Updated: Feb 15, 2022
The Church has long taught that the Sabbath be reserved as a day of rest. In scripture, we see how on this day, the Israelites abstained from work for their own ends or interests in order to devote the day to praising and worshiping God.
Furthermore, in article 345 of the Catechism, [in regard to God’s act of creation in Genesis] on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, “that the "heavens and the earth were finished," and that God "rested" on this day and sanctified and blessed it.
In the New Testament, Jesus often performs miracles on the Sabbath. He does this as a direct response to those religious leaders who had reduced the sabbath to a logistical “do no work or face the consequences,” instead of emphasizing that the true purpose for the day of rest is to glorify and praise God for all that he has done, is doing, and will do for us.
While our modern-day “Sabbath” involves going to Mass each week, we have no strict adherence to various anti-work laws like the Israelites, but the concept of setting aside time to praise God and to rest from work is still important today. Specifically, I would propose that little “Sabbaths” can be cultivated throughout each of our days for greater rest and attention given to listening to God’s voice in our lives.
To cultivate intentional rest, we must take time for quiet moments of simply being in God’s presence. Perhaps we might take a few minutes in between tasks at work to sit back in our chair and take in a few deep breaths, focusing on our posture and quieting our minds from all the noise around us. Invite God into your mind and midst with the short phrase: “Lord, I’m listening” and then spend the next 1-10 minutes in silence, closing your eyes if necessary. After the allotted time you have given yourself is up, resume whatever it was you were doing before.
There is an ancient prayer called the Angelus that calls religious and lay persons to pray the prayer three times a day: once at 6am, once at noon, and once at 6pm as ways to consciously stop throughout our day to take a breather, focus on God, and collect our thoughts that can so often be operating on overdrive. The Liturgy of the Hours is another prayer form that is prayed at various times of the day by both religious and lay persons. There are specific prayers each day to be said at morning, daytime, evening, and night. There are also apps such as “One Minute Pause” that allow you to set specific times each day where the app will alert you that it’s time to stop whatever you are doing and take one minute to pause, relax, and call God to mind. If you find yourself with a little more time, I’d recommend devoting a space in your home to personal prayer or rest and spending a little time in that space each day, perhaps when you first get up or right before bed. For me, my space is a chair in my bedroom. I only sit in that chair when I am ready to actively pray, mediate, or listen to God’s voice.
These are just a few of the many ways you can cultivate a routine of rest throughout your days and give yourself permission to slow down and remember God.
Matthew 11:28 says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Rest does not have to be reserved for just one day a week, after we are long burnt-out or beaten down from a hectic week. The discipline we cultivate in removing ourselves each day – if only for a few moments – from the hustle and bustle of work has the capacity to yield much fruit, specifically by intentionally uniting our hearts to God in true rest.