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Ink Slingers Mandi

Who is My Master?

Who Is My Master?

“Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God. You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or donkey or any work animal, or the resident alien within your gates, so that your male and female slave may rest as you do. Remember that you too were once slaves in the land of Egypt, and the LORD, your God, brought you out from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm. That is why the LORD, your God, has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” – Deuteronomy 5:13-15

We are slaves to many things in our daily lives; work, commutes, money, material goods, physical fitness, sex, food, sports, entertainment… even family life and religion can become our master. I only have to look at what is consuming my mind and my time to identify what or who it is I serve. While I must work to provide the necessities of life, I must not allow myself to be lost to the work. It is a tricky balancing act. I can easily become overwrought with the endless to-do list ever looming over me. It can be exhausting. I become agitated, weary, and anxious; in fear of never getting it all done. I am a gerbil on the treadmill of life. I am in need of rest.  

“Remember that you too were once slaves…and the Lord, your God, brought you out… with a strong hand and outstretched arm.  That is why the Lord, your God, has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” 

He delivered us. His majestic arm is outstretched to us. He is calling us to come to Him, to rest in Him, to seek Him. I know I need rest. Not merely rest but renewal. After a long day and even longer week, I need to be revived. To where should I go for this rejuvenation? Do I go to my bed? Or maybe I head to the gym or the spa? Will I find it in the mall or in food or alcohol? Or will it be seen in mindlessly watching episode after episode of my latest favorite Netflix binge? Have any of these activities ever left me feeling reinvigorated or transformed for the better? Do they fill my heart with the sense of wonder that comes with acknowledging that all I have and am, comes from a gracious and loving God who thirsts for me? He longs for us with an outstretched arm to come to Him; rest in Him. Our Creator desires our attention. And, He commands us to make the Sabbath day holy. 

Sunday is Church day. It is the day of the Lord. He commanded it for our good. Jesus tells us, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath…” (Mark 2:27). Our bodies and our minds need to be set free from the things of this world. Our spirit needs to be reset and strengthened. It is not for God’s benefit that I should choose to suspend all activity and turn toward the Lord, glorifying Him. I offer all the stuff of my life- the good and the bad- to Him in praise and thanksgiving. In my coming to Him, He heals my brokenness, He nourishes my soul. He lifts me up and lightens my burdens. And, it is for my betterment that my attention is focused on Him. Naming the graces in my life creates in me a grateful more generous heart. My mind and spirit are awakened; reminding me that my thoughts and actions are often self-centered rather than God-centered.

I expend my energy on many things, some fruitful and others not so much. Am I, as St. Ignatius of Antioch described to early Christians, “living in accordance with the Lord’s Day”? Am I building my days, weeks and life around this holy day and the commands of the Lord? Is the rhythm of my daily routine set around seeking God? Freedom to choose is an extravagant thing. I may consciously or not choose all sorts of things to be my master, but none will fill me with the magnificent beauty and peace that is an encounter with our Lord. We breathe because He loves us. We exist because He said it was good. Simply put we are His. Why then, am I searching anywhere else for the peace and joy only He provides? It is a lack of humility in me. Humility says He is God and I am not. A humble heart can see the gifts in all things good or terrible. When I don’t stop to praise God who is everything, my vision has become obscured and I cannot see the abundant blessings all around me.

We ought to go to Church on Sunday not because it fulfills a commandment or because we fear we will anger God, but because we desire to. We need to gather together and sing praises of thanksgiving for a God who has delivered us, set us free. I need and want to celebrate the many wonders and blessings He has done for me. The Sabbath day is for me to seek God, to joyfully pour out my tired and weary soul on the altar, humbly asking our Lord to make me new. Participation in the celebration of the Holy Mass is the ultimate prayer for us as Catholics. Our prayers are joined together and lifted up to the Lord around the world. We are united with Jesus in a special way in the Eucharist. The peace my heart has been longing for is found there, so completely. It is a beautiful gift for which I am unworthy. God is with us indeed. It is a miracle that leaves me in awe. I am so moved I am often brought to tears. My heart and soul experience a joy, a peace, and a love that is so awesome it cannot and should not be contained. This love, this joy, must be lived and shared. It must not remain behind in the pew but be carried out into the world to be seen and heard. The attention I give to Sunday, the Sabbath day, is not about an obligation I must fit into my week but it is about the longing of my heart; my soul which is seeking the One who loves perfectly.  

“’Living in accordance with the Lord’s Day’ means living in the awareness of the liberation brought by Christ and making our lives a constant self-offering to God, so that His victory may be fully revealed to all humanity through a profoundly renewed existence.” ~Pope Benedict XVI

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Domestic Church Ink Slingers Spiritual Growth Victoria K

We Want You…. To Take a Sabbath (here’s 5 suggestions how)

Doing Nothing

My husband is really good at doing nothing in the best of ways.  In my husband’s mind weekends are for waking up late, talking over a cup of coffee, playing with the dog, planning a fun trip, taking leisurely walks, reading a book, going out for dinner with friends, and playing board games.

He basically has to chain me down for me to join him.  I see stacks of laundry, piles of dishes, that stack of mail precariously poised to fall off our countertop.  I work a busy workweek, and what better time to do the chores than that big space of free time on Sundays?  I mean, you expect me to sit around and do…well, nothing?

Endless Tilt-a-Whirl

Although it was nice to see those bold “X’s” on my to-do list, I found that I felt just as tired at the end weekends as at the end of a workweek.  I was on an endless tilt-a-whirl—day after day after day would go by and I couldn’t see the end of obligations.  I was stressed and my motivation was shot.

God drew me to taking a Sabbath not through theological arguments—He got me through exhaustion (He works in mysterious ways…).  I was freaking out over a stack of dishes and saw my husband sitting on the couch, reading a book.  And something clicked in my mind.  Maybe not all of the time…but a single day of nothing?  That might be exactly what I need.

 

Take a Break

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus says: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (in Mark 2:27).  I think that Jesus is really standing there thinking: “My word, just take the break I’m trying to give you.”  I decided to start taking this gift seriously.

Just like every gift of God, it was exactly what I needed.  I have time for meaningful conversations with my husband, dinners with family, leisurely walks to just enjoy nature.  Basically, every once in a while I can enjoy the life that God has given me.

 

Five Suggestions

Now that Sabbaths are a regular part of my week, I have five suggestions for you to develop your Sabbath:

1. Cut out *one* chore, work task, or homework item on your Sabbath.  I really wanted to say no chores, work, or homework, but I think that may be too super intense.  Maybe it’s the laundry that always seems to accumulate right around Sunday.  Maybe it’s that last minute grocery run.  Maybe it’s those papers that seem best to do late on a Sunday night.  Maybe you have a weekly meeting on Mondays that you prep for on Sundays.  Find one thing that you can give up—and make more time for prayer, rest, and enjoying time with the Lord.

 

 

 

 

2. Switch to a different Sabbath (if needed).  So, this was something that was completely new to me.  This is a trick some priests do—because their Saturdays and Sundays are so slammed, they pick a weekday to take a Sabbath.  I used to work in youth ministry, where Sunday was our most intense work day.  Monday became my day of rest, a day to really re-focus, enjoy the things I loved without stressing too much about work.

 

 

 

3. Pick a reoccurring volunteer activity.  Be about God’s work! It may be hard to see past our own work and families’ needs, wants, and obligations.  God has called us to reach out past our own to-do list.  Maybe it’s a simple activity: lectoring or playing piano at mass, offering to drop off food donations to the local food pantry, helping out with a community garden, or visiting a friend who’s lonely and needs someone.  Maybe you’re willing to dive a little deeper: volunteer as a catechist, lead a bible study, run bingo at a local nursing home.  Rest doesn’t mean doing nothing!  It means experiencing the peace of doing God’s Will.

 

 

 

4. Have a meal with friends or family.  The key is that this should be with people you genuinely enjoy.  Spend time being loved on your Sabbath.  Let someone make you laugh out loud.  Share joys and sorrows from the week.  Holiness is not always solemn and refined; holiness can be beer, brats, and best friends.  

 

5. Schedule a time to do nothing.  I was thinking something along the lines of morning, afternoon, or evening.  Schedule nothing during this time.  My husband and I do mornings—we cook a simple breakfast and lounge around with coffees until noon mass.  We make time to talk, to enjoy ourselves, to really rest our minds from the “busy”-ness of life.  At first, this can be super tough!  It’s amazingly difficult to not plan “stuff” to fill our days.  But this becomes a rich time for relationships, for peace, for contentment just by being.