I have never before worked on a Sunday, but now my boss is asking me to do so, albeit only for about 4 hours. I don’t want to work Sundays but I think I ought just to keep my boss happy. Moreover, it would only be one or two Sundays a month. But is is morally licit to work on a Sunday?
I think it’s unavoidable in a lot of jobs nowadays, as the concept of a 5 or 6-day working week disappears in our secular society. You’ll still be able to attend Mass, and many people have to work on Sundays nowadays. At least it’s not for the whole day, and not every Sunday.
I’ll answer your question by sharing a part of my conversion story. As I was learning all the rules of the road I was going to need to live by as a Catholic come Easter, the one that perplexed me was about work on Sunday. I was a widow by then and had children. I worked a full time job nine to five, Monday thru Friday. I was fortunate that my job never required Sunday’s work. The weekends were catch-up time for all my other chores of taking care of a home and shopping and laundry etc. All that Women’s Work that I didn’t have time for during the week. I knew I was supposed to rest on Sunday which meant the wash I usually did on Sunday’s had to stop. That was obvious. But Sunday dinner was a big deal for me and the kids.
Then I was told the basic requirement was the 2-hour rule. I could do absolutely necessary work on Sunday IF it was less than two hours**. This meant a nice dinner but no laundry and only if the dinner and the clean up could be done in less than 2 hours. Otherwise I’d be working. Women’s work is harder to discern I think then men’s. But Dad can’t use Sunday to cut the grass either.
Here’s something else I found out in my attempts to learn how to keep the Commandment about rest on Sunday’s: those who are genuinely required to work on Sundays include doctors, nurses and cops and firemen, are excused and that is who the Vigil Mass on Saturdays is actually for. But the rest of us are expected to not work at all on Sundays.
You can tell your boss you aren’t willing to work on Sundays. You are risking mortal sin by doing so if you aren’t really required to be there. And your boss may realize he’s actually seeing a genuine Christian on the job and may see the value in someone who really does have integrity and morals. Having been a boss myself, that is a priceless thing to have someone you know you can trust who is really a responsible person with integrity. You’ll be a Christian witness in his or her life. There is a rank of the Blessed called Confessors and this is exactly how they get that distinction. Living a Christian Witness in all aspects of life.
So, if you turn it over to Christ, what do you get? Your boss has given you an opportunity to bear witness to your religion in a meaningful way. So don’t look at the loss of wages, look at what you’ll be losing by keep the Commandment to not work on Sunday’s and try to look at what you might possible gain by the witness of your life. Your boss’s soul for Christ.
Here is how I would approach this. Jesus once said that the sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath. I am a nurse practitioner and have worked many Sundays in my life. While I realize that my occupation put me in that group that are automatically excused from keeping the Sabbath rest, I think today many people should fall into that list of people who are excused if they must work on the sabbath! In today’s economy, I think you have to do what Jesus did when he was on earth and arguing with Philistines at every turn–use your common sense. IF you can avoid working Sundays without taking the chance of losing a job you need to feed your family and keep a roof over your head–then by all means, you should decline working on the sabbath. BUT, if in today’s economy, you need your job, and if you are reasonably certain that declining to work on Sundays may ultimately end with you being replaced–then work on Sunday. God doesn’t expect the impossible from us.
I think it depends on the nature of the work. Is it an office job or manual labour? Father Serpa recently answered a question about studying on Sunday where he made that distinction.
What’s the job? Is it possible to do the job and serve God at the same time?
Its a job in a shop, as Sunday opening is a common occurrence here. It’s so sad that people’s lives are so devoid of God that they feel a need to fill the Sabbath day with retail therapy. The worship of God has been replaced by the worship material. I don’t want to play a part in people’s worship of the material when they should be worshipping the God who made them and holds them in being. Thank you for your replies, I think I’ll tell my boss that they can shove my working on a Sunday, even if that puts me in their bad books.
You can work on Sunday if your job requires it. I learned that in second grade. I spent twelve years in Catholic school, and this was always taught.