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Matt W. wrote:

Hi, guys —

My question is in regards to working on Sunday.

I've received mixed opinions and just wanted another insight, or just a response to my specific situation really.

I don't usually work on Sunday, but recently the people I work for called me and asked if I'd cover for a person who was away. I said I'd do it if they couldn't find anyone else, but I wasn't sure if even that was right.

My main reason for wanting to do it is to help them out, as they've done a lot for me and were pretty desperate for a fill-in. My family could really use the money as we're behind with our rent. The work is only for a few hours, so I'll still be able to go to Mass and dedicate the rest of the day to God.

Any help would be appreciated.

  • Given the circumstances, would God want me to help out and cover this shift or would it be better not to?



  { If I go to Mass, would it be OK for me to work on Sunday, since our family really needs the money? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Matt —

The best resource on this is St. John Paul II's Apostolic letter Dies Domini. Things are a bit looser now than they used to be and understandings have shifted which may explain why you are getting mixed opinions.

The Catechism is a good resource as well. It says,

2184 Just as God “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done,” (Genesis 2:2) human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives. (cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 67 § 3.)

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. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 120) 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.

The charity of truth seeks holy leisure; the necessity of charity accepts just work. (St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 19,19:PL 41,647)

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.

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.

2188 In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church’s holy days as legal holidays. They have to give everyone a public example of prayer, respect, and joy and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society. If a country’s legislation or other reasons require work on Sunday, the day should nevertheless be lived as the day of our deliverance which lets us share in this “festal gathering,” this “assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.” (Hebrews 12:22-23)

Catholic Church. (1997). Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd Ed., p. 529). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana


2193 “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound … to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord’s Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body” (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1247).

2194 The institution of Sunday helps all “to be allowed sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives” (cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 67 § 3.).

2195 Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day.

Catholic Church. (1997). Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd Ed., p. 529). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana

My personal policy is to avoid work except for emergencies and exceptional situations. I'd say covering for someone would count as an exceptional situation, as long as you can get to Mass either on Saturday evening or sometime at some parish on Sunday, and it sounds like you can.

It's important to strike a balance between not being to slavish or rigid about it but honoring the spirit of it as well.

Personally, I think you can take this shift without any qualms. My only concern would be that it might encourage them to pressure you into working more frequently on Sunday. You know the situation better though and have to make that call yourself.


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