Released on: SEPTEMBER 2, 2010


  • 01. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the First Day

  • 02. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Third Day

  • 03. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Eighth Day

  • 04. Saturday and Sunday

  • 05. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Day of the Church

  • 06. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Day of the Word of God

  • 07. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Day of the table of the Body of Christ

  • 08. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Day of Mission

  • 09. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Day of Rest

  • 10. Are the Virgin Mary and the Saints obscuring the central role of Christ?

  • 11. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Day of the Family

  • 12. Conclusion


    From the "Catechism of the Catholic Church":
    The Third Commandment

  • I. The Sabbath Day

  • II. The Lord’s Day


  • Regulations on Fast and Abstinence

  • Dear brothers and sisters,

    The Joy of Sunday be with you!

    Perhaps you are astonished that I greet you here not with the usual "Peace be with you!" but wishing you the Joy of Sunday. If you have patience to read attentively this letter that I address to all the Catholics of Kuwait, you will understand that the "Joy of Sunday" is the greatest joy that we can wish each other.

    We can ask ourselves: why do we celebrate the Sunday on a Friday in the Islamic countries, or on a Saturday where there is a Jewish majority and elsewhere on another day?

    In fact, when I arrived Kuwait in 2005 I was very surprised to find that we celebrate the Liturgy of Sunday on Friday. In the Arabic/Islamic countries, such as Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Sudan, where I had spent 36 years of my life, we never celebrated the Liturgy of Sunday on a Friday. In all these countries Sunday remains the Lord’s Day! Why should we remain faithful to celebrate Sunday as the Lord’s Day even here in this Islamic country of Kuwait? Please, bear with me in reading the following pages and I hope that you will agree with what Pope John Paul II wrote: "Sunday is a day which is at the very heart of the Christian life... Today I would strongly urge everyone to rediscover Sunday: Do not be afraid to give your time to Christ" (Dies Domini – DD – 7).

    1. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the First Day

    If we follow the order of the weeks, Sunday is the first day of the week, Monday the second, Tuesday the third, etc. In the Mediterranean area, where Christianity was formed, the first day of the week was understood as that of the sun (Sun-day), meanwhile the other days were linked to the various planets, known at that time.

    For us Christians, it was "on the first day of the week that Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to the sepulchre" (Mt 28:1) and found it empty. The angel said to them: "He is not here, for he has risen as he said he would" (Mt 28:6). We read also in the Gospel of St. John: "In the evening of the same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them: Peace be with you" (20:19). The book of Revelation confirms the Christian meaning of Sunday: "It was the Lord’s day and the Spirit possessed me" (Rev 1:10).

    The centre of the first day of the week (Sunday) is the Eucharist, according to the will of Jesus. In fact, in order to express his plan to remain with us forever (Mt 28:20, "I am with you always; yes, to the end of time"), he ordered: "Do this as memorial of me" (Lk 22:19). The Eucharist is the foundation of our faith and the source of fraternal charity. There cannot be a Lord’s Day without the Eucharist. Otherwise, Sunday will be only a working day, like the other days of the week. This is the danger to which we are exposed to in the Gulf: to consider Sunday as any other day, since we have already fulfilled our obligation by attending our Sunday Mass on Friday. If we neglect Sunday, the day of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, we neglect our Christian faith and gradually we may reach the conclusion that what is important is to believe in God and that, finally, all the religions are the same. The resurrection of Jesus on the first day of the week must remain the basis of our life, the source of everything we do. Sunday without the Eucharist is like a day without the sun!

    The first day of the week is also the day of the beginning of creation: "God said: Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that light was good and God divided light from darkness. God called light ‘day’, and darkness he called it ‘night’. Evening came and morning came: the first day" (Gen 1:3). Therefore, the Christian Sunday is also the feast of creation: thanksgiving for the gift of creation, for the "Let there be" with which God started to create the universe. It is a thanksgiving because God doesn’t allow that creation be destroyed but he restores it after the destruction made by the man. We see very well how sin destroys creation (from abortion to the ruin of the environment), so we see in this first day the idea of St. Paul that "The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons" (Rom 8:19). As creation may be destroyed by men, in the same way it can be healed when the sons of God are there. So, Sunday is explicit in the role that we read in the text of creation: "Fill the earth and conquer it" (Gen 1:28). This "conquer it" doesn’t mean: make it slave! Plunder it! Make of it what you want! But: recognize it as a gift from God! Take care of it as children take care of the paternal inheritance. Keep it so that it becomes a true garden of God and for it to be realised as the plan of God that he be "All in all" (1 Cor 15:28).

    With the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the first day of the week, a new creation started. Now there is a man, Jesus Christ, perfectly obedient to God, he is even glorified and all the universe looks to him and hopes to be one day like him and with him forever.

    We pray in the Preface III of the Sundays in Ordinary Time:

    We see your infinite power

    In your loving plan of salvation.

    You came to our rescue by your power as God,

    But you wanted us to be saved by one like us.

    Man refused your friendship,

    But man himself was to restore it

    Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    The drama of the Eucharist is that it is very often understood as a devotion besides other traditional devotions or as an obligation, and not as an historic event (the resurrection of Jesus Christ) which enlightens all our life.

    2. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Third Day

    Besides Sunday as first day, there is in the New Testament another formula which we find in 1 Cor 15:4 and entered also in the Creed of the Church: On the third day he rose again in fulfilment of the Scriptures.

    The most ancient tradition kept this mention of the "third day" and with that it kept the memory of the empty sepulchre and of the first apparitions of the Risen Lord. Why this specification "in fulfilment of the Scriptures"? Was it necessary? Why was it not enough to say just "On the third day he rose again"? The first Church remembered that the third day was the day announced by Scriptures, in the Old Testament itself, of this fundamental event in world history. Or better still, not of the history of the world but to the freeing of the history of the world, in the exit from killing and death to a beginning of new life. In the description of the Covenant on Mount Sinai in the Old Testament, the third day is always the day in which God manifests himself. We read in the book of Exodus: "On the third day the Lord will descend on the mountain of Sinai in the sight of all the people (19:11). So, the mention of the "third day" means that the resurrection of Jesus is the definitive Covenant: the real and definitive entry of God in history, he becomes a God whom we can hear, see, touch and embrace: "That life was made visible: we saw it and we are giving our testimony" (1 Jn 1:2). Resurrection means that God has power over history, he has not abandoned the world to itself, God made himself present to the world. The "third day" is a sign that God is there, death is not the last step of our life, death has been destroyed. We pray in the first Preface of Christian death:

    In him, who rose from the dead,

    Our hope of resurrection dawned.

    The sadness of death gives way

    To the bright promise of immortality.

    Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended.

    When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death

    We gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.

    Resurrection means that God, through the labyrinth of sin, has power even over evil, he free us from many slaveries, he can change our lives!

    Resurrection is not an event among other events, something that came and went. Resurrection is the beginning of a new status, a new life which never will end. The Risen Lord continues to give himself in the Eucharist. The third day after Jesus’ death is the first day of the week, the day of creation in which God said: "Let there be light, and there was light" (Gen 1:3). In the first Church a Sunday without Eucharist was unthinkable. It is in the celebration of the Eucharist that we affirm, on the Lord’s Day, that we belong to God. That day is property of the Lord, it is really the "Lord’s Day". The Eucharist of that day enlightens all the day and the life of the Christians. We should come out from the celebration of the Eucharist with a new life, ready to witness the love of God for all, to reconcile ourselves with all. The Eucharist is our "spiritual lung" which makes us to feel that we belong only to God. A Sunday without the Eucharist is an empty day, this "third day" will mean nothing for us and we shall remain unbelievers.

    3. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Eighth Day

    The Fathers of the Church (theologians and spiritual Fathers who lived until the fifth century) called Sunday also the "Eighth Day". They counted Sunday as the first day, then the six days of the week adding Sunday again, so it became the eighth day of the week. We know that the days of the week are seven and not eight, but they counted Sunday twice (at the beginning of the week and at the end) and wanted with that to say that Sunday, as the eighth day, is beyond the natural system of our universe and beyond our natural life, it reminds us that we have been created for eternity, to live forever! On Sunday we celebrate the Sun which never knows sunset: Jesus Christ. This day takes us to the future and invites us to look ahead, when we will be definitely with God. In that time there will be no days, nor weeks, but only one day, without end. We are called to run through a new way, to complete a new "exodus" towards our meeting with God, in full and definitive communion with him. This challenge suggests to us to abandon our persistent comforts and stimulates us to engage ourselves in a newness of life where justice and peace reign in us. Therefore the eighth day is a call to be vigilant so that we wait for the "Lord’s Day" not in fear but in joy, in hope and in the perseverance of faith. Sunday is neither just a memory of an event which occurred in the past, nor an empty sign, but the reality of a future in which we live here partially but will live it totally after our death. The eighth day is the new time which began with the resurrection. Starting from this symbol of the eighth day, many Baptisteries (the place where the sacrament of Baptism is celebrated) have been built on octagonal basis, to signify that the Baptism is a birth in the new time that the resurrection has disclosed. Sunday is the feast of the resurrection of the Christians which recurs every week. The solemnity of Easter started to be celebrated long time after the celebration of Sunday.

    On Sunday we are called to celebrate it as the first day, the beginning of a new creation, as the third day, the day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as the eighth day, the day which has no evening because God will be its light forever: "They (the disciples of Jesus) will see him face to face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. It will never be night again and they will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will be shining on them. They will reign forever and ever" (Rev 22:4-5).

    4. Saturday and Sunday

    We spoke until now about Sunday, but how did the change take place from Saturday to Sunday?

    Saturday is prescribed by the divine commandment: "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy" (Ex 20:8) because God rested from his work on this day. We also read: "You must keep the Sabbath, then; it is to be held sacred by you" (Ex 31:14). Here is the foundation of the Sabbath.

    But already during the Apostles time the day of the resurrection was the day of the Christian assembly. This was the "Lord’s Day" (Rev 1:10 "It was the Lord’s day and the Spirit possessed me...!), the day in which he entered in the midst of his disciples and they met him. To gather together with the Risen Lord meant that he broke the bread again for them (Cfr Lk 24:30-35).

    The Sabbath was related to creation because on this day God rested from his work of creating, but the first day of the week, Sunday, is the beginning of a new creation. The resurrection gathers together the old and the new creation. In fact, St. Paul says in his hymn: "He is the image of the unseen God and the first born of all creation" (Col 1:15) and "As he is the Beginning, he was the first to be born from the dead, so that he should be the first in every way" (Col 1:18). So, Jesus Christ is presented either as the first born of all creation or the first born of all the resurrected.

    The shift from Saturday to Sunday reflects the continuity and the newness of Christianity.

    John Paul II wrote in his Apostolic Letter "Dies Domini" (Lord’s Day):

    Because the Third Commandment depends upon the remembrance of God’s saving works and because Christians saw the definitive time inaugurated by Christ as a new beginning, they made the first day after the Sabbath, a festive day, for that was the day on which the Lord rose from the dead ... as Saint Gregory the Great declares: ‘ For us the true Sabbath is the person of our Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ... It was in the Paschal Mystery that humanity, and with it the whole creation ‘groaning in birth-pangs until now ‘ (Rom 8:22), came to know its new ‘exodus’ into the freedom of God’s children who can cry out with Christ, ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). In the light of this mystery, the meaning of the Old Testament precept concerning the Lord’s Day is recovered, perfected and fully revealed in the glory which shines on the face of the Risen Christ (Cfr 2 Cor 4:6). We move from the ‘Sabbath’ to the ‘first day after the Sabbath’, from the seventh day to the first day: the Dies Domini (Lord’s Day) becomes the Dies Christi (Christ’s Day)" (DD, 18).

    5. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Day of the Church

    We hear sometimes that, as the Moslems do, the Christians also can pray alone in their house; no need to go to Church. This is not applicable for our Christian faith. Nor can we accept the idea of those who say that they prefer to go to church alone, to pray alone, to avoid the crowds, they say that they pray better when they are alone. Of course personal prayer is always necessary but it cannot replace prayer with the Christian community. It is essential for us Christians to gather in the church together, to live in unity, to proclaim together the marvellous wonders that God has done and is doing for me, my family, for us all. The call to the Christian faith is individual, God calls every one personally, individually, to know Jesus Christ and to experience how life with him is. But God doesn’t leave the person alone; every one is invited to join a family, the family of God. We find this family of God in the Catholic Church. This "call from God" to join the Church is the fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit. We don’t gather together because we find good friends in the church, but because we are nudged by the Holy Spirit to enter into the family of God. Jesus said: "Where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them" (Mt 18:20). Therefore, a Christian assembly is the sign of the presence of Jesus Christ in the world. Jesus gives us the communion that he has with the Father and the Holy Spirit. This marvellous gift that Jesus promised to us in the Last Supper (Cfr Jn 17) is always there, in every Eucharist, because the Holy Spirit introduces us to the Body of Jesus, the Church.

    We pray with the VIII Preface of Sundays in Ordinary Time:

    When your children sinned

    And wandered far from your friendship,

    You reunited them with yourself

    Through the blood of your Son

    And the power of the Holy Spirit.

    You call them to be your people,

    To praise your wisdom in all your works.

    You make them the body of Christ

    And the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit.

    The celebration on Sunday is in itself an experience of communion. Pope John Paul II stressed very much this aspect in his Apostolic Letter:

    Those who have received the grace of baptism are not saved as individuals alone, but as members of the Mystical Body, having become part of the People of God. It is important therefore that they come together to express fully the very identity of the Church, the ‘ekklesia’, the assembly called together by the Risen Lord who offered his life ‘to reunite the scattered children of God’ (Jn 11:52)... This unity becomes visible when Christians gather together... The Eucharist is not only a particularly intense expression of the reality of the Church’s life, but also in a sense its ‘fountain-head’... Because of this vital link with the sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord, the mystery of the Church is savoured, proclaimed, and lived supremely in the Eucharist" (DD 31-32).

    On Sunday the disciples are called to pass from dispersion to unity, from being scattered to the communion in the Holy Spirit. The vocation to communion is proper of everyone who has chosen Jesus Christ. For the Christian Sunday is not a day to execute a Rite or a commandment that became compulsory by the tradition or by the law or by the social convenience, but the day on which he is called to be in communion with his brothers in faith in order to share with them the only meaning of life: to experience the death-resurrection of Jesus Christ. Anyone who has chosen Jesus Christ as teacher and light of his life is not afraid to dedicate time to the Liturgical assembly. Without the Liturgical assembly, Sunday would be a Sunday without the Lord because, as we read in the Acts of the Martyrs, (Saturninus and his companions were killed in the year 305 AD during the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Diocletian): "We cannot omit the celebration of the Divine Mysteries. The Christian cannot live without the Eucharist and the Eucharist without the Christian. Don’t you know that the Christian exists for the Eucharist and the Eucharist for the Christian? Yes, I participated with the brothers in the meeting, I celebrated the mysteries of the Lord and I have here with me, written in my heart, Divine Scripture. The Eucharist is the hope and the salvation of Christians".

    Pope John Paul II wrote:

    The Sunday assembly is the privileged place of unity: it is the setting for the celebration of the Sacramentum Unitatis which profoundly marks the Church as a people gathered ‘by’ and ‘in’ the unity of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. For Christian families, the Sunday assembly is one of the most outstanding expressions of their identity and their ‘ministry’ as ‘domestic churches’, when parents share with their children at the one Table of the Word and of the Bread of Life" (DD, 36).

    The Lord wants to be present among his disciples and to be "seen", therefore he inspires a desire of communion, stimulates them to share the same faith, makes them docile to the Holy Spirit, gives them the desire of conversion; he wants to be known as the Risen Lord, able to change their life from sin to grace.

    6. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Day of the Word of God

    The communion between Jesus Christ and the assembly is realised by the word of God which is read in the assembly:

    As in every Eucharistic celebration, the Risen Lord is encountered in the Sunday assembly at the twofold table of the word and of the Bread of Life. The table of the word offers the same understanding of the history of salvation and especially of the Paschal Mystery which the Risen Jesus himself gave to his disciples: it is Christ who speaks, present as he is in his word ‘when Sacred Scripture is read in the Church’ " (DD, 39).

    The reading of the Scripture accompanies and enlightens the Christian in his daily life and calls him to conversion:

    It should also be borne in mind that the liturgical proclamation of the word of God, especially in the Eucharistic assembly, is not so much time for meditation and catechesis as a dialogue between God and his People, a dialogue in which the wonders of salvation are proclaimed and the demands of the Covenant are continually restated. On their part, the People of God are drawn to respond to this dialogue of love by giving thanks and praise, also by demonstrating their fidelity to the task of continual conversion. The Sunday assembly commits us therefore to an inner renewal of our baptismal promises, which are in a sense implicit in the recitation of the Creed (DD, 41).

    So, from Sunday to Sunday, we become adults in faith.

    7. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Day of the table of the Body of Christ

    The disciples of Christ are called to imitate Jesus Christ:

    The table of the word leads naturally to the table of the Eucharistic Bread and prepares the community to live its many aspects, which in the Sunday Eucharist assumes an especially solemn character. As the whole community gathers to celebrate "the Lord’s Day", the Eucharist appears more clearly than on other days as the great ‘thanksgiving’ in which the Sprit-filled Church turns to the Father, becoming one with Christ and speaking in the name of all humanity. The rhythm of the week prompts us to gather up in grateful memory the events of the days which have just passed, to review them in the light of God and to thank him for his countless gifts, glorifying him ‘through Christ, with Christ and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit’. The Christian community thus comes to a renewed awareness of the fact that all things were created through Christ (Cfr Col 1:16; Jn 1:3), and that in Christ, who came in the form of a slave to take on and redeem our human condition, all things have been restored (Cfr Eph 1:10), in order to be handed over to God the Father, from whom all things come to be and draw their life. Then, giving assent to the Eucharistic doxology with their ‘Amen’, the People of God look in faith and hope towards the eschatological end, when Christ ‘will deliver the kingdom to God the Father... so that God may be everything to everyone’ (1 Cor 15:24.28) (DD, 42).

    8. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Day of Mission

    A community gathered in faith, love and "united in heart and soul) (Acts 4:32) is the first sign of the presence of the Risen Lord among his disciples, his visible Body! That’s why the apostle Paul invited the Christians of Corinth to a serious examination of conscience before receiving the bread and drinking the cup of God, in order not to offend the same body and blood and not to eat the personal condemnation: "Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be behaving unworthily towards the body and blood of the Lord" (1Cor 11:27). This unworthy participation concerns especially those who consume privately his supper without sharing with his poor brothers. Here it is clear that the sin of individualism towards the poor is a sin against the Body of Jesus: the horizontal level and the vertical one are together, the Eucharist cannot be disassociated from sharing, and by consequence it supposes solidarity and communion with the participants. There is an essential relation between the Eucharist (the sacramental body of the Lord) and the assembly (the ecclesial body of the Lord) and this deep relation should be realised in an authentic love for the brothers. On Sunday this love is called to become visible and working in words and deeds of friendship and fraternity, of witness and service, of solidarity and sharing, especially for those who don’t have or are less, be they inside or outside the assembly.

    It is also important to be ever mindful that communion with Christ is deeply tied to communion with our brothers and sisters. The Sunday Eucharist gathering is an experience of brotherhood, which the celebration should demonstrate clearly, while ever respecting the nature of the liturgical action (DD, 44).

    The Sunday Eucharist, not only does not absolve the faithful from the duties of charity, but on the contrary commits them even more (DD, 69).

    Saint Ambrose addressed words of fire to the rich who presumed to fulfil their religious obligations by attending church without sharing their goods with the poor, and who perhaps even exploited them (DD, 71).

    The gathering of the assembly is not for its own purpose, but it is the true reason of the Christian engagement in the world, which has its source in the Eucharist. The Eucharistic meeting with the Risen Lord arouses in the disciples the desire to continue the same mission of Jesus, to communicate to the others the experience we get in the Eucharist: "We have found the Messiah" (Jn 1:41), said Andrew to his brother Peter. This should be our experience after the Sunday Eucharist.

    Receiving the Bread of Life, the disciples of Christ ready themselves to undertake with the strength of the Risen Lord and his Spirit the tasks which await them in their ordinary life. For the faithful who have understood the meaning of what they have done, the Eucharistic celebration does not stop at the church door. Like the first witnesses of the Resurrection, Christians who gather each Sunday to experience and proclaim the presence of the Risen Lord are called to evangelize and bear witness in their daily life (DD, 45).

    The mission which springs from the Eucharist consists in calling those whom we can meet to recognize in the Risen Lord the centre of our life, the life of every creature and of all mankind. I know that in many countries we cannot say anything about our Christian experience, otherwise we will be charged of proselytising, but we can always and everywhere show our joy for having found the Messiah. If we fill with joy every brother or sister we meet in our life, we prepare ourselves to the final meeting with Jesus, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

    9. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Day of Rest

    Pope John Paul II had a concrete understanding of our particular situation concerning Sunday as the day of rest and he wrote:

    For several centuries, Christians observed Sunday simply as a day of worship, without being able to give it the specific meaning of Sabbath rest. Only in the fourth century did the civil law of the Roman Empire recognize the weekly recurrence, determining that on ‘the day of the sun’ the judges, the people of the cities and the various trade corporations would not work. Christians rejoiced to see thus removed the obstacles which until then had sometimes made observance of the Lord’s Day heroic. They could now devote themselves to prayer in common without hindrance... In countries where Christians are in the minority and where the festive days of the calendar do not coincide with Sunday, it is still Sunday which remains the Lord’s Day, the day on which the faithful come together for the Eucharistic assembly. But this involves real sacrifices. For Christians it is not normal that Sunday, the day of joyful celebration, should not also be a day of rest, and it is difficult for them to keep Sunday holy if they do not have enough free time (DD, 64).

    It should not be forgotten that even in our own day, work is very oppressive for many people, either because of miserable working conditions and long hours ... or because of the persistence in economically more developed societies of too many cases of injustice and exploitation of man by man (DD, 66).

    We understand from this text that "rest" doesn’t mean doing nothing, just to sleep, but to be with ourselves and with the assembly, to pray together, to balance and to revise our life, to adore The One who is the Only One who gives meaning and true happiness to our life. In a word, we understand that it is not the rest which generates the cult but the cult which generates the rest:

    Through Sunday rest, daily concerns and tasks can find their proper perspective: the material things about which we worry give way to spiritual values; in a moment of encounter and less pressured exchange, we see the true face of the people with whom we live... As the day on which man is at peace with God, with himself and with others, Sunday becomes a moment when people can look upon the wonders of nature... Believers are therefore called to satisfy this need in a way consistent with the manifestation of their personal and community faith, as expressed in the celebration and sanctification of the Lord’s Day (DD, 67).

    In the Eucharist the disciple rediscovers himself created by God the Father, redeemed by the Son and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. The Eucharist can be compared to the miracles that Jesus performed to heal humanity. In fact, in the Eucharist we are inserted in Christ and we find again true health: the freedom which is given us by the Holy Spirit.

    10. Are the Virgin Mary and the Saints obscuring
    the central role of Christ?

    In the Catholic Church we honour the Virgin Mary and the Saints very much. Very often we are misunderstood by other Christians on these very important points of our Catholic faith. We have to know that the Virgin Mary shared with Christ his saving work. From the very beginning to the end she was there at the most important moments of his life on earth.

    The Saints are people who prove that the Risen Lord changed their life; the resurrection of Jesus Christ became their resurrection. They are a concrete hope that where the Virgin Mary and the Saints arrived, we also can arrive if, like them, we are obedient to God and put into practice what the Virgin Mary said in Cana of Galilee: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5).

    The Holy Church venerates with special love the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, united forever with the saving work of her Son. In similar way, by inserting into the annual cycle the commemoration of the martyrs and other saints on the occasion of their anniversaries, the Church proclaims the Easter mystery of the saints who suffered with Christ and with him are now glorified. When celebrated in the true spirit of the Liturgy, the commemoration of the saints does not obscure the centrality of Christ, but on the contrary extols it, demonstrating as it does the power of the redemption wrought by him (DD, 78).

    Sunday is the celebration of all the family of God: the Virgin Mary, the Saints, all those who preceded us on this earth and all those who are still with us: Sunday is the day of joy and the day of rest precisely because it is the "Lord’s Day", the day of the Risen Lord (DD, 82).

    11. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is the Day of the Family

    Allow me to repeat here what I have already quoted above: For Christian families, the Sunday assembly is one of the most outstanding expressions of their identity and their ‘ministry’ as ‘domestic churches’, when parents share with their children at the one Table of the Word and of the Bread of Life" (DD, 36).

    This year, 2010-2011, we shall have as theme of our Pastoral Plan the family. The Unity Congress III (08-12 NOV 2010) will be concentrated on this subject. The various aspects and problems of the family will be studied and discussed on that occasion. I would like to remind here only the importance of Sunday for the family. Even though Sunday for us is a working day, can we not have on Sunday a special contact with our family: to attend a Mass in the afternoon, to pray together at home, to have a special meal, etc.; in a word, to make known to yourselves and your children that Sunday is a special day, not like any other days of the week. Forty years ago when I was a very young priest serving in Cairo I remember that every Sunday a French Lady of the Parish used to offer an apple to the priests (during that time apples were very expensive because they were all imported). Once I asked her the reason of this appreciated gift. She answered me: to make you to feel that we are in Sunday!

    Many years later I had another experience in Egypt. I still have good photos of that. A family, parents and four children, after having participated together in the Eucharist on Saturday evening, they were celebrating the Morning Prayer (Laudes) together at home. All dressed as though for the feast, they were praying and singing before a crucifix placed on the table which was covered with a white napkin and adorned with some flowers and a candle. They were really the "domestic church" mentioned above in the text of the Pope. Like this family, many other families in Cairo were doing the same. Besides that, they were using the occasion of Sunday to visit sick people, relatives, friends, etc. Sunday was the day of the meeting with God, the family and the Christian community. The Neo-Catechumenal Way had conducted them to be a domestic church.

    I wish for you all that Sunday not be only a working day, a day like any other, but the day of the renewal of your personal life and the life of your family.

    12. Conclusion

    I suggest as conclusion of this reflection on Sunday the reading of these two very beautiful texts of Pope John Paul II:

    The spiritual and pastoral riches of Sunday, as it has been handed on to us by tradition, are truly great. When its significance and implications are understood in their entirety, Sunday in a way becomes a synthesis of the Christian life and a condition for living it well. It is clear therefore why the observance of the Lord’s Day is so close to the Church’s heart, and why in the Church’s discipline it remains a real obligation. Yet more than as a precept, the observance should be seen as a need rising from the depths of Christian life. It is crucially important that all the faithful should be convinced that they cannot live their faith or share fully in the life of the Christian community unless they take part regularly in the Sunday Eucharistic assembly. The Eucharist is the full realization of the worship which humanity owes to God, and it cannot be compared to any other religious experience. A particularly efficacious expression of this is the Sunday gathering of the entire community, obedient to the voice of the Risen Lord who calls the faithful together to give them the light of his word and the nourishment of his Body as the perennial sacramental wellspring of redemption. The grace following from this wellspring renews mankind, life and history (DD, 81).

    From Sunday to Sunday, enlightened by Christ, the Church goes forward towards the unending Sunday of the heavenly Jerusalem, which ‘has no need of the sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light and its lamp is the Lamb’ (Rev 21:23) (DD, 84).

    My dear brothers and sisters, may God give you to experience always in your life the joy of Sunday and bless your children and all the members of your family.

    Your Bishop

    + Camillo Ballin, mccj

    Vicar Apostolic of Kuwait

    2 September 2010, fifth anniversary of my Episcopal Ordination.

    APPENDIX 1: From the "Catechism of the Catholic Church"


    I. The Sabbath Day

    II. The Lord’s Day


    2168 The third commandment of the Decalogue recalls the holiness of the Sabbath: "The seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD." 92

    2169 In speaking of the Sabbath Scripture recalls creation: "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." 93

    2170 Scripture also reveals in the Lord's day a memorial of Israel's liberation from bondage in Egypt: "You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out thence with mighty hand and outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day." 94

    2171 God entrusted the Sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable covenant. 95 The Sabbath is for the Lord, holy and set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on behalf of Israel.

    2172 God's action is the model for human action. If God "rested and was refreshed" on the seventh day, man too ought to "rest" and should let others, especially the poor, "be refreshed." 96 The Sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money. 97

    2173 The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the Sabbath law. But Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day. 98 He gives this law its authentic and authoritative interpretation: "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." 99 With compassion, Christ declares the Sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing. 100 The Sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God. 101 "The Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath." 102


    This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 103

    The day of the Resurrection: the new creation

    2174 Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week." 104 Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the Sabbath, 105 it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:

    We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish Sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead. 106

    Sunday- fulfillment of the Sabbath

    2175 Sunday is expressly distinguished from the Sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the Sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish Sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ: 107

    Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the Sabbath, but the Lord's Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death. 108

    2176 The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship "as a sign of his universal beneficence to all." 109 Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.

    The Sunday Eucharist

    2177 The Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church's life. "Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church." 110

    "Also to be observed are the day of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension of Christ, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christi, the feast of Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, the feast of Saint Joseph, the feast of the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul, and the feast of All Saints." 111

    2178 This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age. 112 The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful "not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another." 113

    Tradition preserves the memory of an ever-timely exhortation: Come to Church early, approach the Lord, and confess your sins, repent in prayer. . . . Be present at the sacred and divine liturgy, conclude its prayer and do not leave before the dismissal. . . . We have often said: "This day is given to you for prayer and rest. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." 114

    2179 "A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop." 115 It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ's saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love:

    You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests. 116

    The Sunday obligation

    2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass." 117 "The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day." 118

    2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. 119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

    2182 Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    2183 "If because of lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the Liturgy of the Word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families." 120

    A day of grace and rest from work

    2184 Just as God "rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done," 121 human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord's Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives. 122

    2185 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. 123 Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.

    The charity of truth seeks holy leisure- the necessity of charity accepts just work. 124

    2186 Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery. Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly. Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.

    2187 Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord's Day. Traditional activities (sport, restaurants, etc.), and social necessities (public services, etc.), require some people to work on Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure. With temperance and charity the faithful will see to it that they avoid the excesses and violence sometimes associated with popular leisure activities. In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees.

    2188 In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church's holy days as legal holidays. They have to give everyone a public example of prayer, respect, and joy and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society. If a country's legislation or other reasons require work on Sunday, the day should nevertheless be lived as the day of our deliverance which lets us share in this "festal gathering," this "assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven." 125


    2189 "Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Deut 5:12). "The seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord" (Ex 31:15).

    2190 The Sabbath, which represented the completion of the first creation, has been replaced by Sunday which recalls the new creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.

    2191 The Church celebrates the day of Christ's Resurrection on the "eighth day," Sunday, which is rightly called the Lord's Day (cf. SC 106).

    2192 "Sunday . . . is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church" (CIC, can. 1246 # 1). "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass" (CIC, can. 1247).

    2193 "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound . . . to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord's Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body" (CIC, can. 1247).

    2194 The institution of Sunday helps all "to be allowed sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their amilial, cultural, social, and religious lives" (GS 67 # 3).

    2195 Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord's Day.

    APPENDIX 2: Regulations on Fast and Abstinence

    1. Fast and Abstinence are prescribed for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, limited to the age between 21 to 60.

    2. Abstinence is prescribed as a general rule for every Friday in Lent, applicable to the age of 14 onwards. But for particular circumstances in the Vicariate of Kuwait, Abstinence is to be observed on Wednesday in Lent. Out of devotion Abstinence may be observed during the year every Wednesday.

    3. Eucharistic Fast: The faithful must abstain from solid and liquids for one hour before receiving Holy Communion. This regulation is applied to Masses celebrated in the morning, afternoon, evening or at midnight. Water does not break the fast. Those who are sick, even though not confined to bed, may take any liquid or food as medicines at any time before Holy Communion without asking permission.

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