THE Third Commandment bids us sanctify the Lord's day; but in what that

sanctification shall consist, it does not say. It is certain, however,

that it is only by worship, of one kind or another, that the day can be

properly kept holy to the Lord; and since interior worship is

prescribed by the First Commandment, exterior and public worship must

be what is called for. Then, there are many modes of worship; there is

no e
d to the means man may devise of offering homage to the Creator.

The first element of worship is abstention from profane labor; rest is

the first condition of keeping the Sabbath. The word Sabbath itself

means cessation of work. You cannot do two things at the same time, you

cannot serve God and Mammon. Our everyday occupations are not, of their

nature, a public homage of fidelity to God. If any homage is to be

offered, as a preliminary, work must cease. This interruption of the

ordinary business of life alone makes it possible to enter seriously

into the more important business of God's service, and in this sense it

is a negative worship.

Yet, there is also something positive about it, for the simple fact of

desisting from toil contains an element of direct homage. Six days are

ours for ourselves. What accrues from our activity on those days is our

profit. To God we sacrifice one day and all it might bring to us, we

pay to Him a tithe of our time, labor and earnings. By directing aright

our intentions, therefore, our rest assumes the higher dignity of

explicit, emphatic religion and reverence, and in a fuller manner

sanctifies the day that is the Lord's.

We should, however, guard ourselves against the mistaken notion that

sloth and idleness are synonymous of rest. It is not all activity, but

the ordinary activity of common life, that is forbidden. It were a

sacrilegious mockery to make God the author of a law that fosters

laziness and favors the sluggard. Another extreme that common sense

condemns is that the physical man should suffer martyrdom while the

soul thus communes with God, that promenades and recreation should be

abolished, and social amenities ignored, that dryness, gloom,

moroseness and severity are the proper conditions of Sabbatical


In this respect, our Puritan ancestors were the true children of

Pharisaism, and their Blue Laws more properly belong in the Talmud than

in the Constitution of an American Commonwealth. God loves a cheerful

giver, and would you not judge from appearances that religion was

painful to these pious witch-burners and everything for God most

grudgingly done? Sighs, grimaces, groans and wails, this is the homage

the devils in hell offer to the justice of God; there is no more place

for them in the religion of earth than in the religion of heaven.

Correlative with the obligation of rest is that of purely positive

worship, and here is the difficulty of deciding just what is the

correct thing in religious worship. The Jews had their institutions,

but Christ abolished them. The Pagans had their way--sacrifice;

Protestants have their preaching and hymn-singing. Catholics offer a

Sacrifice, too, but an unbloody one. Later on, we shall hear the Church

speak out on the subject. She exercised the right to change the day

itself; she claims naturally the right to say how it should be

observed, because the day belongs to her. And she will impose upon her

children the obligation to attend mass. But here the precepts of the

Church are out of the question.

The obligation, however, to participate in some act of worship is

plain. The First Commandment charges every man to offer an exterior

homage of one kind or another, at some time or another. The Third sets

aside a day for the worship of the Divinity. Thus the general command

of the first precept is specified. This is the time, or there is no

time. With the Third Commandment before him, man cannot arbitrarily

choose for himself the time for his worship, he must do it on Sunday.

Public worship being established in all Christian communities, every

Christian who cannot improve upon what is offered and who is convinced

that a certain mode of worship is the best and true, is bound by the

law to participate therein. The obligation may be greater if he ignores

the principles of religion and cannot get information and instruction

outside the temple of religion. For Catholics, there is only one true

mode of public worship, and that is the Sacrifice of the Mass. No

layman is sufficient unto himself to provide such an act of religion.

He has, therefore, no choice, he must assist at that sacrifice if he

would fulfil the obligation he is under of Sunday worship.