Sunday Observance

Hi everyone,
I know that manual servile labor is not allowed on Sundays, but what about things such as going out for a coffee or eating out? It’s been very difficult trying to find a concrete answer. Thank you!

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There are seldom concrete answers because there can be circumstances rendering our ability to do or not do something difficult or impossible.

For example, we are to keep Sunday holy, with no servile labor, but what of nurses and aides and other workers who are needed on Sundays? Or take cows. They need to be milked and even mechanical milkers need to be offloaded, stuff needs to be packed and shipped and driven etc. etc.

Going out for coffee back in the blue law days 50 years ago was pretty much impossible, but today there’s a Starbucks at every corner, and even if it’s pickup only, somebody is working to get you the coffee. OTOH, for the person working, that day’s work goes to put food on his or her table, support for children, etc.

If you’re going out to a place (especially now, with so many places having lost business in the last few months), you’re pretty much assured that you are helping a LOT of people.

Remember, you have all of Sunday. You can think of the workers and commend them to St. Joseph; you can say an extra rosary and contemplate the Lord, plenty of things you can do to keep the day holy, not cause undue stress to others, etc.

So don’t ‘86’ your local restaurant today if you’ve gone to Mass.

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Going out to eat at restaurants on Sundays is described in paragraph 2187 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a traditional activity:

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 sufficient time for leisure. With temperance and charity the faithful will see to it that they avoid the excesses and violence sometimes associated with popular leisure activities. In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees. (source)

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The term “servile labor” has not appeared in Canon Law for almost 40 years, yet it keeps appearing here. I have seen replies here to such a question that would be appropriate for Orthodox Judaism, that so much as taking your family out for ice cream on Sunday wasn’t allowed. That’s a total distortion of what the Church calls us to do - and not do - on Sundays.

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You and I must be kindred spirits because I was thinking of exactly the same thing earlier this afternoon.

:thinking: What does ‘86’ mean?

It’s code for cancelling an item in restaurant orders and became slang.

Ie burger, fries, 86 onions.

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A concrete answer is in common sense. Billions of Holy Catholics have eaten out at a restraunt on sundays, or had coffee. The area surrounding the Vatican is commonly filled with priests, nuns, tourists, and even Popes who eat on Sunday. When we disect these things and scrutinize them in a legalistic sense what we are really doing is comparing outselves to others as more Holy than they are. It is a false way to follow God.

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