The Catholic Requirement to Rest on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation

It has recently come to my attention that some otherwise well-educated Catholics are unaware of the Church’s teaching requiring rest on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation (hereafter simply Holy Days). This post is to help clarify the nature of the requirement.

1. Catholics are required to rest on Holy Days

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

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.

Code of Canon Law:

Can.  1247 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.

Moreover, they are to abstain from those works and affairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body.

Baltimore Catechism:

358 The third Commandment forbids all unnecessary servile work and whatever else may hinder the due observance of the Lord’s day.

2. This requirement is rooted in the 10 Commandments

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

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.”

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.

Baltimore Catechism:

354 By the third Commandment we are commanded to keep holy the Lord’s day and the holy days of obligation, on which we are to give our time to the service and worship of God.

3. Some circumstances can excuse Catholics from the requirement to rest

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

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.

Baltimore Catechism:

360 Servile works are lawful on Sunday when the honor of God, the good of our neighbor, or necessity requires them.

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About Joshua Michael

Writer. Catholic. Fan of John Henry Newman and the Inklings.
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