A few months ago I wrote an article about our obedience to the spiritual principle of Sabbath-keeping. Since then, I have received a number of requests for an explanation of what a normal Sabbath looks like for us. Because I appreciate being able to peek into the lives of others, I am happy to share how we do things. We love our Sabbath. While every week presents its own variations on a theme, we do have a pretty consistent Sabbath harmony. What I love best, however, is that it is entirely our own plan.
Some readers have asked me to clarify what is and is not “allowed” on our day of rest. That just isn’t how we think of it. Instead, we think of how God desires to bless and rest us on a given Sunday and then we pursue those gifts. If you are discerning Sabbath-keeping for your family, let me encourage you to make it your own. Pray and seek Him. He will lead you to rest.
As a family, we wake around 7a.m., then either have a quick breakfast before the early mass, or the kids have quiet play time while Greg and I drink coffee and read some spiritual texts before the late mass. As a general rule, I like to read the mass readings with my coffee so that I can meditate on them as I get ready and then really hear them when we are at church.
After mass, we come home and have a brunch. Usually we try to have special and fun food for brunch like doughnuts or waffles, pancakes or omelets. This rich and “Sunday only” food requires labor from Greg and me, but we love cooking together and everyone loves the fruits of that labor. Usually the kids are sitting at the counter chattering away while we cook. As introverts, Greg and I would probably prefer to cook with classical music and relative quiet, but we also try to appreciate the tradition that is being formed with our children. Since I will want them to come for brunch when they are grown and gone, I have to appreciate them while they are here.
Then, because kids who have eaten sweet and fatty foods cannot “rest,” we find something active to do. Usually we go for a hike. In the intense summer heat, we sometimes opt to delay that walk until late afternoon. In the winter we may go sledding or snowshoeing instead. Provided that the weather is decent, we try to do something in the sunshine and fresh air because it energizes us and helps us to appreciate God’s great gifts of family and nature.
After our hike, everyone spends an hour in quiet, reading. Everyone chooses a room and curls up with a good book (or audiobook for the littlest guy). This is requisite for Greg and me to feel like we really have had a Sabbath. Going to church, making food for our family, going on a hike with kids… all of that is extroverted, and we crave quiet on Sabbath. By building this block of reading time into our schedule we communicate to our children that quiet is valuable and books are gifts.
If we have gone to the early mass and there is extra time in the afternoon, I will usually write letters or catch up on email, etc., while Greg plays some sport with the kids in the yard.
After our little rest, Greg and I make a hearty dinner. We hope it is one that will extend into leftovers for another day in the week. Again, the kids often sidle up the counter and ask to help in the prep. A hearty dinner really sets us up for a good sleep, and it just makes us feel good.
After dinner we either play a board game or watch a movie before family prayer and the kids go to bed.
It really is a simple day with a focus on faith, family time, good food, and rest.