The Catholic Church has five very ancient precepts (rules) which are expected of all faithful Catholics. These are detailed in Part 3, Section 1, Chapter 3, Article 2 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These rules are defined, by the Church, as the minimum by which a person may be considered a faithful Catholic:
The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor CCC 2041], emphasis mine
What I want to discuss is this:
The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days CCC 2042], emphasis mine.
The Catechism cites Canon 1247, which states:
On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.
Moreover, they are to abstain from those works and aVairs [huh???] which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body CIC 1247]
The Catechism also cites the 1990 Code of Canons of Oriental Churches, cann. 881 § 1, § 2, § 4, which read:
Canon 881 - §1. The Christian faithful are bound by the obligation to participate on Sundays and feast days in the Divine Liturgy, or according to the prescriptions or legitimate customs of their own Church sui iuris, in the celebration of the divine praises.
§2. In order for the Christian faithful to fulfill this obligation more easily, the available time runs from the evening of the vigil until the end of the Sunday or feast day.
§4. The Christian faithful should abstain from those labors or business matters which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord’s day, or to the proper relaxation of mind and body.
(The CCC omits CCEO #881 §3: The Christian faithful are strongly recommended to receive the Divine Eucharist on these days and indeed more frequently, even daily.)
**OK, so here is what I want to discuss. If I attend Mass on Sunday at 10:00 am, what am I expected to NOT do the rest of the day? If I wash dishes, do I violate the first precept of the Church? If I water my lawn, do I violate the precept (even if I enjoy watering my lawn?)
If I mow my lawn (which I dislike doing), am I violating the precept? I could watch football instead (which I greatly prefer), so am I doing good by watching football instead of mowing the grass that needs mowing?
This precept has its roots in the Jewish observance of the Sabbath, and not working on the Sabbath. Jesus was accused of violating this rule. Some Jews take this very seriously. Lighting a lamp was considered by some Jews to be work, so they did not light lamps on the Sabbath. Some modern Jews carry this so far as to unscrew the light bulb in their refrigerators on Friday, because opening the fridge on Saturday (and turning on the internal light) would be considered work. Clearly, the Catholic Church does not carry this precept to this extreme. But exactly how extreme is this precept?
How does a faithful Catholic fulfill the first precept of the Church?**