shopping on sundays

never really got a definite answer about whether or not it’s a sin. some people say yes, other say no.

didn’t canon law say public buying and selling was prohibited on sundays at a certain time period?

and even if it has changed, is it something the church can do with it’s authority?

jesus never repeated the commandment of keeping the Sabbath and st. paul said that certain thought some days were holier than others and certain thought each day was the same.

I’m very confused on the issue

and it seems like most of what we think are leisure activities are causing someone else to work, like restaurants for example.

any thoughts? I’m trying not to be scrupulous but I also don’t want to be sinning either

I think it’s a great question, actually. To be honest, I’m not 100% certain. I think people should avoid shopping on Sunday if they can.

There was a good Aposotlic Letter written on the Day of the Lord by John Paul II called Dies Dominii. I need to read more than just bits and pieces of it.

I think we hurt Our Lord when we go out on Sunday and shop for things we don’t absolutely need or could easily obtain on some other day of the week. Some people, though, I think, may need to shop on Sunday. Others have a viewpoint?

I have read it, it doen’st mention any specific activities. so it’s hard to say

I don’t like shopping anyways but was just wondering about purchasing in general on sundays. this could include restaurants, of just getting a coffee, even even church fundraisers

For years, our Sunday routine has been to attend the 10 am Mass, have a little brunch, do our weekly grocery shopping, return home for some R&R, walk the dogs, have dinner, and relax in front of the TV until bedtime.

We don’t “need” to go out for brunch on Sunday; we don’t “need” to grocery shop on Sunday; we don’t “need” to walk the dogs on Sunday, and we don’t “need” to watch TV on Sunday…we do it for rest and relaxation…I think things done for rest and relaxation are not offensive to God, in fact I think he would be pleased that we are enjoying ourselves…even on the Lord’s Day especially when rejoicing in the goodness of these blessings.

Making the day a burden is exactly what Jesus was preaching against in Mark 2:27, when he says the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. It is to be enjoyed, not to suffer over.

His closest disciples mourned Friday and Saturday, after Christ’s death, but they rejoiced on that Sunday of the resurrection, and so shall I continue to do so!

but then the church did say we shouldn’t publicly buy or sell at a certain point and time. can’t dig up that particular canon wight now.

and what about causing others to work.

I’m just confused on the whole issue

I think - if an establishment is open and requiring employees to be at work it can prevent them from worshiping the Lord and keeping the day holy. So the argument then becomes that the person can tell their employer the need Sundays off…like that will work everywhere and not get you terminated. Well the then employee can go to work around their churches hours so they can worship and still work. Again, they are not keeping the day holy. But in todays world, you need your job and the pay for your family so sometimes people must work in industries that can otherwise do without (i mean such as Walmart, not patient care, hospitals, fire, EMT and such that are necessary.)

That being said, i try not to shop on Sundays however, i live an hour from town and church so yes i will occasionally stop on the way home to pick up some things, so i dont have to make another drive to town but i try not to.

I fear you may be crossing the line from confusion to scrupulosity.

The only thing I could find in the current code of canon law (canon 1247) says:
“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.”

So, I suppose someone could interpret that as meaning they shouldn’t shop on Sunday, but I don’t think that’s the intent of the canon.

I think in the previous canon, it stated public buying or selling

even if it used to be a sin, is it something the church can change?

I’ve no interest in being more Catholic than the Pope or telling other Catholics what to do with their Sundays. It’s a personal matter, I suppose, of a well-formed conscience.

Here are two fairly salient paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on keeping the Lord’s Day Holy:

***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. (2428)
The charity of truth seeks holy leisure; the necessity of charity accepts just work.124

2186 Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery. Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly. Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life. (2447)***

Hello Angell1.

This is a good question. I immediately thought of Dies Domini by St. John Paul II. Here is a clip from it that may help you:

67. Through Sunday rest, daily concerns and tasks can find their proper perspective: the material things about which we worry give way to spiritual values; in a moment of encounter and less pressured exchange, we see the true face of the people with whom we live. Even the beauties of nature — too often marred by the desire to exploit, which turns against man himself — can be rediscovered and enjoyed to the full. As the day on which man is at peace with God, with himself and with others, Sunday becomes a moment when people can look anew upon the wonders of nature, allowing themselves to be caught up in that marvellous and mysterious harmony which, in the words of Saint Ambrose, weds the many elements of the cosmos in a “bond of communion and peace” by “an inviolable law of concord and love”. (111) Men and women then come to a deeper sense, as the Apostle says, that “everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim 4:4-5). If after six days of work — reduced in fact to five for many people — people look for time to relax and to pay more attention to other aspects of their lives, this corresponds to an authentic need which is in full harmony with the vision of the Gospel message. Believers are therefore called to satisfy this need in a way consistent with the manifestation of their personal and community faith, as expressed in the celebration and sanctification of the Lord’s Day.

While the paragraph I cited doesn’t specifically answer your question, it should help you see the significance of the required rest you need on Sunday. I hope you read the whole thing. It will help you. Sunday is a Holy day, all day. I myself have had to go to the store on more than one occasion since becoming a Catholic on Sunday, but leaving it as a regular shopping day isn’t right. I follow the 2-hour rule when it comes to work on Sunday. If something has got to be done on Sunday, it cannot exceed this two hour limit. This doesn’t apply to those who have to work on Sunday by the nature of their jobs. It is how I was instructed to adjust my “woman’s work” in the home as a mom, etc. to the observance of Sunday’s holiness. I have more than one lazy bone, so leaving the dishes till Monday morning isn’t a big deal. I try to do everything I need to on Saturday and do not deliberately leave any chores for Sunday. Before becoming a Catholic, some chores were reserved for Sundays, like shopping, because no one was around and Walmart was emptier then and I could get in and get out quickly. I stopped that when I became a Catholic as well as laundry day, which was also Sunday. So was making a big “Sunday dinner” which always called for more than two hours work in the kitchen. I don’t fool around with this any more. It caused more than one mortal sin in my life. Yeah. I admit it. I’m no saint but am getting better at things. It called for adjustments, but I’m glad I made them. Shopping to me, is one of those chores that should be done on days other than Sunday and the temptation is to go shopping socially with Mom and Sis and a few friends, etc. during the holiday season. This is a nice bonding experience, but it shouldn’t happen on Sunday because you’ll very easily slip out of the two hour zone of venial sin and fall rapidly into mortal territory. BTW, it is a mortal sin to work on Sunday in excess and would need to be Confessed to. Same thing for Holy days of obligation. No work those days either if it can be avoided. So there ya are. I hope this helps.


OOOOPs. I should’ve read the replies before I posted. I wasn’t aware that Dies Domini had already been read by you. Sorry. :shrug:


Hello Neofight.

Judge not lest ye be judged. She isn’t scrupulous; she’s seeking an answer and doesn’t want to sin. Very commendable.

However, since you shared with the rest of us here how many chores you do on Sundays and the reasoning behind these selected chores, I can offer my opinion that you are not keeping the day Holy as you should. We are to do NO WORK on Sunday and to deliberately do so is mortal sin. Your offered example is not in keeping with this. And to suggest that *it is disordered *to not do chores on Sunday, such as shopping particularly mentioned, is a judgment not called for here.


So does this mean that as a nurse, if I have to work on Sunday, I’m providing a social service in caring for the sick and elderly, even though it is my job, I’m not committing sin?

You’re definitely not committing sin as a nurse, but it is important to try and get to mass still sometime during the weekend, and speak to your priest about it when you cannot.

LOL. Really Glenda? First of all when is scrupulosity a sin? So much for the judgment part of your disjointed rambling uncharitable diatribe.

But then I guess judgment is reserved for the self-righteous.

Typically I don’t have an issue making it to Mass. If I’m working day shift all weekend, I go to 5:00 Mass on Saturday. If I’m working evenings or nights, I go to Mass Sunday morning. Its the rare occurance when I’m working days on the weekend and have a commitment on Saturday evening that I can’t make it.

Hello Dan.

You are 100% correct. Certain professions require work 7 days of the week and all shifts: police, nurses, nursing home attendants, etc. and they are who the Vigil Masses are for and the reasons why there are Masses sometimes even in the evening on Sundays. So, no sin on Sunday if you are scheduled to work. Where sin may enter in is volunteering for a shift on Sunday when you could get your forty in other times because you’ll get double-time or some other incentive. But if you are in a position that you aren’t given a choice, then there is no sin. Read Dies Domini, it will help.

And thanks for you service to the infirm.


I wonder where people get the idea from that they can shop on Sundays? (Actually, I know it comes from priests who choose not to teach what they ought to teach, or understand what they ought to understand.) Clearly, if you shop on Sundays, others will have to do unnecessary work on Sundays and this makes the profanation of the Lord’s Day commonplace.

I think (I could be wrong) traditionally, it is only a mortal sin if the unnecessary work takes longer than two hours. Of course, if the work you do on a Sunday causes or tempts others to work it is more difficult to say when it becomes mortal.

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