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Sins Against the Third Commandment

The precept enjoining upon us to sanctify the Sunday is transgressed:
1. By doing or requiring others to perform servile work.

The Christian ought to allow his servants and even his cattle, to rest on the Sunday (Exod. xx. 10). Servants, apprentices, and all who are in a subordinate position, ought not to remain in a situation where they cannot fulfil their religious obligations. Servile work is a mortal sin, if it be done for more than two or three hours on Sunday without urgent necessity. Yet hard work, if done for a shorter time, or light work for the same time, is not mortal sin; nor is it so if a not very valid reason is counted on as an excuse, nor again if a servant does what his master, without cogent grounds, requires of him, through fear of evil consequences to himself. In the latter case the sin rests with the master. If scandal is given by doing servile work, even for a short time, it is a grievous sin. Our Lord says of one who gives scandal, “it were better for him that a mill stone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matt. xviii. 6). God threatened the Jews most emphatically, saying that any one who profaned the Sabbath should be put to death: “He that shall do any work in it, his soul shall perish out of the midst of his people” (Exod. xxxi. 14).

2. By carelessness about attendance at public worship.

Entertainments given on Saturday are often the cause why Catholics omit Mass on Sunday. “What folly,” exclaims St. Francis of Sales, “to turn day into night and night into day, and neglect one’s duties for frivolous amusements!”

3. By indulging in diversions which are over-fatiguing, or which are of a sinful nature.

Games which involve much physical exertion, hunting, dancing, etc., ought to be avoided on Sunday; also those which lead to any thing unseemly; brawls, extravagant expenditure, disinclination for work. Worse still, if the amusements are sinful in themselves; for whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin (John viii. 34), and thus servile work of the most degrading description is done. Woe to him who chooses the day which is consecrated to divine service to offend against God and injure his own soul most deeply. Some people take advantage of the day of rest to indulge more freely in vice. Not unfrequently the devil leaves people in peace all the week, and when Sunday comes he tempts them to all manner of sin, pride and ostentation in dress, gambling, dancing, excess in eating and drinking. In the present day men seem to think most of eating and drinking on the Lord’s Day, women of adorning their person. How lamentable is the depravity of mankind, in thus abusing the most sacred institutions! On Sunday the devil of avarice is cast out, but it is as if seven other and worse devils entered in its place; the love of the world and all it entails; the frequenting of convivial scenes, disseverance of the ties of family life, squandering of savings, and dislike of work. “It is far better,” St. Augustine says, “that one should occupy one’s self with needle-work or field-work on Sunday than indulge in vice.” To spend the Lord’s Day in worldly vanities amounts to a kind of sacrilege; to desecrate it by sin is worse than plundering the sanctuary.


This article, Sins Against the Third Commandment is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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