Sunday Dinners, the Grinch, and Keeping Sabbath  

I recently walked past a grocery store display that sparked the idea for today’s blog.  The sign posted near the product suggests one can simply cook this item and have that Sunday dinner feeling ANYTIME.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not a hater…in fact I love the idea of people gathering around the dinner table.  I am skeptical, however, of the premise that any food can re-create Sunday.  Allow me to use the Grinch analogy to explain.

If you’ve ever read How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1957), you know that the Grinch learned an important lesson when his plan to prevent Christmas failed miserably:

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” 

The Grinch discovered that the members of Whoville still gathered together and gave thanks despite their losses. The true wealth and strength of the community had not been broken, just changed, perhaps even strengthened in these moments of adversity.

As Catholic Christians, we are familiar with The Fourth Commandment, Keep Holy the Sabbath.  On Saturdays instead of Sundays, our Jewish brothers and sisters also honor the sabbath in their faith tradition. An important part of keeping sabbath begins long before Sunday (or Saturday) dinner.  It’s the gathering as a faith community for Mass (or synagogue).  Sunday dinner for many of us is the endcap on a day that begins with prayer and thanksgiving.

Here’s a little Merciful Moments assignment for you.  Think back to your Sunday traditions as a child and compare them to your traditions now.  Are you doing something to make Sunday special?  It doesn’t have to be “Pinterest special,” but is there anything you do differently on Sunday to honor the sacredness of the sabbath?  I challenge you this fall to re-set your Sundays if necessary, to re-connect with sabbath.

This blogger has some fond memories of Sunday “family day” as a child.  I’ll bet others may remember Sundays beginning with church, an early Sunday dinner and Sunday drives often just for the scenery and nothing else.  The meals may or may not have been fancy, but there was some undisclosed ingredient baked right in that somehow made Sundays special.  Maybe that ingredient was love, or time, or hope?  I don’t know.  But what I do know is that I want to keep our Sundays special so that I never take sabbath for granted.  I don’t want to buy into an instant-gratification culture of having Sunday dinner when I want it and where I want it. I want Sunday just as it comes every seven days, gathered with our faith community at the start of the day and ending with family, together.









Morning News

I went to bed early last night and got up with the intention of sitting down to do some writing over the first cup of morning coffee.  After taking our dog outside and feeding him his breakfast, I ground the coffee beans as usual, filled the reservoir with clean cold water and then listened to the comforting drip drip drip sound that meant hot coffee was only moments away.  I settled onto the family room couch which is worn out, lumpy and covered with quilts and dog fur but still my favorite place on cold mornings to savor coffee, prayer time and the morning news.

The cozy feeling ended abruptly once I learned of yet another shooting, this time in Las Vegas, at a country music festival.  I waited until after I drove my teen to school before I had the energy to turn on the television for updates.  My husband texted from work, “Love you.  So sad about Las Vegas.”  I agreed, yes, so sad.  But my emotions are so much stronger than sadness as I write this today.  How can we, as humans created in God’s own image and likeness, inflict such pain and suffering on other human beings?  I was prepared to just post a photo on the blog of a single tear drop instead of an essay because I just don’t feel very hopeful or joyful this morning.

I proceeded to make meatballs for this week’s dinners and vegan-bread and fry some fairy tale eggplants that I’d picked up at a local farm stand a week ago.  With no early morning meetings scheduled today, I had the luxury of time this morning to seek refuge in our home kitchen, wiping tears away as I flipped the eggplant slices and watched the continuing news coverage on the little kitchen TV.  After everything cooled, and I packed the items away in the fridge, I knew I cannot hide in the safety of home all day.  I’ll have to go to work and put together a peace prayer for our teenagers who will meet for weekly faith formation classes later this evening.

The sad part is, none of this is new to me or you.   I remember putting together a peace prayer after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 as if it were yesterday.  A year later, I was at the Boston Marathon celebrating our son’s Army team’s completion of a ruck march one hour earlier when we learned of the bombings there and were filled with fear and shock.  With all public transportation shut down as a safety precaution, we had to rely on the kindness of others to get back to our car parked miles away at a train station.  In 2015, a San Bernardino shooting occurred during a  Christmas event at a workplace. We remember the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016 and the Ariana Grande concert shooting last spring…too many shootings.  Senseless, horrible violence.

Yesterday our sixth and seventh graders prayed The Prayer of St. Francis, which begins, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…”  Today, and every day, Lord, help me seek to understand the people I encounter.  In learning about who they are and what they are about, help me to learn to love them, embracing not just our similarities but our differences as well.  Help me to lead others to peace and love and not to intensify hatred and ignorance and divisiveness.  We are better than this, Lord.  Please watch over us and guide us.  Pray for peace, friends.  Pray for peace.