This letter originally appeared on a website for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
By Archbishop Allen Vineron
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The Archdiocese of Detroit is in the midst of a “missionary conversion, a change in our culture, such that every person at every level of the Church, through personal encounter with Jesus Christ, embraces his or her identity as a son or daughter of God and, in the power of the Holy Spirit, is formed and sent forth as a joyful missionary disciple.”1 This conversion requires a re-examining of the way we live collectively as a community of faith. The Church in Southeast Michigan is responding to graces of Synod 16 and actively seeking to Unleash the Gospel in our personal lives, our families and through our institutions.
One of the clearest calls from Synod 16 was for our Church to reclaim Sunday as a day set apart for the Lord, for family and for works of mercy. There are many necessary and worthwhile pursuits which occupy our time and energy all throughout the week but from the earliest days of the Church, Sunday was unique for Catholics. In our time, Sunday has slowly lost its pride of place. In the Archdiocese of Detroit, we are committed to setting aside this day as much as possible for God-centered pursuits.
First and foremost, Sunday is the day of the Resurrection of Jesus to new life. It is the day that definitively marked Jesus’ victory over sin and death, and it is the day that represents that in Jesus we too share in this same victory through our baptism. Therefore, Sunday is not an ordinary day, not just another day of the week. Every Sunday is a mini-Easter Sunday! It is right then to say that Sunday is truly the Lord’s Day.
The first way we keep Sunday holy is through our worship of the Triune God. This is done most perfectly in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where we offer back to the Father the very life of the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, the disciples of Jesus made it a hallmark to gather as a community of believers on this day. The Code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church state that “on Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”2 This obligation to attend Sunday Mass-either on the day or on the vigil in the evening—is the most essential way we individually and collectively worship the Lord who gave himself for us.
Our communal worship flows out from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass into many other areas: “Sharing in the Eucharist is the heart of Sunday, but the duty to keep Sunday holy cannot be reduced to this.”3 Eucharistic adoration, personal prayer, reciting the Rosary, time for catechesis and Bible studies, faith sharing groups and the like all are ways families and individuals honor the Lord’s Day beyond Sunday Mass. We are called to live this whole day in recognition that we are God’s people, intimately united to him through the blood of Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
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