Resolve to Keep the Sabbath this Year, Part One

I am unreasonably afraid of running out of gas in the car.  I think it is because I learned to drive in Northern Wisconsin, where running out of gas in the middle of winter could be a fatal mistake.  Driving instructors told tales of fools who carelessly ventured out on old logging roads without enough gas and were never seen again.

"Freak snowstorms as early as October or as late as May are not too remote a possibility," my instructors would ominously warn.  Taking their tales to heart, I developed the cautious habit of filling up my tank whenever it was down to around one-fourth full.

My habit served me well for over 20 years, but then gas prices skyrocketed, and it became too expensive to fill the family van past one-fourth full.  Although I knew it was a necessary financial measure, driving on a nearly empty tank all the time really stressed me out.  I felt foolish and unprepared for the possibility of getting lost, being late, or running into that freak snowstorm.  Last September, I began to get really nervous about driving our oldest kids to and from their high school about 30 miles away from home.

There are parallels with the spiritual aspects of life.  Am I usually tanked up on faith or always running on empty?  When a crisis comes up, do I have enough spiritual reserve to get through?  Am I as aware of my faith gauge as I am of my gas gauge?  In truth, I have witnessed far more terrifying spiritual storms than hazardous snow storms since getting my driver's license.  Storms like unforgiveness demolishing relationships, materialism siphoning off family finances, and disregard for Church teaching exploding into divorce.

I can think of many good ways to stay tanked up on faith, but I'd like to focus on one.  That way would be to take the Third Commandment seriously by really celebrating the Sabbath.  First and foremost, this would mean getting to Mass every week, but just getting to Mass would be like getting just a quarter a tank of gas. 

You see, keeping holy the Sabbath means more than just getting my sacraments and winning the race out of the church parking lot.  A Sabbath is a "recurring period of rest and worship" based on God's resting on the seventh day after creating the world.  To get spiritually tanked up, we need to stop spinning our work-a-day wheels, to physically rest, and to refresh our relationship with God and family once a week.  It's God's plan for keeping our spiritual fuel gauges pegged on full, and Jewish and Christian cultures have lived and prospered by it for thousands of years. 

Sadly, our post-modern culture seems to enjoy doing anything but observing God's plans, so the cost of really keeping holy the Sabbath is getting pretty high.  The cost sometimes includes not being able to participate in sports, jobs, or other events that regularly take place on Sunday.  Tough choices.  I must tell you, however, that, time and time again, when our family has made even the smallest effort to become more of a Sabbath people, God has provided for the extra time and money we've needed during the other six days of the week.  Which reminds me of how God provided for me in my anxiety about driving around on a nearly empty tank of gas. 

 Come last September, I discovered that gas prices over by the kids' high school were as much as $.34 per gallon cheaper than near our home!  Now, by waiting to fill up near the kids' school, I can almost pay for the drive over, and I don't have to drive around on empty quite as often.  Most of all, the situation is a tangible reminder of my need to stay fueled up on faith in order to better weather life's storms and that God will bless my efforts to get fueled up by keeping the Sabbath.

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  • Guest

    A necessary remainder Heidi. It's easy to forget or rationalize this Commadment. That's why it starts with – remember. Those who forget will run out of fuel on a logging road.

  • Guest
    Hi everybody! And Happy New Year! 
    Great article, Heidi. Celebrating the Sabbath has certainly become a lost art, especially here in America. If you need some ideas on how to keep Sunday holy, I just completed a 5-part series on that topic at my blog, Always Advent. Here's the link to Part 1 of "5 Things Catholics Can Do to Keep the Sabbath Holy":
  • Guest

    I has been a great comfort to come south into the Bible Belt.  Most places in this small city are "closed" on Sunday.  Praise God this continues! People are not hesitant to put Bible quotes on billboards and front doors of businesses, or even on front lawn signs,etc.  The prayer and dedication are obvious displays of purpose.  There is hope!

    Reflecting on the Book of Sirach discussing the Ten Commandments and reading precious sayings in Proverbs, has brought to life the here and now of the Sabbath.

    The above scripture was confirmation of the following words in May 1994, at church and after mass.  I share them with you because these are a continuation of God with us. We as His children, sometimes listen and enjoy His presence all about us in all things great and small!

                   Know the Ten Commandments

      God is above all–in praise, in honor, in love.

      God is first before all–in truth, in life, in love.

      God is before all–all others, all thoughts, all.

      The Name of God is sacred–use it to call on Him

                                             use it to praise Him

                                             use it to heal, console and extol.

      The sabbath is holy–a day of prayer, a day of praise

                                   a day of the Almighty.

      Honor of Father and Mother–above and below–honor sow.

      Thou shalt not–be of this world alone

      Thou shalt not–profane the Name of God

                                       the ones over you

                                       the day of God

                                       the life given

                                       the Temple of God–in place or people.

      Thou shalt not–steal from God in name, in gifts, in truth

                                                in taking that which is of God.

      Thou shalt–give life its honor.

      Thou shalt–give not take.

      Thou shalt–honor the Temple of God in man.

    Yes, freely you have been given, remember well.

    The will of God must prevail.

    The gifts of God must be restored–life, the earth.

    Man must be restored unto the Father, Our Father.

  • Guest

    Dressed in our best in all aspects, it used to be.

    Time-out in the kitchen, previously prepared on Saturday.

    Saturday night baths, confessions used to be.

    Reading and reflecting on the Bible Liturgy, it used to be on Sunday!

    Quiet-time and family, with limited TV, it used to be.

    Words and deeds of love and kindness, with scrutiny, it used to be.

    This is not an "ordinary" day, Our Father said.

    It is the day of Honor, the Resurrection of His Son, JESUS.

    Can we do it again and retore the truth? 

    On the seventh day, God "rested" it says to me.

    In 2008 I will follow the example of Our Father,

    as He has declared to you and me.

    Hopefully, here and now my brother and sister

    Maybe it has begun with you and me!   Amen.