Sunday, October 12, 2008

Isaiah Wrote: If You Keep Holy the Lord's Day "Then You Will Delight in the Lord"

If you separate your labor from the day of rest and from doing your will on my holy day, and call yourself the delicate, holy, and glorious Lord's day of rest, and if you glorify him by not doing your own ways and not fulfilling your own will, then you will delight in the Lord, and I will extol you above the heights of the earth and feed you with the inheritance of Jacob[Isaiah 58: 12-14].

This morning while eating breakfast and reading, I was struck by the above quote from Isaiah that I found in the commentary by St. John of the Cross on Stanza 36 of his work The Spiritual Canticle.

St. John of the Cross explains "Jacob's inheritance here is God himself."

The mystic writer also known as San Juan de la Cruz is honored as one of the greatest Renaissance poets. But as this quote passage shows, Isaiah's poetry resonates too.

How many of us go this far? separate your labor from the day of rest and from doing your will on my holy day,

Even if we do, we are supposed to go further.

I am pondering what it means to call myself the delicate, holy, and glorious Lord's day of rest. I suppose it entails changing my heart so I can say: Today I am not Roseanne. I am the Lord's day of rest.

I suspect this means that on the Lord's day, at least, I am not to identify myself with the ambitions that drive me the whole rest of the week. At least on Sunday, I must identify myself with God's will for me that day. It is, after all, His Day.

And I can glorify Him by not doing my own ways and not fulfilling my own will.

We can keep our Sunday obligation and attend Mass reluctantly as an interruption of our plans to enjoy ourselves on the weekend. Or we can love the Lord's day because God wants us to, so much that we become one with it and give it all to God.

During my digression into evangelical Protestantism, I was struck by this. They have no threat of mortal sin if they miss Sunday services. But they seem to have internalized the joy of Sunday better than us Catholics. They spent their Sundays in church, starting with Bible study, followed by a long service during which the pastor reads from an interprets the Word of God, and they come back for evening service after a family dinner. They seem to have grasped the spirit of the Law of keeping holy the Lord's day better than we have.

I sometimes pray that all that evangelical zeal be brought back into the Church. They would gain the strength to be obtained only by participating in the sacrifice of the Mass and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. And the rules-based formalism of many cradle Catholics might melt away at the example of their zeal. As the conversion of Scott Hahn and many like him, the formation of the Coming Home Network, and Marcus Grodi's show, The Journey Home, on EWTN indicate, that conversion of evangelicals is happening en masse. Thanks be to God.

The reward of living Sunday God's way is great. When we call ourselves the Lord's day of rest, then Isaiah promises that we will "delight in the Lord." And we will be fed with Jacob's inheritance, God Himself. Small price to pay.

This goes along with a prayer I have been led to pray frequently lately:
"My Lord replace my ambitions with Yours this day. Lead me to do only what You want me to do."


Further reading:
From Dies Domini by Pope John Paul II. He wrote: I would strongly urge everyone to rediscover Sunday: Do not be afraid to give your time to Christ! 7

Read the Third Commandment with care: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath [holy] to the Lord your God. Then you shall do no work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your servant, or your maid, or your ox, or your ass, or any of your beasts, or the foreigner within your gates, that your servant and maid may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded that you keep the Sabbath day" (Dt 5:12-15).

God's will be done.
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