Creating A Sabbath Routine: Tips For Keeping It Holy

Creating A Sabbath Routine: Tips For Keeping It Holy

“…I think I’ll just stay home.”

I muttered those words often growing up. It was not until the Spring of 2016 that I was confirmed into the Catholic Church; before that, I grew up loosely Methodist and very rarely went to church on Sundays. For the past two years however, I’ve taken a dive into this Faith that the Holy Spirit guided me into and living liturgically has helped immensely with that. Mainly for two reasons: 1) living liturgically strengthens my catechesis and 2) it builds my excitement and confidence to mold my calendar around my Faith first.

So, while trying to keep a healthy spiritual detachment to all earthly things (emphasis on the word *try*), the first step to liturgical living – in my book – is to start with celebrating the feast we get 52-times a year: Sundays. But to reiterate: it’s not about living liturgically just to do it – the Heart of it is to bring us closer to God and in all things, attempting to abandon all parts of our life to Him. If you “live liturgically” truly, that will be the end result. We so often just group Sunday together with Saturday because our commercial calendars have trained us to. We no longer view Sunday as the Sabbath but simply one half of the weekend. Of all places to start living liturgically, this is one that needs to happen…yesterday. After all, it is a commandment (not a suggestion).

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy.” (Exodus 20:8)

“The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship “as a sign of his universal beneficence to all.” Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.” (CCC 2176)

Whether you attend Sunday Mass religiously (pun intended) or not – which…you should, we could all use a refresher on treating Sunday like the Feast day it truly is. Below are the steps I am taking to “re-train” myself to center my week around this Holy Day. Keep in mind that it can take a few months to really acquire a new habit (or to take up old habits again). While attending Mass is obligatory and should be treated as such in all cases, give yourself grace if one Saturday you forget to pray preparatory prayers or your favorite dress/suit is in the wash so you go with the next best outfit although it’s not quite as dressy. As long as you’re showing up to Mass with proper deference and reverence to the Eucharist, that’s all that really matters!

Start on Saturday

Many people who attend Mass on Sundays may already do this subconsciously but what I’m urging here is an intentional and very conscious decision to utilize Saturday, yes as a weekend day, but also as a day of preparation for Sunday. Sundays are Holy – it is THE day designated for us by God to come into union with Him. Yes, there is daily Mass which is good and beautiful but Sunday was specifically written into the Commandments. I’ve been particularly inspired by Maria Von Trapp’s story in her book Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family of the old tradition in Austria where they would “ring in the Feierabend” (as she puts it – Feierabend is a term for “end of work day/work-life balance” but in this instance is used to designate the upcoming Sunday). Church bells used to ring across Austria around 3 or 5 PM letting people know that it was time to switch over and prepare for the next day. Work would stop, foods were prepared, baths were taken…you get the idea: imagine a whole country of people doing these actions together in protection and celebration of Sunday.

So, how can we bring this back? The answer won’t be popular nor easy but it is straightforward – set aside time on Saturday to dedicate towards preparing for Sunday. Maybe to start you focus on cleaning/tidying the house up, getting clothes set out for Mass the next morning, and preparing with prayer (more on that below). Make a point to go to confession (and go OFTEN – at least a once a month) so that you can truly be in a state of a grace to receive Jesus. As time goes on and this becomes more routine, maybe we all step it up a notch and decide to dedicate more of our Saturday evenings to preparing for Sundays, maybe we get a little more dressed up the day of, and maybe we invite more friends and family to join us to make it what it truly is meant to be: a feast.

Prepare with Prayer

This particular idea isn’t new but how often do we pass up the opportunity to truly emphasize an event or blessing in our life with prayer? Prayer is ultimately discussion with God and I can’t think of a better blessing there is this side of Heaven than the Mass – why not honor that and bring it to Him in thanksgiving? Ever since reading Theology of Home, my senses and drive to create a welcoming, Catholic home have been heightened. Once again, this starts with Sundays – in the book, one of the authors mentions a visit to a farm in Virginia where every Saturday, the family followed a similar tradition to the Von Trapp family from above. During their prayer, however, they would go around and mention their blessings from the week, they would literally break bread and have wine, and pray a set of prayers specifically intended to prepare for Sunday.

Prayer is a full body experience – it helps us enter into that relationship with God mentally, emotionally, physically, and of course, spiritually. Set aside time once you’ve done your Saturday routine or traditions to sit down and enter into that space with God. Pray a Rosary asking for a heightened devotion to the Eucharist, find prayer from your confirmation or patron Saints that inspire you, and spend time reflecting on the week’s blessings, practice gratitude! Ideally, do this later in the evening before bed so that it’s the last thing you do/think before falling asleep – when you wake up, you’ll be in a better mindset to continue that routine of preparing for Mass.

Treat Mass Like the Big Deal It Is

So, it’s finally Sunday. How do we keep this momentum going? Well, for one thing, it’s a feast day! While there’s something to be said for keeping a peacefulness before Mass out of respect of the reverence of the Eucharist, that doesn’t mean one can’t be joyful about it. More and more people are doing this by starting to really dress up again to go to Mass and I believe that that is a beautiful outward expression of what’s going on internally – a celebration that we’re about unite with our True Love. Wouldn’t you want to look your best for that? Perhaps, you make a big breakfast to start the day off right, just be sure to leave 1-3 hours before Mass where you don’t eat to properly fast for the Eucharist.

Get to Mass early and pray some preparatory prayers (St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Ambrose have really beautiful ones). Take some time to gaze at the tabernacle and imagine a piece of Jesus’ Heart lying in there – because that’s exactly what will happen after consecration. Try your best to maintain this image and meditation throughout Mass (if you have children that might be easier said than done, and that’s okay!) Slow down, enjoy Mass for everything it is, take it all in as if you’re seeing it for the first time, and let the Holy Spirit guide you through it all. At the end, do not leave early. Don’t. Spend time after Mass to thank God for this blessing of the Eucharist – reminder: we’re actually called to do this as Catholics but unfortunately, over time it’s a practice that has fallen to the wayside as many people are rushed to leave. Don’t leave: spend at least fifteen minutes and take up the tradition of reciting the Leonine Prayers if your parish doesn’t already to that.

Feast, Feast, Feast!

I want you to pick something to do on Sunday to make it feel like a Feast: invite family over, make a fancy or comforting dinner with favorite foods, have a game night, spend time outside…do something that is distinct from what you would do during the week to celebrate Sunday and then make that a standing tradition. Every Sunday try to do that thing! For some, that could be taking the whole day to be at peace in silence and truly rest. For others, it could be inviting family over and making that your weekly game or movie night. Perhaps it changes with the Seasons – during Holidays Sundays could be more quiet and during Ordinary Time it’s spent with more people or vice versa. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure to make time to thank God for the blessing to be alive to celebrate Sunday! And get. to. Mass.

Every inch of my heart and soul has been craving a rhythm to life, one that offers peace, belonging, and security. The thing is: none of these are promised – this world is not our Home. It can be a lonely thing to live life constantly searching for Home knowing that you’ll never fully find one here. Yet, it is in that loneliness and fear that we find our trust in God and complete abandonment to His Heart. This has also led me to realize that the closest thing to a true “home” I’ll ever experience this side of Heaven is Mass. We need to do everything in our power to not take it for granted, to see it for the true beautiful Mystery that it is. We need to protect it and uphold it. We need to re-claim the Sabbath, not just for us, but for Jesus. It is the least we could do.

Celebrating the Alliance: 7 Ideas to Honor the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

“I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus.”

-Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque

If you’ve never heard of the First Friday or First Saturday Devotions, then learning to celebrate the Solemnities of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (June 11th 2021) and the Immaculate Heart of Mary (June 12th 2021) is a great place to start! While the First Friday and Saturday devotions occur all year long on the respective days of each month, there are also these days set aside to specifically honor the long-held (yes, even before Saint Alocoque) devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

It can be overwhelming to commit to attending the first Friday and Saturday of every month if you’re not used to frequenting Mass and Church events outside of the regular obligations but I encourage you to try anyways. Start with these Solemnities, make a big deal of them, read about them, maybe use some of the ideas below to really dig deep into these devotions and what they mean to you then when July rolls around start off the month continuing the devotion by attending First Friday and First Saturday if you’re able. If you can only do one, then do that! I’ll link below some websites that have more information concerning the history and tradition of these devotions for those interested.

Ideas for Celebrating the Alliance of the Two Hearts

Attend Mass on Both Days

Some parishes may have dedicated Masses scheduled or events outside of Mass you can attend but if not, don’t worry, the heart of this Devotion is based on personal consecrations to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. Read and discern over what is being asked in each devotion and then plan accordingly – most of the time one needs to go to confession, receive communion on both days, and offer up communion in reparation. For Saturdays, there is are added meditations and a Rosary!

Host a Cookout

Why a cookout? It’s Summer! One of the first ever liturgical celebrations I did was in conjunction with a small, young-adult group I was a part of not too long ago. This was also the first ever “larger” event that I hosted and I loved every second. Over time I’ve realized a small formula to help with hosting events to make them feel organic but meaningful: have something to eat/drink, something to do, and something to pray. Simple, but powerful! In the case of this cookout: we smoked BBQ while guests brought sides, drinks, and desserts plus yard games (“something to do”) and then we prayed before dinner. Should I do another in the future, I would spend a little more time in prayer and talking about the devotion but the rest of the evening was just wonderful.

Commit to the Devotions

As I mentioned before, a powerful takeaway from these Feasts would be to carry them throughout the year. I don’t think it’s coincidental that we’re being asked to dedicate the First Fridays and Saturdays. What better way to start out your month and align your goals, plans, and hopes? Make a point to schedule these in your calendar, take time off work if you need to/are able to, and maybe even make it a standing event with friends or family: every First Weekend is devoted to celebrating the Two Hearts and then grabbing a bite to eat or spending time together.

Practice a Penance in Reparation to the Two Hearts

In an increasingly gluttonous and hyper-stimulating world, I think it’s always good to practice fasting, abstinence, and penance to balance out all the worldly things being thrown at us. Perhaps you fast the days leading up to these Feasts or next month on the First Friday and First Saturday or at least abstain from meat. If you struggle with fasting: try giving up music, wearing a St. Thomas Aquinas chord, taking cold showers, or praying a full-crown of Rosaries. Offer whatever it is you pick in reparation to the Two Hearts – it’s similar to a friend buying you flowers or your favorite candy for you when you’re sad. They needn’t go so far to show their sympathy, just their presence would be enough, right? But the gesture emphasizes their intentions and that is ONE reason why penance is so beautiful (there’s many more but I digress…)

Home Enthronement

Schedule to have your home enthroned! It is basically a small event where a priest or group of dedicated organizers bring an image of the Two Hearts to your home. It is then blessed, the home is prayed over, and the image is enthroned in a place where it is seen often – some people may have it over their home altar if they have one while others may simply pick a wall that can’t be missed. We are essentially dedicating our earthly sanctuary to the Heavenly Sanctuaries of the Two Hearts. You are left with something that will provide protection, encouragement, and a powerful reminder in the most important place this side of Heaven: home.

Holy Hour

A part of what Jesus said to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque also included a plea to keep Him company on Thursdays. In and of itself, to keep Him company in Adoration (or prayer, if Adoration is not readily available) is a beautiful thing always! In the case of the First Friday and First Saturday or these Solemnity Days coming up – to have a Holy Hour on Thursday is a wonderful way to prepare. This way we can enter these Solemnities with a focused state of true repentance and offering.

Watch “For Greater Glory”

One of my favorite movies that I feel goes very well for this time of year, particularly these Solemnities because the focus on the Sacred Heart of Jesus is very clear throughout the movie. For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada (2012) is based on a true story – the Cristero War that took place during the late 1920’s in Mexico. However, the people the movie is based on have their own feast day that took place not too long ago on May 21st. If you’re looking for a movie that will inspire you to live out your Faith and life “for greater glory” this is it.

Let me know what traditions you might start this year! How will you be celebrating the Solemnities of the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart?

Resources

First Friday Devotion: America Needs Fatima – ‘The Nine First Fridays Devotion’

First Saturday Devotion: Catholic Answers – ‘First Saturday Devotion Requirements’

Holy Hour: Blessed is She’s ‘How to Make a Holy Hour Tips + Resources’

Feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus/Immaculate Heart of Mary: article explaining why we celebrate the two back-to-back

Cristero Martyrs: Saints of the Cristero War