Page 4, 31st January 1992

31st January 1992
Page 4
Page 4, 31st January 1992 — What's so specia about our Sundays?

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Organisations: USDAW Union of Shop
Locations: Manchester, Glasgow


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What's so specia about our Sundays?

WHILST I am not sure as to whether Fr John Owen (January 24) believes that Sunday should be the same as any other day or not, I am positive that he is selective in his quotes from canon law and therefore is misleading. He affirms "the only prohibition on work is that which would inhibit the worship given to God". The whole of canon 1247 states: "On Sundays and other holydays of obligation, the faithful are obliged to assist at mass. They are also to abstain from such work or business that would inhibit the worship given to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, or the due relaxation of mind and body."

There have always been and will always be people in a modem society who have to work on a Swiday whilst otheis can relax as individuals and as families. There is a fine line sometimes between what is necessary and what is unnecessary work in and for a community. It's hard to believe that a large supermarket's opening is a vital contribution to the Sunday enjoyment of people. Many customers, let alone staff, find such places hard and stressful labour!

Fr Ian Dommersen St Joseph's Church Chiswick DAVID Konstant's plea for restraint of Sunday trade (January 10) calls for agreement and disagreement.

The concept of a "day of rest" is presented as being precious and in need of protection, and acknowledged as such by both Christian and Jew. This is a fact of truth which was originated by God himself at the time of creation (Genesis 2:1-3) and is established in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8I I) as a day both "blessed" and "sanctified".

However, Bishop Konstant has his lines crossed when he suggests that Sunday is the "seventh" day. Sunday is the first day of the week which most Christians now honour traditionally as the day on which Jesus was resurrected. For this reason it has been called "the Lord's day". The Jews, however, still keep the original seventh day of the week, Saturday, as their Sabbath; also the increasing number of messianic or Christian Jews keep this day as their holy day.

Perhaps there is good reason within the Judeo-Christian faith recognising the whole of the weekend as having spiritual significance and as a means of blessing: the Saturday, or Sabbath, in celebration of creation (a pressing need now when mankind is destroying the environment and the very earth entrusted to their care) and Sunday in honour of the resurrection, the means through which Christians receive recreation as sanctified to the individual believer through baptism (Luke 23:5, 24:3; Romans 4:22-25, 6:3-11; and Phil 3:9-11).

Pastor David Lowe Christian Friendship Fellowship IN supporting Sunday trading, Fr Owen states that the new Code of Canon Law only prohibits work that would inhibit the worship to be given to God.

The Keep Sunday Special Campaign, however, sees far beyond the immediate needs of practising Christians and addresses the needs of the whole population. Fr Owen states that former church legislation prohibited servile work, ie work from slaves, not work from free men. But how free are people today?

In Scotland increasing numbers of shop workers are forced to work on Sundays or lose their jobs. They are not free. They are economic "slaves".

More importantly, with full scale trading on Sundays, other employers will soon follow suit and the rhythm of life will be lost. Weeks, as units of time, will cease to have meaning. As the number of people working unsocial hours increases the whole tradition of play on Saturday, rest on Sunday, in common with all one's relatives and friends, will become a thing of the past. Family life will be devastated.

Christianity has taken over the Jewish Sabbath rest and transformed it into something beautiful, a holy day, for all people to enjoy. Some work of course is essential (eg police). Other work (eg leisure industry) is not essential but enhances life for everyone else. Canon law gives guidance to these nonessential workers. It surely was never intended to open wide the gates for a free-for all seven-daya-week we're-never-closed place.

Hazel Naughton Aberdeen FR John Owen in his article on the Sabbath seems to underestimate the Jewish Sabbath. It was not a man-made observance, but according to scripture Genesis, Exodus and, of course, the Ten Commandments it was a Godgiven precept, ie a day of rest.

The Sabbath is a time of joy and home-liturgy, contemplation of holy things and a day of complete rest, but in no way was the Sabbath a period of gloom but a joyous affair with a family drawn together.

A Christian sharing the Sabbath in a Jewish household soon realises the air of joy and well-being.

The Protestant attitude to Sabbath (Sunday) in the past, as exemplified in Wales 50 years ago, was not of rest but negatively ascetic (a virtue or vice) never tolerated in Judaism. It is of interest that the most secular of Jews today still tend to keep the Sabbath as a day of rest and ingathering of the family.

To explain the Christian Sabbath it is not necessary to denigrate the Jewish Sabbath.

Graham Jenkins London NW 11 IT is quite wrong for your columnist, Fr John Owen (January 24), to pretend that the Sunday trading controversy is confined to England and Wales. Every west European country, except Sweden and, Scotland, prohibits most forms of Sunday trading in order to protect shopworkers and preserve the traditional Sunday as a common day of rest for family and social relaxation, as well as for worship and for sport.

More recently, the controversy has extended to Scotland, precisely because there are no legal restrictions on Sunday trading and more and more shopworkers are being forced to work regularly on Sundays against their wishes.

Archbishop Thomas Winning of Glasgow and other church leaders, as well as USDAW, the shopworkers' union, and representatives of small shopkeepers, are very concerned. They are calling for legislation on the lines of the REST proposals for the reform of the law in England and Wales.

The Sabbatarian laws enacted in the fifteenth and sixteenth century are another matter altogether.

The Puritan view, which would make Sunday a day without newspapers, or sport, or catering, is no part of the Keep Sunday Special Campaign.

What the supporters of KSSC have in common is a view that work should not be carried out on Sundays which can just as easily be done on one of the other six days in the week so that most people can enjoy a common day of rest and recreation and, if they are Christians, worship too. That is why the Catholic bishops support our campaign.

Patrick Junes Public Relations Officer USDAW Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers Manchester

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