Chapter 11 in the Rule of St. Benedict begins, “In Sunday the community should arrise early for Vigils”. He then goes on to explain how Sunday should be different than any other day of the week in the Monastery. ”
Joan Chittister OSB in her comment on the Rule writes, “Sunday, the weekly celebration of creation and resurrection is always a reminder of new life, always special, always meant to take us back to the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, the Center of life.”
For sometime now I have begun to rise early to pray Laudes online on Sunday Mornings at 6 am before breakfast, bathing and heading off to church to celebrate 3 Liturgies with my parish community. One would think that I am crazy to do that. But this simple change in my Sunday schedule has made all the difference in how I live and celebrate Sunday as both a Monastic and a Parish Priest. It is for me the Solemnization of this one day of the week. When I was living close to a Monastery in San Clemente CA. This Solemnization took place Sunday afternoons after all the ‘church stuff’ was over and I would go to Prince of Peace Priory in Oceanside for Solemn Vespers and Benediction.
I have learned again that as Christians we have lost the essence of our weekly rhythm when we abandoned the ancient Jewish Observance of the Sabbath. I live in a heavily populated orthodox jewish neighborhood. And we who live in this neighborhood see and feel the difference Sabbath Makes as many observe from Friday Night Sundown to Saturday the ancient Sabbath. Devote Jewish families are walking to and from from their homes to the Synagogue during this weekly period. They are resting and celebrating the completion of creation when God rested on the 7th day.
Joan reminds us “In Benedictine spirituality, the Sabbath is the moment for returning to the surety and solemnity of life, for the setting our sights above the daily, for restating the basics, for giving meaning to the rest of the week so that the mundane and the immediate do NOT become our level of our existence.”
Whether it be Sunday for Christians, or Saturday for Jews, or Friday for Muslims. We all as human beings need one Solemn day a week to return to our true identity as Creatures of our Creator, as Human Beings in need of Community, as participants in the ongoing renewal of our lives. Each of us must find that Sacred Space and set it aside for our own sanity and survival.