“Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God.”
— EXODUS 20:8-10
Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word “Shabbat”, which literally means “to stop.” Keeping holy the Sabbath is not just a commandment, but an invitation. An invitation from the Lord to stop our work, stop our worrying, stop our striving. An opportunity to find rest and to be renewed. A chance to refocus on the things that truly matter - the Lord, family, community.
In our culture, Sunday has become a day to “catch up” on everything that didn’t get done during the week, and any time left over is often seen as an opportunity just to “get ahead” for next week.
During this pandemic the Lord is calling us back to Himself, offering us a chance to reclaim the gift of the Sabbath, reminding us again what it means to “keep it holy.”
A basic principle for observing the Sabbath is only to do things that can be considered “rest” or “worship”. Here are a few ideas to consider to begin more to enter into the Sabbath. Maybe pick just one thing to focus on this Sunday, then next Sunday keep that practice in addition to a second one. And then the next Sunday add a third, to slowly over time begin to enter into this great gift of the Sabbath more and more.
Keep the Lord at the center - read the Mass readings ahead of time, participate in Mass, make more time for prayer, spend some extra time in silence focusing on the Lord
Try not to work - resist the urge to check your email, or catch up on a few things, and leave it for Monday
Plan ahead - take care of what needs to be done before Sunday, so plan the rest of your week to make sure you get the laundry done, have gone grocery shopping, etc.so you don’t have to do any of it on Sunday
Spend the day “screen free” - try to stay off social media, internet news, and your phone as much as possible. If you can’t make it the whole day try to go for at least a few hours
Be intentional with others - if you live with others (ie. family, roommates), is there something you can do together like play a game or go on a hike? If you live alone, can you reach out to a good friend and catch up?
Come, Holy Spirit, come! And from your celestial home shed a ray of light divine! Come, Father of the poor! Come, source of all our store! Come, within our bosoms shine!” (Sequence for Pentecost). On this incredible feast of Pentecost we invite the Holy Spirit to come and dwell within us, to fill us with the abundance of the divine light, peace, and joy that only God can bring. The above verse comes from the Sequence Veni Sancte Spiritus – “Come Holy Spirit” – a venerable hymn sung in praise and supplication to the Holy Spirit immediately before the proclamation of the Gospel at the Mass of Pentecost. It contains a rich treasury of titles for the Holy Spirit couched in poetic verse: “of comforters the best, the soul’s most welcome guest… rest most sweet… coolness in the heat… O most blessed Light divine.” These titles describe the Holy Spirit by His effects in us. He is the one who brings comfort and consolation, rest, refreshment, light, joy, and strength. But it is easy to forget in the midst of such beautiful imagery that the Holy Spirit is also a Person!
Each day, take a few minutes to reflect on one title of the Holy Spirit. There are eight to choose from.
Begin by simply praying “Come, Holy Spirit” then ask the Holy Spirit to help you know Him more.
Read one of the titles of the Holy Spirit. Take a moment to reflect:
What does this tell me about the Holy Spirit?
What does this tell me about how the Holy Spirit wants to move in my life?
Spirit of Love - “... the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). The Holy Spirit is often described as the love between God the Father and God the Son, the Trinity as an “eternal exchange of love” and we are invited to be a part of that exchange.
The Advocate - “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always” (John 14:15). This word for the Holy Spirit comes from the word that refers to a defense attorney. The Holy Spirit comes alongside us to aid us, guide us, and defend us.
Spirit of Truth - “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me” (John 15:26). In a world of confusion the Holy Spirit comes to convict us of the truth, to lead us to what is right, and to bring clarity in the midst of uncertainty.
The Creator - “Send forth your spirit, they are created and you renew the face of the earth” (Ps 104:30); “You shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and make you come up out of them, my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may come to life, and I will settle you in your land” (Ezekiel 37:13-14). It was the Holy Spirit that moved over the waters in creating the world (Gen 1:2) and God breathed His life-giving Spirit into the dust of the earth when creating us (Gen 2:9). It is the Holy Spirit that continues to create, to bring about a new birth, to do something new in us if we will allow Him to.
The Comforter - “Sweet refreshment here below; In our labor, rest most sweet; Grateful coolness in the heat; Solace in the midst of woe” (Pentecost Sequence); “I, it is I who comfort you” (Is 51:12). Also called the Consoler, the Holy Spirit wants to be near to us in our sorrow and struggles, to bring us peace and joy.
Spirit of Adoption - “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Rom 8:14-15). In Roman Law a parent could reject a natural born child, but adoption of a child could never be undone. Through the Holy Spirit we are made sons and daughters of the Father, who loves us and claims us forever as His own.
Consuming Fire - “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love” (Pentecost Sequence); “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Lk 12:49). We see at Pentecost that the Holy Spirit comes as tongues of fire. Fire can be used to burn out impurities, or to make something stronger. The Holy Spirit wants to burn in us, filling us with His passion, to wholeheartedly pursue holiness.
Power of the Most High - “And the angel said to her in reply, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God’”(Luke 1:35). It was through the power of the Holy Spirit that Mary conceived the Son of God. The Holy Spirit wants to move in power in our lives, today, as well. We sometimes think of the Biblical miracles as something of the past, but all that God has ever done He can still do!
Think about how you can continue to reflect on God’s word to you this week, and how you can invite others into the conversation. You can use the questions below for personal reflection, or to grow with others. Be creative! You could consider gathering with friends and family, or starting a group text, or a group FaceTime, to discuss the questions below:
What stands out to you from the readings this week? What might God be speaking to you in this time?
Were you able to try praying prayers of praise this past week? If so, how did it go? What are your reflections on trying that?
How familiar are you with the Holy Spirit?
What are your feelings about the Holy Spirit being a Person you can have a relationship with?
Are there things that make it harder to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit?
Have you ever had an experience of the Holy Spirit?