"Creation is oriented to the sabbath, which is the sign of the covenant between God and humankind. . . . Creation is designed in such a way that it is oriented to worship. It fulfills its purpose and assumes its significance when it is lived, ever new, with a view to worship. Creation exists for the sake of worship."
-Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger), from his In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall
When it comes to honoring the sabbath, I am an amateur. I often direct my Sundays not to honoring God, but to honoring myself or the many tasks and commitments I have assumed. I'll send email, work on a few essays, jog, read the Sunday New York Times or grade. Sunday, in fact, is often not a day of rest and worship, but a day of anxiety, a day to fret about the things that have to get done. I attend Mass, but in a strange paradox, the day that should most remind me of my -- of humanity's -- supernatural destiny is the day that makes me feel most earth-bound.
I realize, however, that I am not alone. Over the last few years, one of the most common objections that students offer for not attending Mass is their schedules, especially now that club sports require year-round training and participation. Many students play games or tournaments every weekend, and some have to drive great distances to reach them. Sometimes they can make Mass, sometimes they cannot. For them and their families, Mass becomes optional, one of a number of priorities that competes for attention.
For these reasons, I welcome recent news out of Louisiana. According to The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond is requiring all Catholic schools to stop scheduling activities and programs on Sunday. No more practices, no more meetings, no more special events. The goal is to give families a break so that they can focus their Sundays on faith.
Though families will still be busy, this is an important move, even if it remains (in effect) mostly symbolic. How, after all, can Catholic schools expect families to honor Sunday if our schools make it more difficult? Archbishop Aymond's decision could have a really freeing effect, not only for parents and their children, but also for faculty members.
"Creation exists for the sake of worship." How do our plans and schedules change once we internalize that truth fully? I'm not sure exactly, but I know my Sundays would look much different.