Third Commandment: Remember to Have Leisure!

I was noticing the emphasis on the word “leisure” in The Catechism of the Catholic Church in reference to the Third commandment: Remember To Keep Holy the Sabbath.

2184 Just as God “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done,”121 human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.122

“Leisure” is an important word and one that should figure very large in the life of every man- and especially in the life of every God fearing person since it now appears quite clearly as something commanded by God on Mount Sinai. (I always respond more promptly when my wife tells me that I should do something because it was commanded on Mount Sinai. There is something about Mount Sinai that gives me the jitters- fills me with fear.)

If this doesn’t give you the jitters then what will?

Charlton Heston as Moses “Remember to have Leisure!”

Leisure is precisely the time that we set aside in order to cultivate our souls. Because it is set aside we say that it is free time- but we really have to take great pains to distinguish the free time of leisure from the free time that we employ for recreation or sleep.

We might just go ahead and define leisure as the free time in which we might pursue the things that perfect the human soul.

Again it is a mistake to simply think of leisure as free time, as most dictionaries do.

My favorite book that I have never read is definitely Joseph Pieper’s important work Leisure the Basis of Culture.

Now, certainly it is embarrassing for me to admit that I have never read this book- maybe I still will- but I feel like I can talk about it to no end. As a matter of fact the title of his book alone has provided me with many classes of discussion with many seventh and eighth grade students.

One has merely to walk into an ancient history class and ask

“How does civilization begin?” or

Why do some societies appear to advance and contribute more than others?” or

“Why is agriculture important to civilization?”

These are great questions that everyone should think about. And the answer of course to all three is the same, “Leisure!”

But the point is that we are to remember to have leisure.

God appears to be commanding this- so I think it is safe to say that the question about whether everyone is required to have leisure is really pretty much settled.

Again look at the CCC

2185 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body.123

The charity of truth seeks holy leisure– the necessity of charity accepts just work.124

and

2186 Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery…Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.

2187 Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day…but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure

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About marklangley

Academic Dean at The Lyceum (a school he founded in 2003, see theLyceum.org) Mark loves sacred music and Gregorian Chant and singing with his lovely wife, Stephanie, and their twelve children.
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