Our pastor had what I thought was a very convicting homily this weekend about how we observe Sunday. Actually, the broader theme was stewardship. This is really resonating with me, and it seems to have been resonating with a few others I've spoken with today who heard the same homily.
What really hits home with me most significantly is the call, the need, for us as Christians to be focused on God's call and aware of how our culture lulls us into a variety of subtle practices, subtle beliefs, that erode not only the sanctity of Sunday, but sanctity in many other areas.
For a few years now I have been thinking of the phrase "Whole-Life Pro-Life", and how it relates to common cultural practices that subtly erode the sanctity of human life. A most prominent example of this would be child discipline practices that show no respect to children. But other things that come to mind are children being routinely whisked away from moms in hospital delivery rooms, pressure to bottle feed, pressures for separateness between parents (especially moms) and children, etc. All these things (and many others) seem to sow tiny drops of tarnish over the natural bond that preserves love and life.
It is not that I want to make rules and laws for others to follow to meet my standard of being a good mommy. But I want to look at what I choose and why, what I encourage others to do and why.
And, I think Sunday observance is similarly subtle. What is not needed is legalism: rule-following for the sake of the rules. Rather, what it boils down to for me is acknowledging God's role in my life: He IS, and I am dependent on him, and effort is required to preserve my awareness of His grace that draws me to Himself and makes me me. I come back to the thought of Fr.Guissani of CL. I need to know my dependence on God. I need for that dependence to be the most real awareness. And because I am human and prone to forgetting (and forsaking), I need Sunday to bring me back. And because I am in a culture which actively discourages awareness of my dependence, I need to have vigilance. My need is not for rules but for conscious acknowledgment that, YES, there are more productive things (or enjoyable time-frittering things) I could be doing rather than spiritual reading or works of mercy or sharing my life with my family and Christian friends. But I need to observe Sunday, not just because it is a commandment, but because fulfilling that need is part of what makes me live.
The same theme has arisen for me about tithing. There was a second letter to the editor in our diocesan paper (besides the one the previous blog entry is about) concerning tithing. It again really struck home for me, after all these years of hearing Protestants and Catholics talk about tithing. I need to tithe more than the Church needs money. I need to concretely express my dependence on God. What is more I need to make a blatant, positive action to break my dependence on money, on the system of this world as the source of my meaning, my security, my point of reference. God is my point of reference in this world.
So, yes, I am convicted. The interesting thing about this type of conviction is that it is not something for me as an individual. It is for my family. (Is my husband reading this?!) Actually, we've already talked about it quite a bit. But *I* can't just decide that things will be different for me; it is a family change that needs to be made. The image of Jesus in the gospel saying he is like the hen who wants to gather her chicks (Jerusalem) under her wings comes to mind. A hen is a mother, n'est pas? This seems to be a mother's role: to gather together and herd, for lack of a better term.
Practical questions arise. Challenges. Part of what I feel called to do is to invite people to our home more often on Sundays. As I told my husband this evening, I love people in theory. Even in reality I do enjoy people, given the right setting. But it is just that giving myself to the hurdle of "ok, I will do this, I will finally invite those people over I promised two years ago to have for dinner..." Yeah, it's all about dying to self.
Check back with me, will you, and keep me accountable to this feeling convicted?