When does the Christian Sabbath begin? Does it begin at first vespers or on Sunday?
In the Old Testament I think they talked about Avoda and Melacha. What does the Church say about those words?


The Catechism of the Catholic Church has:

Sunday - fulfillment of the sabbath 2175 Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ’s Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man’s eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:107

Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord’s Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.108
Sunday (and feast days) begin at midnight according to both canon law and liturgical norms, however the obligation may be fulfilled on the previous evening, as can be seen in the canon law itself, which states that the obligation is fulfilled on the evening of the day that precedes the feast day itself.
CIC Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass.


Are Catholics forbidden to shop on the Sabbath?


It is possible to shop on Sunday if you would not violate the following canon, with the exception of situations of moral impossibility, and caring for sick people, etc.:
Can. 1247 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 affairs 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.


Also The General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar (1969) from the Sacred Congregation of Divine Worship explains*:
**"*The liturgical day runs from midnight to midnight, but the observance of Sunday and solemnities begins with the evening of the preceding day."

So, the celebration of a feast day may be on the feast day or on another day. Also note that some celebrations are transferred to a different day, such as a solemnity that falls on a Sunday may be celebrated on the following Monday instead (but without obligation).


And as I note whenever this subject comes up, I have never, not once, not in the 1950’s nor since, have ever heard it preached that we are not allowed to work at our jobs when a holy day of obligation occurs during the work week.


It is always dependent on the individual work situation, if a day can be taken, for a holy day of obligation, for example, for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception or for Christmas.


The Church doesn’t even care much about those Hebrew words?


I have not seen any commentary specifically on those words in Hebrew. Strong’s H5656 abodah (Num 8:26), H4399 melakah (Lev 23:3)

Righteousness does not come from the law. Galatians 3:21–27

21 Is the law then opposed to the promises [of God]? Of course not! For if a law had been given that could bring life, then righteousness would in reality come from the law.t
22 But scripture confined all things under the power of sin, that through faith in Jesus Christ the promise might be given to those who believe.(“”)
23 Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed.v
24 Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian* for Christ, that we might be justified by faith.w
25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian.x
26 For through faith you are all children of God* in Christ Jesus.y
27 * For all of you who were baptized into Christz have clothed yourselves with Christ.


I know that in the Jewish tradition there are certain holidays such as Yom Kippur, and Pesach that work the same way as the Sabbath does. No work is permitted so these holidays are also considered Sabbaths in their own right even though they may or may not fall on Friday night into Saturday day.


Liturgically, feast days begin with First Vespers the evening before the calendar day.

For non-liturgical issues, the day follows the secular calendar.

The Day of the Lord (yes, we could call it the “Christian Sabbath” to distinguish it from the Jewish Sabbath), begins at First Vespers on Saturday evening. That’s how St John Paul II explained it in Dies Domini.
Ad liturgicam consuetudinem enim dies festus incipit eiusmodi Sacris Vespertinis. Propterea Missae liturgia nonnumquam «praefestivae» appellatae, quae vero reapse pleno iure «festiva» est, dominici diei est, instante etiam celebrantis officio ut homiliam sacram habeat et cum fidelibus precationem universalem absolvat.

The ICEL translation is more of an interpretation. He clearly says that feast days begin at Vespers, and that what happens in the evening is not “before the feast” but instead is the feast. He goes further to day that after Vespers, it (ie Saturday evening) is the “day of Sunday” or the “day of the Lord.”


The Hebrew language has two words for “work”–avodah and melachah.

Avodah is a general term meaning work, while melachah has a very precise meaning. On Shabbat, melachah is prohibited. Our Sages explain that melachah refers to the activities which were necessary for construction of the Mishkan, the traveling sanctuary which the Jews took with them throughout their desert wanderings.

The Torah specifically mentions two melachot, kindling a fire and carrying. The Mishnah further explains that 39 different categories of melachah went into building the Mishkan. While these categories of labor refer to the construction of the Mishkan, they actually encompass all forms of human productivity. These melachot are not a haphazard collection of activities, and do not necessarily represent physical exertion. Rather, the principle behind them is that they represent constructive, creative effort, demonstrating man’s mastery over nature. Refraining from melachah on Shabbat signals our recognition that, despite our human creative abilities, G-d is the ultimate Creator and Master.


The celebration begins on the evening of the previous day for Sunday and Solemnities, not on the actual feast day itself. This is stated in the liturgical norms and the canon law state that the day begins at midnight. The Holy Father states in the Latin not that the evening* is* the Sunday but that the liturgy “it is of the Lord’s day” (Missae liturgia … dominici diei est). Liturgical norms - Moto Proprio (1969): “The liturgical day runs from midnight to midnight. However, the celebration of Sunday and of Solemnities begins already on the evening of the previous day.”


You’re confusing different issues here.

From the time of Fist Vespers, the feastday (usually that means Sunday, of course) has already begun.

You’ve just quoted the Church documents that proves that First Vespers begins the feast-day.

At the end of your last post, the word “however” means that Sundays and other Solemnities are the exception to the midnight to midnight.


Not the beginning of the feast day, but the beginning of the celebration of that feast day.


In the Old Testament I think they talked about Avoda and Melacha. What does the Church say about those words?

In terms of the concept of “work”, the Church does not have the same specific list of definitions of prohibited “work” for Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, as outlined in the Torah or the Mishnah.

Unlike Judaism, which does prescribe specific definitions, rules, and even rabbinic regulations as to what constitutes “work” on the Sabbath, Christianity’s regulations for the general Catholic population are far less specific.

The Catholic regulatory rule book, so to speak, is called the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It gives only general instructions regarding Sundays as follows:

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.123 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.

However, the more spiritually devoted side of the Church - in monasteries and convents, for example – regulations, rules, and strictures are much more enhanced. For example, while Christians are not required to follow a kosher diet, some orders of monks, such as the ascetic and very strict Carthusians, require their monks to be vegetarian and adhere to a very rigorous and strict rule of conduct.

Perhaps the most well-known statutes for monks are found in a book entitled, “The Rule of St. Benedict”, which will give you a general flavor of the monastic life and its strictures.


No, the Church does not follow the minutiae of law concerning the classification of work on the Sabbath that were in contemporary use among the Jews at the time of the early Church.

As he was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.” Mark 2:23-28

One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there. After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.
John 5:5-18

In addition to this incident, there are other similar incidents where the religious authorities differed with Our Lord concerning what was acceptable to do on the Sabbath. It is very clear from the Gospels that the early Church had departed from the contemporary Jewish concept of what sort of work was allowable on a day of rest, and why.


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