Saturday, August 9, 2008

On this day in history …

(Well, yesterday actually, since this is the small hours of Saturday morning)

I note that it was on August 8, 1984 that New South Wales permitted shopping on Friday night and Saturday afternoon (History section, The Daily Telegraph). This was lamentable in itself because it represented another concession to economic rationalism and consumerism and an encroachment on family time for the workers whom it affected, and also because it signified that Sunday trading was imminent.

With the fortieth anniversary of Humanæ Vitæ, we hear talk that as much as 80% of Catholic couples in America, for instance, might be on contraception; certainly there is widespread dissent from this teaching. But one wonders how many Catholics dissent from the requirement to abstain from servile work (or from availing oneself of others’ servile work) on Sunday. My a priori expectation would be that a good 90% would feel no compunction at doing so, and maybe fewer than 10% might scruple at it if it were to infringe on Sunday worship.

When was the last time one heard Priests or Bishops denouncing Sunday labour for its grave sinfulness? (If you have an example please mention it in the combox.) We hear condemnations of ‘racism’, ‘unsustainable development’, or whatever is the flavour of the month, but as regards sinful Sunday labour, the best we might expect would be expressions of unease at the 24/7 consumerist economy.

Yesterday was also the Feast of St. John Mary Vianney, the great Curate of Ars. I will never forget the image of Sunday labour that he offers:

“When I see people driving carts on Sunday, I think I see them carrying their souls to Hell.”

See http://saints.sqpn.com/stj18009.htm for more of his thoughts on the matter.

Reginaldvs Cantvar

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with pubs or restaurants being open on Sundays - they help people observe the Lord's Day.

+ Thomas Wolsey

Archieps. Eborac.

Cardinalis Presbyter S. Cecilae trans Tiberim.

Legatus a latere.

Louise said...

Surely it would depend on why they were drivivng their carts?

That said, it is indeed a matter of grave importance to set aside all unncessary work (I still havev to change my baby's nappies on Sundays - can't get around that) on The Lord's Day.

It certainly should be spoken of more.

Cardinal Pole said...

"There's nothing wrong with pubs or restaurants being open on Sundays - they help people observe the Lord's Day." ...

... except for the fact that the pub/restaurant workers must do sinful Sunday labour in order to serve their patrons.

It is impossible for me to see how retail/hospitality workers can work on Sunday without sinning gravely (objectively).

(Essential services workers like doctors, nurses, ambulance officers, defence forces, &c., are a different matter, of course. As are the chores, like those you mention Louise, that cannot be put off till another day.)

Anonymous said...

"sinful Sunday labour"??

Has the church ever said preparing Christmas dinner on Christmas day after mass (O.K., part preparing - a lot of it should have been done earlier) is a mortal sin??

Not to my knowledge - not even when I used to be an SSPX seminarian years and years ago. In fact, the brothers used to do it.

If it's not sinful on Christmas Day, why would it be on Sunday?

And, if it's not sinful for family members to cook on Christmas day, why would it be sinful to give Mum/one's wife/one's self a break from cooking on Sunday and go to a restaurant or pub?

Someone, somewhere, is going to have to do the cooking.

I think you're developing counter-Reformation scruples...

+ Thomas Wolsey

Archieps. Eborac.

Cardinalis Presbyter S. Cecilae trans Tiberim.

Legatus a latere.

Cardinal Pole said...

But York, as I mentioned in my last comment, there seems to me to be no sin in doing the chores--including, of course, necessary food preparation--that cannot be put off till Monday.

"And, if it's not sinful for family members to cook on Christmas day, why would it be sinful to give Mum/one's wife/one's self a break from cooking on Sunday and go to a restaurant or pub?"

Because it means separating someone else's Mum or wife (or Dad or husband, or son or daughter) from her (or his) family (and from God) and making them do your work for you. Or, to look at it another way: the twenty-four hours from midnight Sunday to midnight Monday are not yours to sell. They belong to The Lord (cf. St. John Mary's reflections, link provided in the post) and, by selling your Sunday labour, you steal from Him.

"If it's not sinful on Christmas Day, why would it be on Sunday?"

Now this is, for me, an interesting question. Is it only Sunday servile work that is sinful, or work on any Holy Day of Obligation? If so, which H.D.O.s, given that the only one that Australian civil law recognises is Christmas? I suspect that the Church may, similar to certain concessions to usury, concede permission to work non-sinfully on these days. But of course, my preference would be for all the major H.D.O.s to be civil holidays, with paid labour prohibited (except, of course, in essential services).

p.s. I am pleased to have a former SSPX seminarian (Holy Cross, I take it?) visiting here. May I advise you, though, to put your pseudonym in the 'Choose an identity' Name/URL slot (I thought at first that your first comment was actually a quotation from Cardinal Wolsey).

Anonymous said...

"Because it means separating someone else's Mum or wife (or Dad or husband, or son or daughter) from her (or his) family (and from God) and making them do your work for you. Or, to look at it another way: the twenty-four hours from midnight Sunday to midnight Monday are not yours to sell. They belong to The Lord (cf. St. John Mary's reflections, link provided in the post) and, by selling your Sunday labour, you steal from Him."

Sorry, Canterbury, but that's really stretching things.

To say that it's quite alright for one's wife/mother/whoever to cook on Sunday at home, but not some chef at a pub is the anwswer to the wrong question.

The right question is: Is cooking on Sunday necessary?

If yes, there's no sin involved; if no, then it's a sinful activity, regardless of where it takes place or by whom it's done.

AS for the holy Cure, well, he was stricter than the church I think. He thought dancing as such was sinful. Then again, the French church suffered seriously from Jansenism until the Second Vatican Council.

I'm afraid I have no intention of turning either Jansenist or Carthusian for 24 hrs each week, and I'm sure the Lord doesn't intend me to.

+ Thomas Wolsey

Archieps. Eborac.

Cardinalis Presbyter S. Cecilae trans Tiberim.

Legatus a latere.

Cardinal Pole said...

I am surprised that you appear to disagree with the logic that the twenty-four hours of the calendar Sunday are not one's own to sell, York. Have I misread you, or is this indeed the case? Put aside, for the moment, the question of the morality of Sunday servile work; do you think that it is licit to sell this work to others, for a profit, like on other days?

If you think that some paid servile work is permissible, then where do you draw the line? We would both seem to agree that essential services (ambulances, &c.) are licit, and you seem to think that hospitality work is too. What about retail trading?

Anonymous said...

Canterbury,

You're missing the point.

I think it has to do with the fact that you're a neo-Platonist rather than an Aristotelian/Thomist.

In all my life, whether in my conservative N/O parish, with the Benedictines at Ampleforth, with the SSPX in their seminary, at SSPX masses here in Australia, at FSSP masses here in Australia, at Indult masses here in Australia, it has never been mentioned that cooking on a Sunday, by oneself, or through the paid or unpaid agency of another is a sin.

I suspect the reason it has never been mentioned as a sin through such a diverse group of priests is precisely because, as I say, it is not a sin.

Never mind about the Cure's extravagances, there is only one relevant consideration, and that is where we draw the line: is the particular servile work necessary or unnecessary?

Once this question is answered, there is nothing further to consider.

As for selling/paying for one's/another's labour, this is considered under the general rubric of the virtue of justice, not of the particular application of that virtue in relation to God, i.e., religion. They are two different things. The operation of one does not exclude the other. Just because it is the Lord's Day, doesn't entitle us to exploit others.

+ Thomas Wolsey

Archieps. Eborac.

Cardinalis Presbyter S. Cecilae trans Tiberim.

Legatus a latere.

Cardinal Pole said...

"As for selling/paying for one's/another's labour, this is considered under the general rubric of the virtue of justice, not of the particular application of that virtue in relation to God, i.e., religion. They are two different things."

Different, of course. But not separate. Clearly I, for my part, have no problem with, say, ambulance officers working on Sunday and being paid a just wage. But as for the "particular application of that virtue in relation to God", God is owed, in justice, the twenty-four hours of the calendar Sunday. They are His possession, not one's own.

"... Once this question is answered, there is nothing further to consider."

But could you concede, though, that in, say, the hospitality industry there are so many intertwined tasks (some necessary, some not) in the discharge of one's duties as, say, a cook or bartender that it is virtually never licit for these workers to do these jobs on Sundays?

(That's all for now, I'll be back tomorrow.)