As for Sunday:
- The Catholic Church has always embraced the true meaning and spirit of the third (or fourth) commandment: In Exodus 20:11 (and Ex. 31:17), the meaning of the Sabbath is found in God’s creative act. It calls us back to the original creation, and thus, to God’s divine majesty and worship. In Deueteronomy 5:15, the commandment also commemorates God’s redemptive act in delivering the Israelites from the bondage of slavery. The seventh-day had meaning ONLY in that it was tied to these events, which God especially wanted the Israelites to “remember”. Thus, God prepared the sabbath day for the Jews to observe, and made it holy, symbolically representing their santification as well (Ex. 31:13).
Now one may ask, why have Christians observed the first day of the week as the Lord’s day, with even greater fervor than the seventh-day Sabbath? Think about it… The Lord’s day (as the first day of the week has been referred to since at least the dawn of the second century) expresses to a supernal degree the ultimate meaning of the Sabbath.
By His Resurrection on a Sunday, Christ (the New Adam) inaugurated a new creation… the dead are raised, men’s hearts were transformed, life and light and love are shining in their brilliance… the scriptures are clear on this teaching. More glorious than the creation of the original earth is the new creation that I am in the Risen Christ. This is especially true because of the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life, whose presence was first poured out upon the Church on Pentecost, also a Sunday (more on the traditional chronology versus the recent reinterpretation which you speak of (Wednesday-Saturday) in another post… I will say this, I believe the evidence is on the side of the traditional chronology).
Likewise, through the Resurrection Christ delivered us from the power of sin and death, arising in eternal glory. Christians commemorate their ultimate deliverance from the greatest enemies of all. Again, on Pentecost, the Church recieved the Spirit who is all our victory and power from Satan’s hold, whereby we are sealed.
Thus, the Catholic Church (very likely since Apostolic times according to Tertullian and possible references in the Didache, St. Ignatius of Antioch, Pseudobarnabas,and St. Justin Martyr) has venerated the first day of the week with the highest esteem. The first day of the week in a more glorious way points us to God’s new and eternal acts. It fulfills the meaning of the seventh-day Sabbath within the realities of the New and everlasting Covenant, and celebrates events which absolutely eclipse the events which the seventh-day commemorates (mere shadows of these newer realities). Keeping the Sabbath day’s rhythm (one day in seven) and more powerfully expressing its spirit (the commemoration of God’s acts), the Lord’s day has always been by the Church’s consistent teaching, a legitimate expression of the fourth commandment. In fact, throughout her history, it has been the prefferred expression.
Will you find explicit Scriptures that ackowledge this fact? No. But you will read that the apostles (and their successors) were given the authority “to bind and to loose”, which (apart from its obvious application to the sacrament of reconciliation) would have been understood as the rabannical power to interpret the Law and legitmately define its observation. By this power, granted to the Church by Christ Himself, the observation of the Lord’s day became a true and more powerful expression of the fourth commandment. And yet, Christian’s know that this application is sealed by the divine authority that spoke: “what you will bind on earth WILL HAVE BEEN BOUND IN HEAVEN.” As all Apostolic churches (Roman, Greek, Coptic, Syriac, etc.) concur, with the inspired councils and the church fathers… the Lord’s day is THE day. Christ arose on a Sunday, and met with his followers on consecutive Sundays (establishing our precedent of meeting together on that day), to pour out the holy Spirit upon them on a Sunday.
Is the Sabbath forgotten? As I said before, it is not… it continues to have meaning and is venerated by Christians. But it is so easily lost in the divine glory of the Lord’s day, because all it commeorates and anticipates is simply THAT powerful, and bound with the very heart of Christianity.