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JPII and St. Nicholas

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dies Domini, "Lord of the Sabbath" and JPII

To preface this post, it's necessary to point out that I have lived with my new family in a Jewish Orthodox neighborhood for the past year. There, a rabbi lives a few blocks away from us, and we are surrounded by young families who routinely set aside Friday evening to Saturday evening as their "shabbat".

Interestingly, Karol Wojtyla grew up in Wadowice with similar circumstances as my family's current neighborhood described above (please see my previous post: Catholics and Jews for further reference). Suffice it to say, that the Catholic/Jewish neighbohood Wojtyla grew up in made a major impression on him, shaping his understanding of Judeo-Christianity worldwide. Again, not because he went out of his way to seek such a worldview, but because the relationships he was involved in with friends like Jerzy Kluger formed him as such.

The Apostolic Letter on the Lord's Day or "Dies Domini" explores the Church's need to re-discover the cultural catalyst of celebrating the Lord's resurrection each Sunday! I will draw largely from the text of Dies Domini, as well as a Master's thesis for Sacred Heart Seminary written by Nico Angleys on the same topic. Together, these sources do not merely conclude that the jewish understanding of Sabbath in anticipation of the messiah is enough. Instead, they conclude that the Messiah has already come in the Person of Jesus who rose from the dead three days after celebrating the passover, wherein he instituted the Eucharist, and the day on which he rose is the same Sunday we celebrate! Therefore, Sunday has replaced Saturday as sabbath, and ultimately become "the day of the Lord".

Within the first few paragraphs of his letter, JPII admits to such a strong impression of "the Lord's Day" from his early days as a Bishop in Poland:
Many of the insights and intuitions which prompt this Apostolic Letter have grown from my episcopal service in Krakow. I see this Letter as continuing the lively exchange which I am always happy to have with the faithful, as I reflect with you on the meaning of Sunday and underline the reasons for living Sunday as truly "the Lord's Day", also in the changing circumstances of our own times. (Dies Domini #3)

He goes on to point out that for numerous reasons, including: economic instability, secularism, persecution, etc. the practice of observing the holiness of Sunday has been gradually declining since the early 1900s. The fact that the early Church, he says, had to literally shed blood for the sake of observing the Lord's Day on Sunday should make us grateful for the little persecution we have in the same regard today. JPII says of Justin Martyr and others under the persecution of Diocletian: "many were courageous enough to defy the imperial decree[banning Eucharistic assembly] and accepted death rather than miss the Sunday Eucharist." (ibid, #46) As for the history and logic behind Sunday as the given day for celebrating the Lord's Resurrection, I will summarize his points below:
1) Jesus rose from the tomb on Sunday, "first day after the sabbath" (Mk 16:2;Lk 24:1;Jn 20:1)
2) "Sunday" was originally named by the Romans as 'day of the sun'; Christianized by the early Church (and met with persecution)
3) Accoring to St Gregory of Nyssa and Maronite Liturgy, the early Christians of Jerusalem viewed the Jewish "shabbat" and Christian Sunday as two "brother days" (De Castiatione 46), with Sunday taking the highest place on account of the Lord's resurrection on that day
4) The necessity of conscience to participate in Eucharist on Sunday

Late in the Apolostolic Letter, JPII references the "Lord of the Sabbath" (Mk 2:28) as the authoritative principle in transferring the Jewish day of rest to the day of the Lord's Resurrection on Sunday. That is to say, Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, has the authority to be "Lord of the Sabbath" on Sunday, rather than Saturday, because he proved his authority by rising from the dead on that day! Nico Angleys' thesis brings this idea to the fore in his introductory paragraphs of "Keeping the Lord's Day Holy" by linking the decalogue, the new evangelization, and the authority of Jesus:
Time belongs to God. In his eternal and infinite wisdom, he gave us a command pertaining to time: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Jesus upholds this command and is given the title “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28, Matthew 12:8, and Luke 6:5). In the Great Commission, Jesus tells his disciples: “teach them [the disciples of all nations] to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Thus, in our day, the work of evangelization involves teaching the third commandment and declaring the blessing of sanctified time to a culture fixated on time. (part 1, Introduction to "Keeping the Lord's Day Holy")

Nico Angleys effectively points to Christ as central to the Lord's Day, fittingly celebrated on Sunday as stated above. He quotes from Dies Domini in regard to the linkage between Jerusalem of the old covenant and the New Jerusalem under the Messianic reign of Jesus:
In one of the concluding paragraphs of Dies Domini, he writes that “Sunday has the additional value of being a testimony and a proclamation” and then launches into an inspiring crescendo of reasons for this proclamation that culminates in the unending Sunday of the heavenly Jerusalem described in Revelation 21. (Part 1, #2 "Proclamation" of "Keeping the Lord's Day Holy")

Lastly, both JPII and Nico Angleys agree that Jesus completes the old covenant remembrance of the sabbath by A)Instituting the Eucharist on the night of Passover [the event where God delivered his people with the blood of a lamb] B) re-creating the order of nature by rising from the dead on Sunday [restoring to grace the fallen creation of God's creation account in Genesis].

What does that all mean practically? Or how does the layperson incoporate the practice of keeping Sunday (Saturday night through Sunday evening) holy besides going to Mass? JPII gives a few examples:
1) recitation of Saturday evening Vespers in family homes or local parish
2) dialogue between parents and children, especially thankfully remembering God's work in their lives
3) Catechesis for preparation to enter into the Mass, receive the Eucharist
4) family meal
5) Pilgrimage to nearby shrine

In today's culture, these examples go a long way with evangelization. "Fighting for Sunday" may become more intense as things continue to disintegrate, but having the teaching in place from JPII and others will strongly reinforce efforts to live God's law of love.


Dullesfan said...

From Dr. Ambrosio (disciple of Avery Dulles):
For Ignatius and those to whom he writes, the Eucharist is clearly the center of the Church’s life (Eph 13:1) and can be validly celebrated only by the bishop or by one he authorizes (Symr. 8:2). And, in contradiction to such Judaizing movements as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists­, Ignatius says (Mag 9:1) that a distinctive mark of Chris­tianity is to cease keeping the Sabbath (Saturday) and instead to observe the Lord’s Day (Sun­day).

Dullesfan said...

Also Taylor Marshall:

Anonymous said...

Hebrews 4
"Strive to enter that rest…Joshua spoke of"

He who stopped the sun Strive to enter the Lord's day
Brought down enemy walls Until that day's eternal
Crossed over Jordan Until the rest is final
Spoke only of another day The resurrection rest of Christ

Had he given rest Where rising is resting
He would not have spoken since suffering ceases
But silence instead Wars are completed
Silence from presence And Victory secure

He would not have spoken To those allowed to enter
Since God has spoken By Christ's own command
His voice of rest The Lord of Sabbath's rest
To those allowed to enter The new creation at last!

Jesed said...

07/13--(prayer for LD stability & Steve's prayer for life)
overarching message from 2010--2013

In the myriad of options for life directions, when trial and error experiments are over--only the above^ remain

Seveneleven said...


Anonymous said...


TMIY basic Sabbath teaching