Why Sunday and Not Saturday?
By Father Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
Q: What is the basis for the Catholic Church changing the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday? I need one that is biblically based.
A: Our Christian faith is based on the Lord’s resurrection from the dead, which happened on Easter Sunday. Jews celebrated Saturday as the Lord’s Day. Except for Seventh-Day Adventists, most Christians have judged it best to observe the Lord’s Day on Sunday.
Two quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church may help explain the reason for this change. “Jesus rose from the dead ‘on the first day of the week.’ Because it is the ‘first day,’ the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the ‘eighth day’ following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection” (#2174).
“Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ’s Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man’s eternal rest in God” (#2175).
Aren’t these reasons biblically based? The resurrection of Jesus is the key event of the New Testament. St. Paul writes in First Corinthians: “And if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (15:14).
Calendars in some European and Asian countries indicate Monday as the first day of the week and Sunday as the seventh day. I once found that out by assuming Day 1 on a German train schedule meant Sunday when it really meant Monday! Many U.S. plane schedules indicate Monday as Day 1.
Our Catholic Update “Sunday Mass: Easter All Year Long” (C0399) is a shortened version of Pope John Paul II’s 1998 apostolic letter Day of the Lord [Dies Domini] about celebrating Sunday.
The pope says that the Christian Sunday leads “the faithful each week to ponder and live the event of Easter, true source of the world’s salvation.”