SUNDAY, April 11, 9004

Date of Publication Nov. 2004 WM1240

In this prepared speech, read to millions in Vatican Square and over the airwaves around the globe, Pope John Paul II focused on the importance of Sunday being kept by every Christian on the planet.

When you stop to think about it, Sunday is the most universally accepted Catholic teaching in the world. Because of a crucial decision made at the Council of Trent, it is the basis of Catholic authority; and the Vatican is well-aware of the fact. When the pope delivered this Easter sermon to an audience of millions, he could speak on any subject-but he chose to emphasize the importance of all Christians everywhere keeping Sunday holy. For this reason, we are reprinting salient portions of this Easter sermon. Notice that he repeatedly mentions that it is not the crucifixion (a Friday event) which provides our salvation; but the resurrection (a Sunday event) provides our salvation. You are about to read some of the arguments for Sunday sacredness, which will be repeated to you when the National Sunday Law is enacted. In our reprint, all capitalization, or its lack, is theirs. Brackets are ours.


"The Lord's Day--as Sunday was called from Apostolic times--has always been accorded special attention in the history of the Church because of its close connection with the very core of the Christian mystery. Sunday recalls the day of Christ's Resurrection. It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ's victory over sin and death, the fulfillment in him of the first creation and the dawn of 'the new creation . .

"The fundamental importance of Sunday has been recognized through two thousand years of history and was emphatically restated by the Second Vatican Council:

"Every seven days, the Church celebrates the Easter mystery. This is a tradition going back to the Apostles, taking its origin from the actual day of Christ's Resurrection--a day that is appropriately designated "the Lord's Day."

"The Second Vatican Council teaches that on Sunday 'Christian believers should come together, in order to commemorate the suffering, Resurrection and glory of the Lord Jesus, by hearing God's Word and sharing the Eucharist, and to give thanks to God who has given them new birth to a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead' (cf. 1 Pt 1:3).

"Sunday is a day which is at the very heart of the Christian life. The rediscovery of this day is a grace which we must implore. Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human . .

"The Lord's Day' is the day of this relationship [of praising and meditating on God] par excellence when men and women raise their song to God and become the voice of all creation. This is precisely why It is also the day of rest. The interruption of the often oppressive rhythm of work expresses the dependence of man and the cosmos upon God. Everything belongs to God! The Lord's Day returns again and again to declare this principle within the weekly reckoning of time.

"Although the Lord's Day is rooted in the very work of creation and even more in the mystery of the Biblical 'rest' of God, it is nonetheless to the Resurrection of Christ that we must look in order to understand fully the Lord's Day. This is what the Christian Sunday does, leading the faithful each week to ponder and live the event of Easter, true source of the world's salvation. .

"The day of Pentecost. . when the promise made by Jesus to the Apostles after the Resurrection was fulfilled by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit--also fell on a Sunday..

"It was again Sunday when, 50 days after the Resurrection, the Spirit descended in power . . Pentecost is not only the founding event of the Church, but is also the mystery which forever gives life to the Church . .

"Sunday is not only the remembrance of a past event, It is a celebration of the living presence of the Risen Lord in the midst of his own people . .

"It is important therefore that they come together to express fully the very identity of the Church, the ekkiesia [Greek word for "church"], the assembly called together by the Risen Lord . .

"This ecclesial dimension intrinsic to the Eucharist is realized in every Eucharistic celebration. But it is expressed most especially on the day when the whole community comes together to commemorate the Lord's Resurrection.

"Significantly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that 'the Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church's life.' For Christian families, the Sunday assembly is one of the most outstanding expressions of their identity . .

"As in every Eucharistic celebration, the Risen Lord is encountered in the Sunday assembly at the twofold table of the word and of the Bread of Life . .

"In coming to know the Church, which every Sunday joyfully celebrates the mystery from which she draws her life, may the men and women of the Third Millennium come to know the Risen Christ."

-Pope John Paul II, Easter Sermon, Sunday morning, April 11, 2004