From Msgr. Guardini’s The Art of Praying:
God’s rest, not man’s rest, is the meaning of Sunday, and from the former the latter derives its justification. Man must open himself to this significance. To the myster of God’s rest another mystery is added: the Resurrection of Christ. It crowns the meaning of the Lord’s day with the victory of redemption and the victory over death. The light of the Resurrection fills Easter Sunday and from there is shed onto every Sunday of the year.
Sunday, therefore, is the day of God and, for this very reason, the day of man. …
It is not easy to say how this day may be restored to its proper status in an age which has lost the feeling of its true significance. Here is a task which concerns everyone: to reinstate Sunday earnestly, yet without narrow-mindedness or compulsion, as a day of homage to the Creator and Redeemer of the World and at the same time as a day of rejoicing before the eyes of God. This is a task which must be tackled, not from without, but from within: by allowing the mind to dwell upon the mystery of this day and trying to comprehend how intimate are its links with our natural and spiritual life, by opening ourselves to its beauty and asking what can be done to give it its proper place in our own personal lives and in the life of the family. …
… The day begins with the awakening; the quality of the awakening will depend on the quality of sleep which preceded it. The sleep, however, is determined by what immediately precedes it. If, therefore, we want to approach Sunday in the right frame of mind, we must begin to prepare ourselves on Saturday evening.
Msgr. already saw in his time that Sunday was losing all meaning. It certainly has today. I do think that many Catholics, and probably other Christians as well, have the sense that we are missing something. I think many want to restore Sunday.
I think the key, as Msgr. suggests, is to go about it positively, rather than negatively. All my life, I’ve heard things like, “No, we can’t do X, it’s Sunday.” “Behave, it’s Sunday.” “No, they’re closed, it’s Sunday.” “You can’t buy liquor, it’s Sunday.” All of which have left me cross and resentful at times, because there was never really any explanation of why Sunday is so special and important! Only now that I’ve returned to the full splendor and glory and richness of Catholicism do I realize, understand, and cherish what is so special about Sunday.
Since then, I have found Sunday to have a special beauty and radiance about it. I have come to see Easter Sunday in every Sunday, just as I have come to see Good Friday in every Friday. I think the Church should re-emphasize that each Friday is to be a day of penance and each Sunday a day of rejoicing.
On an individual and family level, of course, meals have always been a great and effective way to acknowledge the special character of these days: abstaining from meat (or other beloved food) on Fridays and pulling out the stops for Sunday dinners. Both practices seem to have all but vanished from our culture. I personally try to keep them up as best as I can; Fridays are pretty easy to manage, but Sunday dinners are a little hard when you live alone.
I do try to save my best and favorite foods for Sundays, though. And if I can just get some adequate cooking equipment and dining furnishings, I shall like to invite some of my other single-and-alone friends over for big Sunday dinners! That will be one of my goals for this year. Which is perfect, given my Patron Saint for the year and our joint mission.
Msgr. Guardini makes a good point about beginning preparations on Saturday evening. It’s sort of hard to observe Sunday well if you’ve been out or been awake all night on Saturday, without even thinking of Sunday. I do try to limit my carousing to Friday nights. ;) And housework and errands to Saturday mornings and early afternoons.
May all your Sundays be blessed and bright, dear readers!