How should a Catholic keep Sunday a holy day?


I’m in the process of converting to the Catholic Church. I was born and raised in a Mormon family and so was raised to keep Sunday (the “new Sabbath”) holy by refraining from all work as well as refraining from spending any money.

What is the proper way for Catholics to keep Sunday a holy day? Should a Catholic abstain from all work? Only physical work? Only work that is done as a chore or for a living? Should a Catholic refrain from going out and spending money on Sundays?

Thank You.


PS: The folks in RCIA told me that the commandment to keep the Lord’s day holy is “not relevant anymore”. They told me that all what is required is to go to Mass.

Now I’d hate to project my Mormon upbringing onto my new found faith, but this just doesn’t seem right to me. I feel as if Sunday should be a day set apart from the rest of the days of the week.

Are there any Catholic traditions as to how one should spend Sundays?


The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Sunday obligation: Eucharist

2180 “The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely ‘On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass’ [Canon 1247] " The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.” [Canon 1248]…

2181…"unless excused for a serious reason, for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor [Canon 1245]…

2183 if celebration of the Eucharist is impossible then either the Liturgy of the Word if available
"or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or, as occasion offers, in groups of families." [Canon 1247]

That’s the Mass/(prayer) obligation.
Next to other obligations etc


Thank you Trishie!

Are there any other things a Catholic should do (or abstain from doing) on Sundays besides the obvious Mass obligation?




Hi Bryan
Welcome, and God bless you
Warm regards, trishie

Specific to your question…
A day of grace and rest from work

2184 ‘Just as God “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done” (Gen 2:2) human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.’

2185 ‘On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. [Canon 1247] Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.’

2187 'Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day Traditional activities (sport, restaurants, etc) and social necessities (public services etc), require some people to work on Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside time for leisure. With temperance and charity the faithful will see to it that they avoid the excesses and violence sometimes associated with leisure activities. "

Although the Church also states that employers and public authorities ought to 'ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship"…

2188 …if a country’s legislation or other reasons require work on a Sunday, the day should nevertheless be lived as the day of our deliverance…"

The Catechism has the Imprimi Potest of the present Pope.

And I think you can take it as read that you’re not forbidden from carrying money…or some restaurants and sports facilities might take a dim view of not being paid! [see 2187! :slight_smile: ]

I hope you find some help in this reply.



The principles behind Catholic Sunday worship are based on these scriptures:
(a) Exodus 20:8-10, Deuteronomy 5:12-15
(b) upon Jesus’ teachings regarding the sabbath.

In speaking of the sabbath, Scripture recalls creation:
1, “The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord” [Exodus 31:15]
2, It commemorates God’s mercy in the liberation from slavery (in Egypt, but symbolically our liberation from the slavery of sin);
3, and it is a sign of the covernant between God and His people.

2173 The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the sabbath law. But Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day [Mark1:21; John 9:16]
He gives this law its authentic and authoritative interpretation: The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. [Mark 2:27]
With compassion, Christ declares the sabbath for doing good rather than harm…[Mark 3:4]
The sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God [Matthew 12:5; John 7:23 “The Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath” [Mark 2:28]

Bryan, I guess this perception of mercy towards others and ourselves as an important aspect of our sabbath worship is grounded also in Matthew 25, verses 31-46, part of which follows:

“The Last Judgement”
"When the Son of Man comes in all His glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men from one another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats.

He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. then the King shall say to those on his right hand," Come you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was a stranger and you made me welcome. I was thristy and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me; sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.

Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?
And the King will answer, " I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.” [Matthew 25 31-40]

While the Church can be very precise in its doctrines and canons, you may have observed that the Church does leave some aspects open to the authentic charitable interpretation of the individual, so that in such instances as these a person is free to apply the principles as best they can within the guidelines.

God bless you, Trishie


:eek: Oh my goodness, no! This seems like an attempt to re-write the First Commandment and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).

In addition to attending Sunday Mass… “The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord” (CCC 2168)

It is my understanding… that we should not do any unnecessary shopping or work, on Sunday. Of course… there are exceptions. Some people MUST work on Sunday (ER workers, Police, Firefighters, etc.). Others, may be caring for ill or elderly family members… and this may require unexpected trips to the pharmacy or supermarket… etc.

And of course, there is “necessary” work… cooking meals, etc., which is done on Sunday.

Hope this helps. God bless.


assisting at Mass of course
refrain from unnecessary work and shopping
spend time with family
devote at least some time to prayer, spiritual reading etc.

just about anything can be “quality family time” if the whole family takes part, including yard work, mall walking, a drive, nature hike, picnic, cooking a meal together.

doing good works is always appropriate, even if it involves manual labor, such as serving a meal at a drop in shelter, caring for the yard of an elderly neighbor, even better if family works on this together


Besides what the above have posted along with the scary economy coupled with many employers requiring that an employee be available to work on Sundays, if you find you have to work Sundays (to put food on the table and a roof over your head, as I have) you can - just speak with your pastor about a dispensation. In some instances you can avail yourself of a Sunday Vigil or one of the many times different parishes have Sunday Mass, however in my case with one employer I had, my work times didn’t fit any of them (and I wasn’t in a position to quit that job) so, after getting the dispensation, you can also use one of your times off (during the week:( ) to go to daily Mass - it doesn’t fulfill your Sunday obligation, however it may be the best way you can worship Our Lord.
We can only do the best we can do:shrug:


This apostolic letter by our late Holy Father, John Paul II, might be helpful:


Attending Sunday Mass shouldn’t ever be a problem (at least currently). Being a student I work weekends, Saturday morning and Sunday evening specifically, so I’ll always be able to attend either Sunday Mass or the Saturday evening Vigil.

Thanks to everyone who posted Church literature!



Yeah…I need to try harder to keep the day holy, as well.


you bring with you from your Mormon upbringing some solid family values, and keeping the Lord’s day holy is one of them, so don’t jettison the good. The stress on living out the faith within the family life, what we call “the domestic church” is one of those fine values, and keeping the sabbath is, outside of our communal worship, mostly an attitude carried out in the home and family.


Well, I’d say spend your Sunday resting, praying, reading, spending time with your family, doing charity work.

Don’t go shopping because by doing it you support the system where people working in malls don’t have the right to spend their Sunday with their families.
Same goes for restaurants etc.

It’s difficult for some people to do so, but I think that’s the right thing to do.


I work on Sunday, but since I work for the Church it includes going to Mass (sometimes all the masses). But I am also teaching, interviewing, dealing with questions from parishioners, preparing for baptisms, and generally running around. I come home and all I want to do is watch some football and have a nice glass of wine. - But I also have to cook and get things ready for the upcoming week - so much for relaxing on Sunday.


See this is exactly how I was raised, however in Mormonism its more mandatory than just a good suggestion. (Going to the restaurant on a Sunday is a very egregious sin in Mormonism).

I do have to work on Sundays IN a restaurant during the evenings, however I spend my mornings at Mass and then usually reading my scriptures.


I understand where you’re coming from. I do my best to manage my time as to not have anying homework or studying on Sundays, but sometimes its just impossible.


According to the Code of Canon Law:
Can. 1247 On Sundays and other holydays of obligation, the faithful are obliged to assist at Mass. They are also to abstain from such work or business that would inhibit the worship to be given to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, or the due relaxation of mind and body.


All Catholics should not work on the Sabbath.
It is a day for you to spend with God and learning about him. Also it is a day that you can help people less fortunate than yourself.


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