunday Laws have
been in effect for many years. On Sunday most of the business
establishments are shut down. Even most gasoline stations are
closed on Sunday - a fact that can be costly to uninformed
American tourists. But, have Sunday Laws facilitated church
attendance? Absolutely not! The truth of the matter is that
church attendance in Western Europe is considerably lower than
that in the United States, running at less than 10% of the
Christian population. In Italy, where I come from, it is
estimated that 95% of the Catholics go to church three times in
their lives, when they are "hatched, matched, and dispatched."
     The moral and religious decline in our society is not due to
lack of legislation but to lack of moral convictions to compel
people to live according to the principles God has revealed. The
Church should not seek to solve the crisis of diminishing church
attendance by external legislation but by the internal moral and
spiritual renovation of its members. What many Christians need to
discover today is that Christianity is not a cultural heritage
that entails going to church from time to time but a commitment
to Christ. This commitment is expressed in a special way on the
Sabbath day when we stop our work in order to allow our Savior to
work more fully and freely in our lives.


     Pope John Paul has legitimate reasons for making a
passionate plea for a revival of Sunday observance at a time when
church attendance is dwindling at an alarming rate. He
understands that if Christians ignore the Lord on the day they
call the "Lord's Day," ultimately they will ignore God every day
of their lives. This trend, if not reversed, can spell doom to
     The solution to the crisis of declining church attendance
must be sought, however, not by calling upon the international
community of nations to make Sunday and the Catholic Holy Days
civil holidays, but by summoning Christians to live according to
the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.

     The Fourth Commandment specifically calls upon believers to
"Remember" what many have forgotten, namely, that the seventh day
is holy unto the Lord our God (Ex. 20:8-11). John Paul rightly
acknowledges that "The Sabbath precept ... is rooted in the
depths of God's plan" 106  and is "a kind of 'sacred
architecture' of time which marks biblical revelation. 107  He
notes also that "When the divine commandment declares: 'Remember
the Sabbath day in order to keep it holy' (Ex. 20:8), the rest
decreed in order to honor the day dedicated to God is not all a
burden imposed upon man, but rather an aid to help him recognize
his life-giving and liberating dependence upon the Creator, and
at the same time his calling to cooperate in the Creator's work
and to receive his grace." 108

     My appeal to Pope John Paul is to use the far-reaching
influence of his office to help Christians everywhere rediscover
the Sabbath, as he puts it, not as a burden, but as an "aid"
designed to help them recognize their "life-giving and liberating
dependence upon the[ir] Creator." 108  This vital function of the
Sabbath has long been forgotten by most Christians who have been
taught through the centuries that the Sabbath is Jewish,
fulfilled by Christ, and no longer binding upon Christians. This
heresy has deprived a countless number of Christians of the
physical, moral, and spiritual renewal provided by a proper
observance of the Sabbath.

     Our tension-filled and restless society needs to rediscover
the Sabbath as that "sacred architecture of time," which can give
structure and stability to our lives and relationship with God.
At a time when many are seeking for inner peace and rest through
magic pills or fabulous places, the Sabbath invites us to find
such inner rest and renewal, not through pills or places, but
through the Person of our Saviour who says: "Come unto me, and I
will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). It invites us to stop our work
on the Sabbath in order to allow our Savior to work more freely
and fully in our lives and thus experience the awareness of His
presence, peace, and rest.



     1. Dies Domini, paragraph 3. 
     2. Dies Domini, paragraph 5. 
     3. Dies Domini, paragraph 30.
     4. Quoted by R. H. Martin, "The Day: A Manual on the
Christian Sabbath" (New York, 1933), p.184.
     5. Dies Domini, paragraph 4. 
     6. Dies Domini, paragraph 4. 
     7. Dies Domini, paragraph 6. 
     8. Dies Domini, p"Summa Theologica" (New York, 1947), II, 0,
122 Art. 4, p.1702.
     10. Vincent J. Kelly, "Forbidden Sunday and Feast-Day
Occupations," (Washington, DC, Catholic University of America
Press, 1943), p.2; Pope John XXIII "Mater et Magistra," trans.
William J. Gibbons, (New York, 1961), p.76, notes: "The Catholic
Church has decreed for many centuries that Christians observe
this day of rest on Sunday, and that they be present on the same
day at the Eucharist Sacrifice." John Gilmary Shea, "The
Observance of Sunday and Civil Laws for Its Enforcement," "The
American Catholic Quarterly Review" 8 (Jan. 1883), p.139, writes:
"The Sunday, as a day of the week set apart for obligatory public
worship of Almighty God, to be sanctified by a suspension of all
servile labor, trade, and worldly avocations and by exercises of
devotion, is purely a creation of the Catholic Church." Martin J.
Scott, "Things Catholics Are Asked About" (New York, 1927), p.
136, adds: "Now the Church ... instituted, by God's authority,
Sunday as the day of worship."
     11. Catechism of the Catholic Church (Vatican City, 1994),
     12. Dies Domini, paragraph 8.
     13. Dies Domini, paragraph 11.
     14. Samuele Bacchiocchi, "Divine Rest for Human
Restlessness" (Rome, Italy, 1980), p.67.
     15. Dies Domini, paragraph 12. 
     16. Dies Domini, paragraph 15. 
     17. Dies Domini, paragraph 13. 
     18. Dies Domini, paragraph 15. 
     19. Dies Domini, paragraph 14. 
     20. Dies Domini, paragraph 17. 
     21. Dies Domini, paragraph 59.
     22. Dies Domini, paragraph 18.
     23. For a discussion of the theology of Sunday as developed
in the early Christian literature, see Chapter 9 "The Theology of
Sunday" of my dissertation "From Sabbath to Sunday. A Historical
Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early
Christianity" (Rome, Italy, 1977), pp.270-302.
     24. Dies Domini, paragraph 32. Cited from Catechism of the
Catholic Church (note 11), p.525, paragraph 2177. On paragraph 46
of Dies Domini, John Paul states: "Since the Eucharist is the
very heart of Sunday, it is clear why, from the earliest
centuries, the Pastors of the church have not ceased to remind
the faithful of the need to take part in the liturgical
     25. Christopher Kiesling expresses this view in his book
"The Future of the Christian Sunday" (New York, 1970).
     26. Dies Domini, paragraph 20. 
     27. Dies Domini, paragraph 21. 
     28. Dies Domini, paragraph 28. 
     29. Dies Domini, paragraph 18. 
     30. Dies Domini, paragraph 19. 
     31. Dies Domini, paragraph 20.
     32. Corrado S. Mosna, "Storia della Domenica dalle origini
fino agli Inizi del V Secolo" (Rome, Italy, 1969), p.44.
     33. Jean Danielou, "The Bible and Liturgy" (South Bend,
Indiana, 1956), p.242.
     34. Paul K. Jewett, "The Lord's Day: A Theological Guide to
the Christian Day of Worship" (Grand Rapids, 1972), p.57.
Pacifico Massi states categorically: "The Resurrection is the
only plausible explanation for the origin of Sunday" (La Domenica
nella Storia della Salvezza [Napoli,1967], p.43). F. A. Regan
affirms: "From the study of the above texts one may reasonably
conclude that during the earliest days of the Church there was
only one liturgical feast and this feast was the weekly
commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ" ("Dies Dominica and
Dies Solis: The Beginning of the Lord's Day in Christian
Antiquity," Doctoral dissertation, The Catholic University of
America [Washington, DC, 1961 ], p.191). See also Josef A.
Jungmann, "The Early Liturgy to the Time of Gregory the Great"
(South Bend, Indiana, 1959), pp.19-21; also "The Mass of the
Roman Rite, Its Origin and Development" (New York, 1951), vol. 1,
p.15; Y. B. Tremel, "Du Sabbat au Jour du Seigneur," Lumiere et
Vie (1962), p.441.
     35. The Resurrection of Christ is presented in the New
Testament as the essence of the apostolic proclamation, faith,
and hope. See, for example, Acts 1:22; 2:31; 3:75; 4:2,10,33;
5:30; 10:40; 13:33-37; 17:18,32; 24:15,21; 26:8; 1 Cor 15:11-21;
Rom 10:9; 1:1-4; 8:31-34; 14:9; 1 Thess 1:9-10.
     36. Harold Riesenfeld, "The Sabbath and the Lord's Day," The
Gospel Tradition: Essays by H. Riesenfeld (Oxford, 1970), p.124.
     37. Harold Riesenfeld, "Sabbat et Jour du Seigneur," in A.
J. B. Higgins, ed., N.T. Essays: Studies in Memory of T. W.
Manson (Manchester, 1959), p.212. For examples of the use of the
phrase "Day of the Resurrection" for Sunday, see, Eusebius of
Caesarea, Commentary on Psalm 91, Patrologia Graeca 23, 1168;
Apostolic Constitutions 2,59, 3. 
     38. S. V. McCasland, "The Origin of the Lord's Day," Journal
of Biblical Literature 49 (1930), p. 69. Similarly, Paul Cotton
affirms: "There is nothing in the idea of the Resurrection that
would necessarily produce the observance of Sunday as a Day of
Worship" (From Sabbath to Sunday [Bethlehem, PA, 1933], p.79).
     39. Dies Domini, paragraph 19.
     40. Joachim Jeremias, "Pasha," Theological Dictionary of the
New Testament, Gerhard Friedrich, ed., (Grand Rapids, 1968), vol.
5, p.903, note 64.
     41. J. B. Lightfoot, "The Apostolic Father" (London, 1885),
vol. 2, p.88.
     42. For a discussion of the Passover controversy and its
implications for the origin of Sunday observance, see my
dissertation "From Sabbath to Sunday" (note 23), pp.198-207.
     43. Dies Domini, paragraph 20. 44. Ibid.
     45. Johannes Behm, "Klao," Theological Dictionary of the New
Testament, Gerhard Kittel, ed., (Grand Rapids, 1974), vol. 3, p.
     46. S. V McCasland (note 38), p.69.
     47. Dies Domini, paragraph 24.
     48. See "From Sabbath to Sunday" (note 23), pp.178-182.
     49. Justin Martyr, Apology 67, 7, The Ante-Nicene Fathers,
Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. (Grand Rapids, 1973),
vol. 1, p.186.
     50. Jean Danielou (note 33), pp.253,255.
     51. Jerome, In die dominica Paschae homilia, Corpus
Christianorum Series Latina 78, 550, 1, 52.
     52. For a discussion of the development of Sun-worship and
of the advancement of "the Day of Sun" in ancient Rome, see my
dissertation "From Sabbath to Sunday" (note 23), pp.238-262.
     53. Dies Domini, paragraph 27.
     54. Philaster, Liber de haeresibus 113, PL 12, 1257.
     55. Priscillian, Tractatus undecim, CSEL 18, p.14. See also,
Martin of Braga, De correctione rusticorum ed. C. W. Barlow (New
York, 1950), p.189; Augustin, In Psalmos 61, 23, CCL 39, p.792.
56. Augustine, City of God 22, 30, Vernon J. Bourke, ed., (New
York, 1958), p.544.
     57. Dies Domini, paragraph 21.
     58. See "From Sabbath to Sunday" (note 23), pp.90-94. 
     59. Dies Domini, paragraph 21.
     60. Dies Domini, paragraph 70.l
     61. See "From Sabbath to Sunday" (note 23), pp.90-94. 
     62. Corrado S. Mosna (note 32), p.7.
     63. Dies Domini, paragraph 21.
     64. F. F. Bruce, "Commentary on the Book of the Acts" (Grand
Rapids, 1954), pp.407-408.
     65. P K. Jewett (note 34), p.61.
     66. F. J. Foakes-Jackson, "The Acts of the Apostles" (New
York, 1945), p.187.
     67. Dies Domini, paragraph 21.
     68. Corrado S. Mosna (note 32), p.21.
     69. For texts and discussion of the Easter controversy, see
"From Sabbath to Sunday" (note 23), pp.198-207.
     70. Jean Danielou, "The First Six Hundred Years" (New York,
1964), vol. 1, p.74.
     71. Dies Domini, paragraph 62. 
     72. Dies Domini, paragraph 59. 
     73. Dies Domini, paragraph 60.
     74. For texts and discussion, see "From Sabbath to Sunday"
(note 23), pp.278-301.
     75. For texts and discussion of the controversy surrounding
the abandonment of the Sabbath and the adoption of Sunday, see
"From Sabbath to Sunday" (note 23), pp.213-269.
     76. Dies Domini, paragraph 47. 
     77. Ibid., emphasis supplied.
     78. Catechism of the Catholic Church (note 11), p.526,
paragraph 2180. Emphasis supplied.
     79. Ibid., p.527, paragraph 2181. Emphasis supplied. 
     80. Dies Domini, paragraph 49. Emphasis supplied. 
     81. Ibid.
     82. Dies Domini, paragraph 43.
     83. Catechism of the Catholic Church (note 11), p.344,
paragraph 1367. Emphasis supplied.
     84. Ibid., paragraph 1366.
     85. Dies Domini, paragraph 52. 
     86. Dies Domini, paragraph 67. 
     87. Dies Domini, paragraph 64. 
     88. Ibid.
     89. Ibid. 
     90. Ibid. 
     91. Ibid. 
     92. Dies Domini, paragraph 67. 
     93. IDies Domini, paragraph 66. 
     94. Dies Domini, paragraph 67.
     95. Catechism of the Catholic Church (note 11), p.528,
paragraphs 2187-2188.
     96. Dies Domini, paragraph 67.
     97. Cited by Michael J. Woodruff, "The Constitutionality of
Sunday Laws," Sunday 79 (January-April 1991), p.9.
     98. Ibid., pp.21-22.
     99. Dies Domini, paragraph 66.
     100. "Sunday Is Christ's Day, Commemorating His
Resurrection," New release, Vatican City, July 26, 1998.
     101. Cited in Jonathan Kwitny, "Man of the Century" (New
York, 1997), p.592.
     102. J. Michael Miller, "The Vatican's Role in World
Affairs. The Diplomacy of Pope John Paul II," Speech delivered in
the Fall of 1997 at the University of St. Thomas in Houston,
     103. Ibid.
     104. Dies Domini, paragraph 65. 
     105. Dies Domini, paragraph 67. 
     106. Dies Domini, paragraph 13. 
     107. Dies Domini, paragraph 15. 
     108. Dies Domini, paragraph 61. 
     109. Ibid.


To be continued

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