Link to Dies Domini
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The Apostolic Letter Dies Domini
In 1998 Pope St. John Paul II wrote an apostolic letterto the bishops, clergy, and faithful of the Catholic Church throughout the whole world called Dies Domini, which means The Lord’s Day, on keeping the Lord’s Day holy. Have you ever wondered why we have to go to Mass on Sundays? The Old Testament tells us to keep the Sabbath holy, but the Sabbath is on Saturday, not Sunday. Plus, we have Mass every day of the week. Even if we do have to go to Mass every week, why not Friday, the day on which Jesus was crucified, or some other day, or why not just let us pick a day ourselves? As St. Jerome said over 1,500 years ago, “Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, it is the day of Christians, it is our day.” In this letter the Pope explains why Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is the “lord of days.”
He explains that Sunday is a celebration of the work of Creation, as it’s the day God began the work of creation. The original Sabbath was a celebration of the first creation, since God rested on the seventh day, Saturday, but the new Sabbath is Sunday, the first day, because in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus God is doing something new in the world, a new creation. He explains that Sunday is not only the day of the Resurrection, not only the eight day, the day of the new creation, it is also the day of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples in tongues of fire, happened on a Sunday, exactly 50 days after the Resurrection of Jesus. In the Pentecost the Church was born from the fires of the Holy Spirit, and so the Church comes together on Sundays to be renewed and re-born in the Holy Spirit.
The Pope explains what it means to keep the Lord’s Day holy. He reminds us that Sunday is a day of joy, a day of solidarity with family, friends, and community, and a day of rest from servile labor. The heart of keeping holy the Lord’s Day, however, is the Sunday Mass. As Pope St. John Paul II wrote, “For this presence (of the Risen Lord) to be properly proclaimed and lived, it is not enough that the disciples of Christ pray individually and commemorate the death and Resurrection of Christ inwardly, in the secrecy of their hearts. Those who have received the grace of baptism are not saved as individuals alone, but as members of the Mystical Body, having become part of the People of God. It is important therefore that they come together to express fully the very identity of the Church, the ekklesia, the assembly called together by the Risen Lord who offered his life ‘to reunite the scattered children of God’ (Jn 11:52).”
Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.