Just the other day, I was visiting with a parishioner who was reminiscing about what Sundays were like as a child. It brought back my own fond memories of Sundays as a kid growing up in Saginaw. Sundays always started with Mass at 7:00 a.m. at St. Thomas parish. Of course, that really meant the day began much earlier in order to get everyone ready for church, but we were always on our way out the door by 6:40 a.m. I don’t recall this being a problem as a child, but I know it offered some challenges as a teen. I still grumble a bit when I think that the pastor changed the time for the first Mass on Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. shortly after I graduated from high school.
Mass was always followed by family breakfast. Most often we would gather around the kitchen table, sharing pancakes or waffles and all the goodies that go with them. Only rarely and only for very special occasions did we have breakfast at a restaurant. Breakfast was a time to chat, read the newspaper, and think about preparations for the remainder of the day’s events.
Breakfast was followed by Sunday-morning chores and perhaps time for some homework. There might be a snack late in the morning, but we were all waiting for the big event of the day: Grandpa Ezop’s arrival. Each Sunday, at precisely 1:00 p.m., my grandfather would pull into the driveway in his great yellow Buick LeSabre. Even though we had most likely just visited him at home on Saturday, grandpa’s clockwork Sunday arrival was something we eagerly anticipated. Usually there would be a little treat for me and my brother – and always something special for Freckles, our dog.
Many Sundays we would all pile into the cavernous Buick, while dad would pilot it on a trip through the countryside. In the spring and summer, there were often trips to the local nursery to purchase plants and supplies for the beautiful gardens that surrounded my grandpa’s home. Other times, we would simply drive out into the country to see the rich farm land or see the crops, growing in the fields. Summer and fall meant trips to local farm stands for fresh produce or a nearby orchard for crunchy apples. We rarely, if ever, went shopping on those Sundays – because it was Sunday.
The great Buick’s safe return to our driveway meant that dinner was next. This was an opportunity to gather at table, share a good meal, and listen to my dad and grandpa as they shared stories about work, or about what it was like to grow up during the Depression, or what things were like during the War. Dinner was followed by dessert and then it would be time for Grandpa’s departure for home. With leftovers in hand, he would climb into the Buick, toot the horn, and be on his way. Then it was time for dishes and homework.
As I think back on those days, they seem so idyllic. As a whole, Sundays were special days in our family. Those days offered us the gift of time to grow in relationship with one another as we shared a meal together. Those Sundays also provided us with the same opportunity to grow in relationship with God, as we shared in the Eucharist that began our day.
Sunday is not like any other day of the week. Sunday is a great gift to us from God. Perhaps this is why God calls us to set it apart, to make it special, to use it as a time for rest and growth – to grow in relationships both divine and human, each of them holy. And so, our journey in FAITH continues.
Father Dwight Ezop is editor of FAITH Magazine and pastor of the Catholic Community of St. Jude. E-mail: editor@FAITHmag.com.