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"If the Lord's Day was not of Divine institution, it would be necessary to invent it as one of the surest means of maintaining order amongst men." -Anc. Leg.
God Almighty in the beginning of the world appointed a Sabbath, or day of rest, to be kept once a week in memory of His having accomplished the creation of the world in six days, and His resting on the seventh; and also that man might not only give rest to his body, but especially to his soul. This is done by withdrawing from the cares and pleasures of life, and raising our thoughts to consider the eternal rest in the world to come, the means to secure it, and the evils to be avoided. Thus, the day of rest is a remembrance of God's power and goodness, and so an excellent means of increasing our love for Him, because we cannot fail to love Him Whom we know to be the most perfect Being, to Whom all creatures owe their existence, Who is our greatest benefactor. Later on, when the sanctification of the Sabbath was included in the Ten Commandments given on Mount Sinai, Almighty God prefixed the word remember, as time had shown how apt man was to forget Him and His service, by being too fond of the perishable goods and pleasures of this life.
The last day of the week was appointed to be kept holy in the Old Law, but the Church, the beloved spouse of Christ, chose Sunday in memory of our Saviour's resurrection and the descent of the Holy Ghost, both of which happened on that day. Hence it is called the Lord's Day.
We are obliged to hear Mass every Sunday, and to abstain from servile works which are not required by necessity or charity. We ought, also, to endavour to be present at the other public devotions, such as Vespers, Sermon, Benediction, or Rosary. A part of the day might be profitably spent in reading pious books, such as the "History of the Bible," the "Lives of the Saints," the "Imitation of Christ," St. Liguori's "Way of Salvation," and the publications of the Catholic Truth Society, which may be found at most church doors. These will help us to enjoy what peace of heart which is found by those who retire from the noise and tumult of life to devote some time to their eternal interests.
There is a plenary indulgence granted in some countries to the faithful who receive Holy Communion worthily on the first Sunday of the month, and afterwards say a few Paters and Aves for the Pope's intentions.
Those who have more leisure and aptitude may further sanctify the Sunday by teaching catechism in the church, collecting for the various charities, ect. A Sunday spent thus passes sweetly, having been trutly sanctified by prayer and charity, and refreshed by family reunions, rest, and innocent joys. It is a guarantee of eternal rest in the kingdom of God.
"Grant I may ever, at the morning ray,
Open with prayer the consecrated Day;
Tune Thy great praise, and bid my soul arise,
And with the mounting sun ascend the skies;
As that advances, let my seal improve,
And glow with ardour of consummate love'
Nor cease with eve, but with the setting sun
My endless worship shall be still begun."
Example.- Rudolph de Lisele. Born A.D. 1853
If there was one specially marked characteristic about Rudolph from earliest boyhood, it was his absolute fearlessness, whether of danger, ridicule, or hardship, in the discharge of duty. Many striking instances of this better part of valour are given. Take one. There was a French man-of-war station not far from his ship in one of the harbours of the Pacific Ocean, and as there was Mass on board this ship. Rudolph thought it best to take his men there rather than go on shore. Leave was asked and obtained, so a quarter of an hour before the time, he arrived with his men. He himself was invited at once by the offers into the cabin, where they showed him every politeness. But by and by, the quarter of an hour being expired, Rudolph looked at his watch, and said: "Ah, I see 'tis Mass-time now." These French officers were Catholics, but lived, as too many of the French in that station of life do, in total disregard of religion. So when Rudolph said "It is Mass-time," they replied, "Mass! surely you are not going to Mass?" "Yes, I am," said Rudolph, and, at once taking leave, he went off and entered the place where Mass was said. About the time of the Sanctus one of the French officers slunk in. The next Sunday two or three cam in; the Sunday after the whole of the officers attended Mass from very commencement, and they continued to do so for the six weeks longer that the two men-of-war were within easy reach of each other.
- The Ecclesiastical Year , for Catholic Schools and Institutions, Imprimatur -
1. The word Sunday comes from Heathendom: The first day of the week was dedicated to the Sun god, therefore called Sunday, or day of the sun (dies solis). We are reminded thereby of that Sun which appears to us in the person of Jesus Christ, warming and illuminating our souls, even here on this earth, and which one day will, in the great beyond, rejoice us by its eternal brilliancy. In the language of the Church this day is called, at least since the time of Constantine, if not from the time of the Apostles, the day of the Lord (dies dominica).
2. Sunday is merely of ecclesiastical institution, dating, however, from the time of the Apostles. God established the Sabbath as a perpetual reminder of the creation, in order to admonish mankind that they owe their Creator veneration and gratitude; at the same time providing necessary rest for man and beast. The Apostles appointed Sunday for this day, because Christ, by His resurrection, completed the work of redemption, and sent the Holy Ghost on Sunday. Sunday, therefore, admonishes us more emphatically of the duty of gratitude, than the Sabbath of the Old Law; for our Heavenly Father began the work of creation, the Son of God completed the work of redemption, and the Holy Ghost com- menced His work in the Church of Christ on the first day of the week. It places before us, therefore, the three greatest of God's gifts to man: the Creation, the Redemption, and the Sanctification. This day is dedicated, therefore, to the Most Holy Trinity.
On Sunday the Christian should thank the Adorable Trinity for all graces received, especially for those of the past week; he should make atonement for faults committed and beg for grace and strength for the coming week.
3. The Sundays, then, are the guides of the entire Ecclesiastical Year; they either prepare for a coming high feast, or they explain the meaning of the feast. In the Epistles and Gospels of every Sunday the faithful are instructed in their duties for the entire year.
4. The Sundays are named and reckoned, either according to the time in which they occur, namely: the Sundays of Advent and of Lent, or according to the feasts to which they belong; the Sundays after Epiphany, after Easter, and after Pentecost. Names for certain special Sundays are obtained partly from the Introit of the Mass; for example, ''Oculi, Laetare, etc., partly from the special solemnity such as Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday, Low Sunday. The Sundays of Advent, Lent, and after Easter, always remain the same in number.
The Sundays after Epiphany and the Sundays after Pentecost are sometimes more, sometimes fewer in number. Those of the former vary between two and six, of the latter between twenty-four and twenty-eight. The movability of Easter is the cause of this variation.
5. By the Council of Nice in the year 325, it was decreed that the festival of Easter should be celebrated always on the first Sunday after the first full moon in Spring. It can not therefore, be celebrated before the 22nd of March, nor after the 25th of April, but always moves within this time.
The Sundays are regulated according to the time of Easter. If Easter occurs late, the six Sundays after Epiphany and the twenty-four Sundays after Pentecost are celebrated in their regular order. The earlier Easter falls, the more Sundays after Epiphany fall away, and these are then placed at the end of the Ecclesiastical Year, between the twenty-third and the last Sunday after Pentecost.
The Sundays of Lent and the Sundays after Easter occur sometimes earlier, sometimes later, according to the time of Easter; only the Sundays of Advent, and the Sundays following until the second Sunday after Epiphany inclusive, remain always the same.
6. On Sunday, or the evening before, Holy Water is blessed. Before High Mass the Priest sprinkles the people with this water, while the Asperges is sung. Thereby the significance of Sunday is made known to us. The faithful come to church on Sunday in order to be cleansed in the blood of Christ, from the dust of sin, which has in the course of the week adhered to them, and to renew the grace of Baptism, of which they should be reminded by the sprinkling of the Holy Water. Even in the Old Testament washing with water was repeatedly commanded, especially as a preparation before sacrifice, and oftentimes, when according to the Jewish law a person was considered unclean. The Jews attributed an atoning and purifying power to water. In the New Law this custom is more strictly adhered to, since Christ established the Sacrament of Baptism, in which, through water and the word of God, sins are washed away. The Church, therefore, even in the earliest times, blessed water, not only for use in Baptism but also for general use. St. Basil, says that the blessing of water rests upon Apostolic tradition. The blessing of water has always been customary in the Eastern, as well as in the Western Church. In the Greek Church this blessing takes place every month, in the Roman Church, every Sunday.
At the blessing of the water the salt is blessed first, then the water, then the salt is mixed with the water three times in the form of a cross, and finally, the mixture is again blessed. The blessing of the salt, as well as the water, begins with an exorcism, in order that not only the power of Satan shall be taken from the salt and water, but that the virtue of driving away the power of Satan, or at least diminishing it, shall also be imparted to the Holy Water. Salt is mixed with water to express the double power of Holy Water, that of healing and of purifying Water signifies purification; salt which preserves from corruption and gives a relish to food, is to denote that Holy Water preserves us from the corruption of sin, and is a means of sanctifying our life, and of making us pleasing to God. The salt is sprinkled in the water three times in the form of a cross to denote that this blessing is performed in the name of the triune God, and by virtue of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The substance of the other prayers of this blessing is : May God through this water destroy all the influences of the evil spirit, ward off sickness and other evils, promote the welfare of body and soul, and sanctify everything with which it is sprinkled.
The efficacy of Holy Water is the following: The remission of venial sin,—imparting grace, by which contrition and devotion are increased,--a shield against evil spirits,—it wards off diseases and other temporal evils. These effects, however, will only be experienced by those who use Holy Water with faith and a contrite heart.
The use of Holy Water is manifold. Before High Mass on Sunday the faithful are sprinkled by the priest to sanctify them for the Divine Service, about to begin, so that all present may partake intimately of the Holy Sacrifice without indifference or distraction. The priest says at the same time the penitential psalm ''Miserere" and finally prays that God will send his angel to guard those who are present. The faithful should unite with the prayers of the priest, and in a collected and penitential spirit prepare for the sacred sacrifice.
On entering the church the faithful sprinkle" themselves with Holy Water; for this purpose fonts are placed near the door of the churches. In early Christian times large wash basins, in which the people might wash face and hands before entering the church, stood in the vestibule. The Christian is thereby reminded that he should, appear in the sanctuary of God with a pure heart and a recollected spirit. He blesses himself that he may more readily overcome temptations, thereby obtaining abundant graces. On leaving the church the faithful also bless themselves with Holy Water to retain the graces received, and to be able to continue the divine service at home, and thus always rejoice in the protection of God. They take Holy Water home with them for the same reason. Thus the sanctifying power of the Redeemer extends from the temple of God to all Christian homes. We should use Holy Water not only exteriorly and mechanically, but with a lively faith, a penitential spirit, confidence in God, and with interior devotion. We should use it on getting up and on going to bed, on coming in and on going out, in temptation, and often during the day, especially in time of danger.