Mortal Sin Against the Third Commandment
Remember to Keep Holy the Lord’s Day
What is the Lord’s Day? Catholics and most Christians celebrate our Liturgy on Sunday. If you are Catholic, you are able to attend a Vigil Mass (a Mass that occurs the evening before and counts towards the next day’s requirement).
The Jews used to be incredibly strict when it came to this commandment. Are you noticing a pattern? Jews would walk to Temple, they would not do any work, cooking was done the day before, in fact, everything was done the day before. You can not even tear toilet paper, as that is considered work. I am glad that the Catholic Church is much more lenient in this regard. As Jesus said when the Pharisees saw his disciples picking grain “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.” (Matthew 12:3-8).
We are required as Catholics to do only what we really need to do on Sundays. Any work that is beyond what we need done should be held off until Monday. There are some exceptions to this, which I will discuss below when I get to the example. What is nice is there are only a few things that are considered a mortal sin when it comes to this commandment. So, without further delay, let’s begin!
Missing Mass on Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation without serious reason
You MUST go to Mass every single week, whether it be Sunday or Saturday evening. Mass is the most important aspect of the Catholic faith, and it is important that we attend. Now, when you attend, that doesn’t mean that you need to receive the Eucharist. Receiving the Eucharist is not what counts our Mass attendance as being valid, but it is our physical presence that counts for our Mass attendance. Holy Days of Obligation are also required. They are called “obligation” for a reason, you are obligated to go. Vigil’s for these days also count, so no big deal if you have to go the evening before.
Now, what if you are sick or have been snow stormed in? Then, you are indeed not required to go to Mass. This is something you should discuss with your pastor about if you have a medical condition that would prohibit you from going on a regular basis, and sometimes your pastor will give you something (a rosary, scripture, the day’s Gospel, etc) to pray upon to become your obligation. But, if you have the stomach flu, on behalf of about 99% of Catholics who would probably agree, please stay home. I don’t want to catch it and you need your rest. Rest today for worship tomorrow.
Doing unnecessary work on Sunday
This is always an interesting one, just due to the entire definition of what is “unnecessary” referring to? I’ve always imagined that “unnecessary” is defined as doing work that is completely not needed to be done. I think this is a variable for each individual and is something that you will have to reflect and pray upon to determine what is necessary for you. Cooking food is something that even if you hate doing, you need to do in order to survive. I suppose if you hate it that much, you can always throw in a TV dinner or frozen pizza in the microwave or oven and be done with it. I for one, really enjoy doing yard work. I love being outside and I find it very relaxing for me. So, since it doesn’t feel like work, I would consider it not work. However, I do eventually get to a point where I get annoyed and don’t want to do it anymore because I’m getting tired. This is usually when I say, alright, this feels like work, I’m done.
I would also argue that sometimes the work just has to get done due to a deadline. I would say that if possible, this should be avoided, as in better time management, but there are circumstances where everything is outside of your control and you should plan better, but, again, this is something that you should probably decide. You also may enjoy it too.
Intentional Failure to fast or abstain on appointed days.
As Catholics, we are required to fast two days out of the year. This equates to 1/2% of the year. We are also required to abstain from meat only 7 or 8 days out of the year. This would equate to 2% of the time if you go with 8. Is it really that difficult to go without meat that 2% of the time? I’ve commented in my Lenten posts that when we fast and abstain we bring ourselves closer to God and we can offer up this suffering and unite it with Christ with His suffering on the cross.
For once, I’m going to call upon the Catechism to help me out here. If you don’t have a Catechism of the Catholic Church, buy one! They are very useful and full of all sorts of information on why Catholics believe what we believe.
Paragraph 2043 states that we as Catholics shall “observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church” ensures the times of ascetics and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.
Whoa! What’s that mean? In short, when we fast and/or abstain, we are offering up our suffering in the form of penance, which will end up allowing us to get ready for any feasts that are about to occur within the Church and on top of that, allow us to claim dominion over our bodily temptations. We control our bodies, not our bodies control us.
So, as Catholics we have to abstain from meat on all Fridays during Lent, as well as Ash Wednesday. We are to fast (2 small meals and 1 normal size meal) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. We are also to fast (NOT EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING (except water or medication that is necessary)) for ONE HOUR before receiving Communion. This includes no gum chewing during Mass. This is a big one, and it is easy to mess up on this one if you aren’t paying attention. One habit I have gotten into since becoming Catholic (partly because I misread the fast) is not eating or drinking anything one hour before Mass even starts! Now, you don’t need to do this, but in the old days of the Church, it was common not to eat anything starting at midnight. So, you couldn’t have food on Sunday morning until you went to Mass. Hence…breakfast…break the fast.
Requiring employees to work on Sunday in non-essential occupations
A few decades ago, probably more than a few by now, it was very common here in America that stores would be closed on Sundays. If you happen to run out of eggs or milk, you were out of luck, you’d have to ask your neighbor if you could borrow some. Today it is quite common that every single business is open. There really is no need for a lot of these businesses to be open either. We live in the 21st century and machines can process and handle most of the businesses that we have. Now, its important to realize that there are some essential occupations such as police, fire, doctors, nurses etc that should work on Sunday, because you can postpone emergencies. However, to require that you have your employees work at the department store or the mall on Sunday, is a bit absurd.
Now, we aren’t supposed to be doing “work” on Sunday’s unless we absolutely need to or if you happen to enjoy it. But, since we are actually working and making money in this case, that constitutes as work-work.
What if you have a weird schedule and you work a weird shift such as Sunday-Thursday? In this instance, you can treat one of the other days off as your Sunday. So, Friday can become your day when you stay at home and recuperate, or maybe Saturday would be better, and you could hit up the Vigil Mass to count for your Sunday obligation while you’re at it.
Depending on your business, you may have to have employees on staff because you have a business that REQUIRES it. In this case, do not force your employees to work Monday-Friday as well. Give them the opportunity so that they have a day off to count as their Sunday. We all need rest and when you work someone to the bone, they will not be happy employees and your business will suffer from it.
This post is one of many in a series on Mortal Sins. Click here for more posts explaining and defining mortal sins.