In his important apostolic letter Dies Domini (“Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy”), St. John Paul II argues that to rest is to re-member (put together again) the sacred work of creation on the day set aside for worship, thus orienting times of rest toward a deeper contemplation of God’s vision of humanity. “Rest therefore acquires a sacred value: the faithful are called to rest not only as God rested, but to rest in the Lord, bringing the entire creation to him, in praise and thanksgiving, intimate as a child and friendly as a spouse.”[i]
The human need for rest is not a call for inaction or laziness. Times of rest need some form of activity to remove our minds and attachments from the workaday tasks that can too easily become heavy and uncomfortable burdens. St. John Paul II’s use of “in praise and thanksgiving” is shorthand for the celebration of the liturgy.
Embracing the Paschal Mystery
Liturgy, as the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, is the heart of Catholicism. It integrates the divine and the human, the active and the contemplative. “The Paschal mystery of Christ’s cross and Resurrection stands at the center of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world. God’s saving plan was accomplished ‘once for all’ by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ” (CCC 571).
[i] John Paul II, Dies Domini, no. 16.