Opinions Expressed in "Rants," while informed by Catholic doctrine, are merely the opinions of the author.
Thou Shalt Take A Day Off
Do you know what Commandment #4 is? Take a day off.
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it"
Does that seem right? That “take a day off” should be as important as “Don’t KILL,” “Don’t STEAL,” “Don’t cheat on your wife,” and so on? Doesn’t seem to be even in the same ball-park.
After-all, which commandment is broken more than any other, especially in this culture? Who hasn’t shopped on Sunday, booked overtime on Sunday, prepped for the week on Sunday. Even I am writing this rant right now – on Sunday. Its seems like a victimless crime, doesn’t it?
God wants us to take a day off, to rest. I presume here that if Sunday is impossible, that another day should be taken instead – that seems reasonable. But what if we don’t need a day off? Will God be that mad at us?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been deliberately trying to DE-MYSTIFY CHRISTIAN MORALITY – take it out of the realm of “If we sin, God will punish us, because we offended him,” as though God were an ego-centric, very insecure parent, and instead lean towards a morality grounded in practicality: “If we sin, there will be negative consequences, that God wants us to avoid.” To me this makes a lot more sense, and is more consistent with a God of LOVE.
So given this, and given that there don’t seem to be any negative consequences to disobeying Commandment #4, we might as well remove it from the Decalogue altogether, right?
I unintentionally experimented with this particular edict, overwhelmed with an extreme workload, and arrogantly convinced of my own importance in completing it – and so I worked seven days a week, and didn’t take any days off, from late November up until December 12. And guess what happened Dec 13.
I got the worst cold I’VE EVER had – and after two weeks, it was pneumonia. I temporarily lost my voice, upon which I depend to do my job, and afterward my ears closed, resulting in reduced hearing – and is it ever hard to manage a classroom when you can’t hear. The consequence was immediate and extreme. And it wasn’t God punishing me either – it was my own body – nature – the universe.
Other consequences of breaking commandment #4 – strains on relationships and families, stress related health problems, suffering of the poor, overuse of the world’s resources, the list goes on.
I remember in the Bible, God, through the Prophets, told the Israelites that they would go into captivity in Babylon for 70 years, to make up for all the Sabbath years that they were supposed to take, and didn’t – to allow the land to rest.
Thing is, when we don’t take our scheduled one-day-a-week rest, and let those Sabbaths carry over, then our bodies will take all those Sabbaths for us, when we haven’t scheduled them, when its not convenient for us at all.
So, maybe Commandment #4, along with all the other Commandments, aren’t about us honoring God OR ELSE – maybe they’re about God taking care of us. Maybe we’d all be a little better off if we trusted God and listened to him.
And from now on, once a week, I’m taking one day off. Wish me luck.