Q. 1. What is the Church teaching regarding working on Sunday? Has it changed like many other things that changed in the Catholic Church. Sunday seems to be the only time that I have when I can get some projects done around the house or the yard. My kids say I am not supposed to work on Sunday. Are they right?
A. 1. You should be proud to have children who are up to date on the teachings of the Catholic Church. Some things never change.
The Third Commandment says, “Remember to keep holy the Lord's day.“ Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work. [Ex 20:8-10; cf. Deut 5:12-15]
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (C.C.C.), # 2184, states, just as God "rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done," [Gen 2:2] 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. [Cf. GS 67 § 3]
# 2185 of the C.C.C. states, "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. [Cf. CIC, can. 120] 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."
Why did God command that the Sabbath be kept holy? 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.’ [CIC, can. 1246 § 1]” (C.C.C. # 2177) How are Catholics obliged to keep Sunday holy? They are obliged to attend Holy Mass on Sunday. They are to abstain from doing unnecessary work on Sunday. They are to avoid shopping on Sunday.
Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin. (C.C.C. # 2181) When you commit a grave sin, you cannot receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist until such time as you have confessed your grave sin. What kind of labour is permitted on Sunday? The following trades are exempt from the obligation of not working on Sundays: doctors, nurses, pharmacists, policemen, firemen, 911 telephone operator, prison guards, utility maintenance during major storms, etc... providing their working days cannot be rotated with another employee.
Projects around the house or the yard should be done during the weekday evenings, on Saturdays or during holidays. There is no project that is so important that it requires you to break the Third Commandment, “Remember to keep holy the Lord's day.“
If your place of employment requires you to work on Sunday, you should seriously seek employment elsewhere so you can show your respect for the Lord's day.