The Gift of Sabbath



Two weeks ago, in the excerpt from her book and interview, Bethany Hoang talked about the relationship between Sabbath and injustice; how Sabbath-taking is intimately related to our work against injustice. The “combating” of idolatry amidst Sabbath rest relates to the confrontation of injustice throughout our lives. Sundays enable us to see the relationship between how we spend our time and the realities of injustice. Finally, the Sabbath reminds us that we are human, that ultimately, the world is not ours to save.

On the topic of Sabbath, Laura Fabrycky brought this article by Soren Johnson to my attention, How (not) to Spend Sunday. Soren works for the Arlington Diocese and writes a wonderful personal reflection on what the Sabbath is about–the gift of time. He rightly articulates how the failure to take a Sabbath is typically a “failure of imagination.” He says:

“Faith is a gift, but the will has a great deal to do with it,” wrote Flannery O’Connor to a friend. “The loss of faith,” O’Connor continues, “is basically a failure of appetite, assisted by sterile intellect.”

To paraphrase: “Sunday is a gift, but the will has a great deal to do with it. The loss of Sunday is basically a failure of appetite, assisted by sterile intellect.”


And yet, a “failure of appetite” and “intellect” precisely describes the dozens of Sundays I have spent neglecting the relationship that underpins that day. The “fit Mass in between everything else” Sunday is, in the end, a failure of imagination: The mundane goes unchallenged by grace. I miss the person of Christ in order to “get stuff done.” Hours that could have been spent cultivating that relationship in praise, rest and thanksgiving, are lost.

Through the Sabbath God’s grace seeps into the mundane, filling our “ordinary time” with Christ. In the opening lines of his Letters and Papers from Prison Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “Time lost is time in which we have failed to live a full human life…” Hence, time is lost not when we fail to “get things done” but when we fail to rest in Christ. Through his personal reflection, Soren helps us see how Sabbath rest consecrates time itself, and orients us for living a full and Christ-centered life. Please head over to the Catholic Herald to read it.


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