PHOENIX, July 18, 2005 ( – The Catholic bishop of Phoenix, Arizona, quoted in the Arizona Republic, told a congregation attending the most recent priestly ordinations that the world has suffered with the loss of the religious observance of Sunday as a day of rest. The article, which appeared in the July 17th Sunday edition, posed the question, “Whatever happened to Sunday?” It reflects the observation of many Christians that the day which used to be reserved to religious and family togetherness, has turned into “an extension of Saturday,” filled with errands invariably including shopping.

Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix said, “Keep the Lord’s day holy. . . refrain from all shopping and enjoy Sunday as a day of rest, a day of leisure, a day for family, a day for celebrating the Eucharist.”

The trend to the loss of the observance of Sunday is another feature of the general de-Christianizing of western culture since the end of the second world war. Some say it is one small symptom among others, but others see it as the thin edge of the wedge and one which may easily be reversed. According to a 2003 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as many as 33% of workers are at work on Sundays and holidays.

Steve Skojec, a married Catholic layman involved in the burgeoning Latin Mass community in Phoenix, says that his family as well as the other families involved in the traditional Catholic community take the Sunday religious and family observance as a serious part of their faith. Skojec, a realtor and father of two, told, that the observance of Sunday is worthwhile for its spiritual benefits. “For my wife and I, being in real estate, Sunday is a big money making day. But we feel, if we forego the ability to make money on Sunday, God will bless us.”

The work of restoring Christian culture is one that interests many young Catholic and other Christian lay people. The leadership of Christian communities can help by encouraging the growth of genuine Christian social and political movements such as pro-life activity, a project at which the new bishop of Phoenix has excelled.

The diocese, which has recently made the Latin Mass much more available, has also encouraged other traditional Catholic measures to counter the secularizing trend. Bishop Olmstead recently welcomed five sisters from the same cloistered order of nuns as Mother Angelica of EWTN fame to his diocese. Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests For Life was also recently featured giving talks on the right to life in a Phoenix parish. Bishop Olmsted is also often seen protesting outside area abortion mills.

Skojec, 27, implied that the observance of Sunday, what Catholics refer to as the ‘Sunday obligation’ extends further than merely attending Church services. He said, “To us, if we forego the ability to make money on Sunday, God will bless us. In our minds, the avoidance of temporal gain on Sunday is rewarded with spiritual blessings.”

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