month, kids across the country will head back to school. For many families that
means schedules crammed with homework, afterschool activities, sports, Scouts
and a million other tasks— especially on the weekends. For many of us, the weekends
are the time to accomplish all the things we couldn’t do during the week.
So when do we rest? Even God, after spending six days creating the
earth, needed some rest—“Since on the seventh day God was finished with the
work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had
undertaken” (Genesis 2:2). As Catholics, our faith offers us a built-in “time-out”
from our hectic lives—the Sabbath, which comes from the Hebrew word for “rest”
By definition, the Sabbath is “Sunday observed among Christians
as a day of rest and worship.” But oftentimes it’s not the worship part we have
trouble with—it’s the part about rest. Kids coming to Mass in their soccer or
baseball uniforms and then rushing out after Communion with their parents to
make their games have become a rather common sight at Mass these days.
This trend of using Sunday as just another day to get things
done is one Pope John Paul II lamented in his apostolic letter
Dies Domini (Celebrating the Lord’s Day). In that letter,
the pope urged Catholics “to rediscover Sunday.” He further
noted, “The rediscovery of this day is a grace which we must
implore, not only so that we may live the demands of faith
to the full, but also so that we may respond concretely to
the deepest human yearnings. Time given to Christ is never
time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships
and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human.”
(A condensed version of this letter is available in the March
1999 Catholic Update.)
Focusing on What’s Important
Next month, we will mark the one-year anniversary of the September
11th terrorist attacks. Following the attacks, there was a renewed sense of
slowing down and living in the here and now. People spoke of focusing on what
was important in their lives, such as spending time with family and friends.
But as the saying goes, “Old habits die hard.” And as the months passed, people—myself
included—fell back into our hectic ways of life.
So as our kids head back to school, let’s remind ourselves to take
a break. Can’t figure out when? Just look to our faith. There’s time already
set aside just waiting for us to take advantage of it.
Here are some suggestions for ways to slow down and re-energize
yourself and your family:
Take a look at the family calendar. Are you in control of your schedule,
or is it in control of you? Slow down.
Learn to say “no.” Your family doesn’t need to be involved in every
activity that presents itself.
Read an inspirational book, meditate or listen to some soothing music.
Plan a family dinner for Sunday evening. When I was growing up, Sundays
were always a time for family. As I look back, my memories
of these dinners are mostly of just being together, talking
and laughing. Or even better, go out for dinner so Mom or
Dad doesn’t have to cook!
Have a “lazy” day. Recently, after my husband and I had spent Saturday
running errands, cleaning the house and doing laundry, we
decided to do absolutely nothing on Sunday after we got home
from church. It was amazing how much more energized and tolerant
I was the following day.
Follow your children or grandchildren’s lead. Kids often—though not
all the time—have a sense of when they need to slow down.
Offer to color with them, play a board game or watch a video.
If they rest or take a nap, lie down with them.
Take a drive somewhere or go to a park for a picnic and walk in the
Next Month: The Family and the Current Church Crisis