After visiting the topic of sanctifying Sundays in previous letters, Fr. Jonathan Loop, Principal of Immaculate Conception Academy in Idaho discusses the necessary preparations to be made on Saturdays:
Bill Walsh, the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s, used to relate that his star wide receiver, Jerry Rice, would regularly go to a park near his home at 6am in order to run routes. There would be no one else present. No quarterback throwing him the ball, no defender to humiliate, no spectators to impress. He was simply training himself when no one else was watching to be ready for every possible play that could be asked of him. It was this dedication to preparation of the smallest aspect of his craft that led him to be such a force on the football field.
If a man is willing to go to such lengths to prepare himself for a meaningless game, how much more ought we not be willing to prepare for the most important event of our day to day lives? How much time and thought do we dedicate to preparing the sanctification of each Sunday, which is infinitely more important than what happens on a football field?
This letter is intended to give more suggestions on how to ensure that we truly attain the goals of our Sunday: namely the consecration of the day to God and the cultivation of fraternal charity among ourselves. What are some possible means to do so?
- Go to confession as a family on Saturday
- This helps prepare each member of the family for more fruitful reception of grace the following Sunday.
- Furthermore, it can better serve to impress on the children the seriousness of Sunday, as opposed to members of family going to confession pell-mell throughout the week or on Sunday itself. As an aside, don’t underestimate value of children seeing their father go to confession.
- Cultivate greater recollection on Saturday nights
- Remove dissipating activities. From time to time - perhaps once a month - why not silence all music/videos in early afternoon? This may not be possible as a regular practice, but done occasionally it can help nourish a spirit of attention at the Sunday Mass.
- Get children to bed earlier than normal so as to be able to rise at a good hour. Also ensures greater rest and attentiveness at Mass. Helps Sunday not to be wasted by long nap.
- Read the Missal
- With older children, review propers of Mass, perhaps with guidance of Dom Gueranger or some other commentator.
- Discuss epistle and gospel. What is Our Lord teaching? What mysteries and virtues are there proposed?
- Why does the Church put this gospel lesson on this Sunday?
- Plan out your day
- Mark out time for family activities and healthy solitude.
- Schedule activities in advance. This ensures a greater regularity in your Sundays, which helps the stability and orderliness of your family life. It also prevents the day from becoming an occasion of mere dissipation and disorder.
- It can also give strength against the ease of falling into what we can call merely "passive" recreations, such as watching sports or movies for a significant portion of the Sunday. Even if these do not actively oppose the sanctity of the day, they tend to dissipate the soul and drive family members apart.
Again, these are merely suggestions; there are certainly many other ways in which you can fruitfully prepare to receive the graces the good God offers to us on the Lord's Day. It is true that some of these might require a reorganization of your time as a family on the weekends, but we must ask ourselves: what are our priorities? What is serious in our life, and thus what demands sacrifices of our time and energy?
In Christo Sacerdote et Maria,
Fr. Jonathan Loop