On Saturday, September 28, I had the opportunity to be part of an Oblate Retreat Day. The subject was most intriguing: “Whatever Happened to Sunday?”
Sister Ephrem Hollermann of Saint Benedict’s Monastery was the presenter. She first explored the topic with her audience, a group of approximately 65 oblates from St. Paul’s Monastery.
She asked her audience to consider what they did last Sunday? Could anyone even remember, because that was 6 days ago. Because of our busy lives, we can barely remember what we did 6 hours ago, much less 6 days.
To add the dimension of further reality to the situation, S. Ephrem went on to describe what a few contemporary writers think of present-day Sunday activity. Indeed, the bulk of their comments attributed the lack of Sunday rest to economic issues. In a society so fueled by the industrial nature of American life, Sundays are rarely sacred.
On another note, S. Ephrem asked the oblates to consider the impact of nonstop busyness on ourselves, our families, our friends. How is our health affected by our constant activity? The audience shared some of these effects as anger, fatigue and a sense of harried living.
Of course, S. Ephrem was not trying to guilt anyone, but she was trying to help us all reach the conclusion that yes, we lead busy lives and no, we cannot go back to another time when Sundays were treated as Sabbath rest.
However, what we can do is restore “Sabbath rest” by taking time more often to experience shorter times of rest, maybe by taking half a day to go to the park for a picnic supper, for example.
Or, maybe once a month, we could intentionally arrange to make Sunday truly the Lord’s Day—a holy day of rest, renewal, delight and blessing.
Mary Jane Berger, OSB