Today we're continuing with our new series, "Raising Your Kids [The Catholic Way]." You can find the first part of the series here.
This is not a new topic on this blog. I've shared with you many times before how precious Sundays are in our family. But this topic is so important that I had to share it with you yet once again.
(And if you're looking for more inspiration be sure to read Auntie Leila's "Sunday is for Rest.")
While we're at it, I'll share with you some lovely pictures from last Sunday's post-Mass excursion - strawberry picking!
Sister Stinky took this picture. It may be out of focus, but I absolutely love it!
College culture was kind of weird. Everyone worked hard all week long, and would crash and burn by Friday afternoon/evening. Saturday would end up being a day of sleeping in, and only casually attending to homework. And Sundays? Sundays were when people put their nose to the grindstone! A lot of people didn't even go to Mass until later in the day, and would be working on homework all afternoon long.
With our newly minted degrees, Andrew and I went....right back to school. The summer after graduation, we both were taking classes for our masters' degrees, and were counting down the days to our wedding. I would usually go over and hang out at Andrew's house (which would be our house after our wedding!), eat dinner, study until late in the evening, and then he'd take me back to my dorm so we could start the whole cycle of classwork over the next morning. Sundays were a bit of respite, because he would come and pick me up from campus and take me to Mass with him. Then we'd go back to his house for brunch (we were on a major waffle and bacon kick that summer) before we hit the books.
But after we got married, we realized....studying was no longer a "fun" date. We were a family now, and we had to be intentional about family time. I can't remember if it was right before or right after we got married, but we both kind of discerned it at the same time - we needed to start taking Sundays off.
Now, I don't know what your college experience was like, but ours was fairly intense. You just didn't do things like take a whole day off. And you certainly didn't take off Sunday, because Sunday was catch-up day before classes started up again on Monday.
But God kind of gently led us to consider Sunday as a day of rest, we talked about it with a priest friend, and poof! It became our day of rest. And that has made all the difference in the world for us.
I love seeing them work side-by-side. Whenever Andrew has to leave she always says, "But, you see, you don't leave...because I going to miss you!"
Andrew is still steeped in academic life, and he fast approaches the fourth year of his ph.D program. Most likely, since he's hoping to be a theology professor when he graduates - he will continue to be in academic life. For those of you who know anything about academic life, you know - there are no "regular hours." There are late nights and early mornings, and working on Saturday, etc. etc. Now, I have to tip my hat to Andrew in a big way, because he's one of those wonderful academic types who has really striven to put his family first. He has set hours that he works, and he tries his best to stay within those hours. He mainly works from home (as many fathers of young children seem to do in the academic life), and he takes time to check in on his family throughout the day. But academic life can engulf you if you're not careful.
I, on the other hand, am one of those people that always has to be doing something. I love keeping busy, and ticking through the tasks that must be done each day. And when I've finished what must be done, I enjoy doing things that I love doing. Although the up and down moods of little ones tend to overwhelm me at times, I don't mind the busyness of it, because I love staying busy!
So, when you combine the two of us...you can see how Sunday could easily be a catch-up day for us, can't you? There is so much to do when you're raising a young family, and so little time to do it in.
I'm guessing that many of you are in a similar position.
Like father, like daughter.
It is hard not to get things done on Sunday...but it is also freeing. Our whole family looks forward to Sundays. We look forward to starting our day a little bit slower, to spending an hour or more getting washed and dressed up for Mass. We look forward to driving to Sunday Mass, dressed in our very best. We love going for a drive and picking something fun to do together after Mass and before naps, sometimes packing our lunch for the road, and sometimes stopping to get a treat. But most of all, we love having a day to just be together - with each other and with God.
The culture we live in, with endless information and entertainment literally at our fingertips...it is so easy to get lost in that. You have to truly be intentional about being present to each other. And it is a daily battle, with all the distractions that we daily face.
Sad but true fact? I can eat little to no strawberries this year (and for the foreseeable future). Strawberries are high in oxalates, and high oxalates are a no-no if you get kidney stones. Rats. Going to pick them is still fun, though!
Sundays, though, are one of the most precious gifts we can give our children. Because, taking Sunday off is so counter-cultural. Yes, people will "relax" on Sunday - but they'll also run errands, get items done off their to-do list, and continue to spin in the circles they normally find themselves spinning in. Sunday ends up being little to no different than any other day. If anything, it is different in that it is a catch-up day. But to boycott it all? To say, "No, we're not going to shop on Sunday (with a few exceptions...we do stop at the grocery store or will go to a parish rummage sale or that sort of thing), we're not going to run errands, we're not going to do our chores. We're just going to have fun. We're going to let things go a bit and spend time with God and each other. We're going to let Sundays be a foretaste of heaven."
I don't know how this will play out as the girls get older. We don't want to be scrupulous about our Sunday rest, but we don't want to casually dismiss it either. Will we avoid sports that play on Sundays? Maybe. I don't think that either of us did growing up, so we don't think it's terribly wrong (provided that it doesn't interfere with attending Mass, of course!) but I don't know if we'll want that to be our focus. I think that Sundays are such a gift to our family, a reminder that, as we talked about recently: the world is not our home.
But however you can, I encourage you to set aside Sundays in your family, as a day that is different. In some families, one or both parents have the kind of job where they have to work on Sunday in order to support their family. But even if that is the case - and if you can work it so that it is not the case, please do so! - find some way to make Sunday special. The littlest things are the most precious. Let God's love be present in the love of your family on Sundays. Make Sunday the kind of day that, when your children grow up, they will look back on Sundays as having been their favorite day of the week. (Incidentally, I can easily say that about my own childhood! Sundays were like a mini-vacation once a week!) Make your own traditions, and let those traditions be done in a spirit of deep love. The first place that your sons and daughters will encounter the love of God is through you. Let Sundays be a day of great tenderness.
But don't get overwhelmed! Start off small, if that's more manageable. Pick one way that you will change your Sunday routine...and do it!
How do you celebrate Sundays in your family? How did you celebrate them growing up? What suggestions do you have for others wanting to make Sunday a day of rest?