Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Day of Rest

To be quite honest, my family is still working on establishing our Sabbath rhythm. Brian and I were both raised in homes where Sunday was pretty much exactly like Saturday, except that we attended church in the morning. When we endeavoured to truly embrace the spirit of the Sabbath, we discovered that taking a "day of rest" was not as easy as we'd imagined. In fact, I have found that it takes a lot of purposeful effort, planning, and dedication for our family to truly celebrate a Sabbath day. That said, some of what I share below will, in fact, be exactly what we do, and some of it will be things we are striving toward but don't manage to get done every week. Everything I've written here also refers primarily to our Sundays in Ordinary Time, since we tend to try to do something a little more "special" on Sunday during other liturgical seasons, and particularly during Lent when Sundays are the one day of the week when we can life our fasting and self-imposed penance.

Our Sabbath rhythm truly begins on Saturday afternoon. I get as many preparations made for Sunday's dinner as possible, often dressing the roast for Sunday dinner and putting it back into the refrigerator, ready for the oven after Mass the next day, among other tasks. I make sure that all the shopping that we might possibly need to do for Sunday is done--this includes putting gas in the car, if necessary. This allows us to refrain from engaging in commerce on the Sabbath. Why should we make it necessary for other to work on the Lord's Day? Then, of course, there is the weekly quick-clean of the house, preparations for brunch after Mass, and especially setting out our church clothes and little things to keep Sophia occupied during service (crayons, a children's bible, etc.)

With all this out of the way, I'm more likely to have any chance of a restful Sunday. Without this preparation, my Sabbath would be harried and frazzled and certain not a day of rest.

We usually get up at 6:30 on Sundays in order to attend 7:30 Mass, the earliest Sunday service at our parish. After Mass, we come home and have a leisurely breakfast while we discuss the sermon and enjoy each other's company. Afterwards, we go for a walk in fine weather or gather around the fire if it's chilly, and then it's time for Sophia's nap. While she naps, Brian and I relax together, often reading or we might play a boardgame. Sometimes, we nap, too! Sometimes I will blog and Brian will play his xBox (not exactly your typical Sunday fare...currently, we are praying about whether we ought to switch off electronics altogether on Sundays).

We always call our parents (the children's grandparents) on Sunday, even if we've spoken to them on other days during the week, which is typical. We always have a roast for dinner, so that goes in the oven early in the day, usually just before or right after Mass, allowing us to enjoy the rich aromas pervading our cozy home. Though, sometimes on very hot days, we will grill instead (we have no air conditioning). Dinner is early, usually around 2 PM when Sophia gets up from her nap, and we have tea in the late afternoon or early evening: sandwiches made from the roast leftovers, some cookies, etc. After dinner, I put the roast carcass, along with some aromatics into a pot of water to make stock or broth for the following week's recipes.

We like to have an afternoon walk if we didn't manage it in the morning, and we do some more relaxing family activities at home. Sometimes in the evening, we'll watch a movie together. Currently, we love streaming "All Creatures Great and Small," the old BBC series, on our xBox through Netflix. I would really love to have some family prayer and worship, in addition to Mass attendance, but we haven't managed to incorporate it in any lasting way that has felt right for our family just yet. Brian plays the guitar and I play piano, so I would love to have some sort of musical worship together as a family. We'll see; it's something to strive for.

Bedtimes are the same as on weekdays, so that part of the daily rhythm remains, and that's about it.

How do you spend your Sabbath days? Are there elements of your day that you feel aren't conducive to celebrating the Sabbath? Are there things you wish you did but don't do currently?


  1. I would love to get our family into a more Sabbath-oriented rhythm on Sundays. Have to bring that up to my husband and see what his thoughts are. I grew up with the main difference of Sunday being that we didn't eat breakfast and went to church. Then again, my dad's schedule was usually such that either he had to leave church after Eucharist to go to work, OR it was the best day of the week to Get Things Done.
    When I was trying to come up with a weekly schedule of chores, I put all the outdoor ones on Sunday with the specific thought of being outside in God's creation.
    I love the way you do it!

  2. We have church from 11 to 2, so I usually spend all morning preparing for it. But when I pack the diaper and activity bags and snacks and lay out our clothes a day or two before, everything goes better and we're more relaxed. Same goes with dinner: if everything's all prepared, it's so much more peaceful at our home on Sundays.

  3. Our Sabbath tends to be Saturday late afternoon to Sunday late afternoon. We relax Sunday morning around a big Southern country breakfast (the breakfast is some work, but a pleasure) before going to the late service at our church. We tried to make Sunday strictly the Sabbath, but it never worked out well. I had read of others who have Sabbath dinner on Saturday night, and it struck a chord! After church, we usually have a light lunch and some quiet time, sometimes a nap! :) We have often mused that if we were Roman Catholic, we'd choose the Saturday night service and start off our Sabbath rest that way!

  4. I enjoyed reading about how you spend your Sabbath. This is a period of rest that I think the modern world misses with our rush, rush, rush mentality.

    Like you I have found it hard to be different in this respect. To most people Sunday is just another day to get chores done, and that includes most people who go to church.

  5. Thank you for your lovely post - when I asked about your routine this was exactly the type of routine I was hoping to read about. I wouldn't be surprised if we copied some parts of it for our own routine. I'll post about it soon enough once I think it through a little more! Again, thanks for posting!

    Also, on a completely unrelated note, I also love Three Sisters Toys, which I noticed you put in your links bar!

  6. Hello,
    You don't have to post this, as it isn't really a comment, it is rather, a suggestion. I get some great materials from a publisher by the name of "Doorposts". I used their "Polished Cornerstones" with all 3 of my girls in our homeschool studies, and they have great resources for families, one in particular has to do with preparing each week for Sabbath. I haven't gotten it, but I want it, it looks really helpful! Here's the web address:

    It should open to the page with details about that book. Hope it's something you can use!Another great site, that is Protestant, but has great material for ANY faith, it's called "Vision Forum". They have wonderful books, toys, and other neat things. Here is their address:


  7. Amy- Thanks for the resource. I published the comment, since I think other readers might enjoy it, as well. And, just for the record, I LOVE Vision Forum! If only there were a Catholic version...*sigh*


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