Sunday, September 12, 2010

How We Spend The Lord's Day

Traditionally, we have Sunday dinner at my parents' house in Swarthmore. The meal almost exclusively consists of some kind of pasta, meatballs, and sometimes, braciole. Occasionally, they will acquiesce to our invitation to come to our house but not very often. There is something about the approach of Fall that makes me want to be in the kitchen, putting what's left of Summer's bounty to good use. So when my mother said yesterday that she and Dad were feeling under the weather, I jumped at the chance to cook at home today.

I had some beef short ribs in the freezer that I defrosted overnight. In the refrigerator beckoning to me were several shallots, some new potatoes, a lot of tomatoes and onions, a few bunches of beets and dozens of carrots, all organically grown. All of the vegetables used for today's dinner were grown by my CSA farmer, Bud, who wrote last night asking for prayers for rain. We awoke this morning to see that his prayers had been answered as a nice steady rainfall soaked the ground outside. I said a special prayer of thanks on Bud's behalf at Mass this morning.

This is the time of year when all of us compete with football for my husband's attention. But even he was overcome by the aroma coming from the oven and we sat down to dinner shortly after the Eagles game began, as opposed to half-time as he originally requested. The kids bickered, mostly good-natured, there was a bit of a disagreement about whose turn it was to do the dishes, and then when I mentioned praying the Rosary after the cupcakes, everyone cleared the room like an alarm had rung. And we wonder why we have difficulties?

I have been re-reading Sister Lucia's book "Calls From Fatima" and I have been thinking a lot about how she and her family were accustomed to spending Sundays. The day began, of course, with the whole family going to Mass, and afterward the young people would gather and talk while the adults played cards or other diversions under the shade of the fig and olive trees in her family's yard. When the Angeluls bell rang at 6pm, the men would rise and remove their caps, the prayer would be recited, and then all the families would return home to have their Sunday dinner. Prayers and Rosary followed. I remember hearing once that Saint Katherine Drexel's mother used Sunday evenings to pray the family Rosary and teach the children about the lives of the saints.

Meanwhile, in our household, there is no shortage of the American redmeat-fest known as football. Don't get me wrong - I love the game as much as anybody. But football should be one of the things we do on Sunday, not THE THING. And that's not all. How many children are missing from Mass because of team sports played on Sunday mornings? How many working mothers neglect their Sunday obligation because it's also the day the food coupons are printed and they've opted to do their food-shopping instead of fulfilling the command to honor the Sabbath? How many Catholics spend their Sunday mornings with the New York Times and an over-priced cup of coffee while the neglected Lord sits and waits for them in the tabernacle? And what are you prepared to do to reverse that trend?

Bear with me one more minute while I vent about something I've been seeing nearly every Sunday at the TLM. A woman enters just before it's time to approach the altar for Holy Communion. She marches right to the front so she can be the first one to kneel at the rail, setting her shopping bags down on the pew. Then she receives our Lord and instead of kneeling down at her pew to thank Him for the privilege, she grabs her bags and heads straight out the door. This was driving me to distraction. I reminded myself that this was none of my business and rather than get worked up about the situation, I realized the best thing I can is pray for this woman.

If you don't already pray the Rosary daily, please start. And if you do, please think about offering your Sunday Rosary for the intention of all the fallen-away and negligent Catholics who treat the Lord like so much of an after-thought, particularly on the one day of the week that He asks only an hour of us. As St. Therese reminds us, we can never love the good God too much!


  1. Amen! As my kids are getting older, I find they tend to be going in 47 directions at all times. We still TRY to have Sunday dinner regularly, and though some Sundays, they AND their friends, boyfriends, or other guests are with us, other times, it is just Bob and I and one or two who are not yet "off and running". It is my prayer that they will treasure the tradition, and when they are all grown and out of the house, will do as you, and come spend Sunday afternoons at my house(hopefully with their own families...;) ).
    I worked in Swarthmore for several years, at the school for the disabled, now called CADES. It is a lovely neighborhood :)

  2. My parents moved to Swarthmore after my dad retired from the police force in Philly. They're in the "poor section" of town, right adjacent to Rutledge. It is a beautiful area and only a 30 minute ride. I wish they'd let me pick them up and take them to my house on Sundays (like my father sometimes did with his parents as they got older) but they won't hear of it.


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