Forgive Me Father, For I Have Sinned: A Catholic Confession on Sabbath

God knew what he was doing when he made for us a Sabbath: a day of rest for humanity. A break from the daily grind. A time to have some rest and peace -- true shalom -- with God.

The concept of Sabbath is a very old one in Judaism and Christianity. In the first book of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, in the first few chapters, God lays in place the foundations for an eternal, everlasting holiday made by God himself:

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.


When God revealed his ways to us, he gave us the command explicitly, repeated several times:

Say to the Israelites, 'You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.

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Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out.

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Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

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The seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.

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For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Does Sabbath matter to Christians anymore?


When I tell Christians of the wonderful rest I receive from God every Sabbath -- the special time I can spend in shalom with God, taking a break from the world and spending time resting and worshipping God -- I'm often retorted with a Pauline quip accusing me of being under the Law, not under grace, and a legalist. Ouch!

But what does Scripture really say? Well, the Hebrew Scriptures are quite clear on this, as you can see from the above quotes. The Hebrew Scriptures are part of the Christian bible, however, not all Christians follow Hebrew Scripture. So how about the Christian-specific part of the Christian bible -- the New Testament, the apostolic writings? What does Messiah have to say on the Sabbath?

The answer is that Messiah tells us that the Sabbath was created *for* us,

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"

He answered, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."

Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Master of the Sabbath."

If Sabbath was created for us, why are we ignoring it now? If Messiah is the Master of the Sabbath, why do we ignore Sabbath?

In the New Testament, the writer of the Christian book of Hebrews speaks of the relevance of Sabbath,

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.

His work has been finished since the creation of the world. He has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work."

In the New Testament, Paul also tells us not to let anyone judge us in regards to keeping the Sabbath or any of the festivals:

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.


Paul was undoubtedly hitting the same stifling religious spirit of the Pharisees, who rebuked Messiah because he had healed and picked grain to eat on Sabbath.

If Hebrews tells us a Sabbath remains for the people of God, then what happened? Why is there no real Sabbath, no real rest for us today? Instead of rest, most of us do all of our housework, shopping, and yard work on the weekend, we watch some football, maybe go to church, go out to eat, then call it a day. That's not rest.

That's not holy, either. In Scripture, holy comes from the Hebrew kadosh, which means set-apart. The Sabbath is not set apart for God in our western culture, but rather, it's ignored and made like any other day of the week, breaking one of the first commandments God gave to mankind.


If God's rest is so great, why did we lose it?


Well, the Roman Catholic Church -- in a kind of rebellion against the original faith -- broke from the Sabbath, the commandments, God's festivals, and all things "Jewish", replacing it with man-made holidays based around the existing pagan festivals at the time. Such was instituted at the outset of the 'Holy' Roman Catholic Church, starting with the first Pope [update: objections to this assertion, see footnote 1], Constantine, in 325 CE. Constantine, a sun worshiper himself according to his Mithra religion, had previously declared his sun-day the official, state-sanctioned day of rest:

"On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it oftne happens that another day is not suitable for grain-sowing or vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost."

-Constantine, Dies Solis decree, 321

Below is quotes from prominent Catholics regarding why they changed the Sabbath by their own authority.

Catholic Confessions About Sunday

  • Confession Number 1: The Catholic Church admits it changed God's Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.

Q. Which is the Sabbath Day?

A. Saturday is the Sabbath day.

Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?

"A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday." Peter Guierman, The Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine (1957 ed.), P. 50. Copyright 1930 by B Herder Book Co., St Louis. Used by permission.

"The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her Divine mission, changed the day (of worship) from Saturday to Sunday. . . . The Christian Sabbath is therefore to this day the acknowledged offspring of the Catholic Church, as Spouse of the Holy Ghost, without a word of remonstrance from the Protestant world." Editorial, The Catholic Mirror ( Baltimore ), September 23, 1893

"The Divine institution of a day of rest from ordinary occupations and of religious worship, transferred by the authority of the (Catholic) Church from the Sabbath, the last day, to Sunday the first day of the week, . . . is one of the most patent signs that we are a Christian people." James Cardinal Gibbons, The Cross and the Flag, Our Church and Country (New York: The Catholic Historical League of America, 1899), pp 24, 25.

  • Confession 2: Catholic authorities confess there is no Scriptural support for changing God's Sabbath to Sunday.

"Nowhere in the Bible is it stated that worship should be changed from Saturday to Sunday." Martin J. Scott, Things Catholics Are Asked About ( New York : P.J. Ken edy & Sons), p. 136 Copyright 1927 by P.J. Ken eday & Sons. New York . Used by permission.

"You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify." Cardinal Gibbons (for many years head of the Catholic Church in America ). The Faith of Our Fathers (92nd ed.,rev.; Baltimore : John Murphy Company), p. 89.

"Nowhere in the Bible do we find that Christ or the Apostles ordered that the Sabbath be changed from Saturday to Sunday. We have the commandment of God given to Moses to keep holy the Sabbath Day, that is the 7th day of the week, Saturday. Today most Christians keep Sunday because it has been revealed to us by the (Catholic ) Church outside the Bible." "To Tell You the Truth." The Catholic Virginian, 22 (October 223 1947),, 9.

"Q. Have you any other way of proving that the (Catholic) Church has power to institute festivals of precept?

"A. Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her;. . .she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh, day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority." Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism (3d American ed., rev,; New York : T.W. Strong. late Edward Dunigan & Bro. 1876), p. 174.

  • Confession 3: Protestants who keep Sunday as a holy day pay homage to the Catholic Church, since it was the Catholic Church that turned Sunday into a holy day.

"But the Protestant says: How can I receive the teachings of an apostate Church? How, we ask, have you managed to receive her teachings all your life, in direct opposition to your recognized teacher, the Bible, on the Sabbath question?". (The Christian Sabbath ) 2nd ed.; Baltimore ; The Catholic Mirror, 1893), p. 29, 30.

"If Protestants would follow the Bible, they should worship God on the Sabbath Day. In keeping Sunday they are following a law of the Catholic Church." Albert Smith (Chancellor of the Catholic Archdiocise of Baltimore), replying for the Cardinal in a letter of February 10, 11920.)

"It was the Catholic Church which, by the authority of JESUS CHRIST, has transferred this (Sabbath) rest to the Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord. Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves to the authority of the (Catholic) Church," Louis Gaston de Segur, Plain Talk About The Protestantism of To-day. (Boston: Patrick Donahoe, 1868), p. 225.

"Protestantism, in discarding the authority of the (Catholic) Church, has no good reason for its Sunday theory, and ought, logically, to keep Saturday as the Sabbath. . . ' John Golmary Shae, "The Observance of Sunday and Civil Laws for Its Enforcement." The American Catholic Quarterly Review, 8 (January, 1883), 152.

  • Confession 4: Catholic authorities claim the Seventh Day Adventist Church is the only major Protestant denomination keeping the Scriptural Sabbath.

"The (Catholic) Church changed the observance of the Sabbath to Sunday by right of the divine, infallible authority given to her by her Founder, Jesus Christ. The Protestant, claiming the Bible to be the only guide of faith, has no warrant for observing Sunday. In this matter the Seventh Day Adventist is the only consistent protestant." "The Question Box," The Catholic Universe Bulletin, 69 (August 14, 1942). 4.

"The Israelite respects the authority of the Old Testament only, but the (Seventh-day Adventist, who is Christian accepts the New Testament on the same ground as the Old viz: an inspired record also. He finds that the Bible, his teacher, is consistent in both parts that the Redeemer, during His mortal life never kept any other day than Saturday. The Gospels plainly evince to Him this fact: whilst, in the pages of the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles and the Apocallypse, not the vistige of an act cancelling the Saturday arrangement can be found." Editorial, The Catholic Mirror ( Baltimore ), September 2, 1893.

"What Bible authority is there for changing the sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week?

"Who gave the Pope the authority to change a command of God? If one follows Scripture alone, there's no question one is obliged to keep the Scriptural Sabbath, as it is prescribed by God himself to be kept holy.

With such strong-arming of God's commandments by the Roman Catholic Church, it is no surprise that the daughter of the Catholic Church, the Protestant church, inherited these man-made traditions that replace God's commandments. To this day, most Protestants continue in the ways of the old Catholic religion and disregard one of the first commandments in Scripture: to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Nonetheless, it is a terrible shame that the Protestant Reformation, which threw out many of the fallacies of the Catholic Church, failed to go the last mile and restore the Sabbath day. Instead we are left with the inherited lies of our fathers, the religion of man-made rituals that replace the things of God.


Footnotes:

1. *Update: A Catholic commenter asserts Constantine was not the first pope. At most, Constantine was the Roman Emperor, who founded what is now the Roman Catholic Church. I can't find any historical references to him being referred to as a pope; instead he was Holy Roman Emperor, a sun worshiper who, after his conversion to Christianity, mixed his former Mithra religion as well as various pagan religions of the Roman Empire in the creation of the new formal state religion of Rome, which later became Roman Catholic Christianity.


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20 comments:

  1. Amen to that Judah! What is funny, I even have a podcast coming out in Dec. about the very same issue.

    Continue to be bold and continue walking away from the traditions of men.

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  2. Excellent, looking forward to that podcast, Rick.

    Take care.

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  3. Who cares what day we rest on... Isn't the true point just resting and reflecting. If the Catholic church has it so wrong, why are you fixated on them.

    On a side note, didn't the Catholic Church decide what books went into the New Testament. Makes you wonder what books they may have excluded to their benefit.

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  4. Hi Anonymous,

    You said,

    "Who cares what day we rest on?"

    The answer is, God. God cares, that's what his commandment on this is very explicit -- it's the day God created for us to rest. There is a special spiritual, Scriptural rest in that day unlike any other.

    I'm not fixated on Roman Catholics; if you spend any time here, you'll see I also spend time talking about Protestants and Jews.

    Regarding your question about the Catholic Church and the New Testament, the Catholic Church has a New Testament specific to Catholics, containing books Protestants and Jews otherwise exclude. Yes, they certainly may have excluded books to their benefit.

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  5. Judah - I don't want to get into a long debate (I just don't have time)but wherever you cut and paste most of this post from has a few basic facts wrong.

    Contstantine was not a pope and was not the first pope.

    Gentile Christians began observing Sunday in place of the Sabboth as early as 107 a.d., not 325 A.D.(certain nasty prohibitions were promulgated during 325 but that is another story). We know this happened this early from the letter of Ignatius of Antioch from around 107 a.d. which is not disputed by any historian of any sort. Less clear is what Jewish Christians did...but the NT bible evidence seems to indicate that they observed both the Sabbath AND observed the "first day" or the "Lord's Day" on Sunday in their "house churches" where they broke bread together in holy communion.

    Your own comment that Catholics use a different new Testament is wrong. We use the same exact one. You're thinking of the Old Testament where we do have a few books Protestants and Jewish scripture exclude (they were part of the Septuagint which was used by the Greek speaking Jewish community in the time of Jesus).

    I have no problem with Messianic Jews observing the Sabbath.

    Peace,

    Adoremus

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  6. Hey again Adoremus.

    Thanks for the visit and comment.

    I don't mean to spread lies, so if anything is indeed wrong, I will update the post accordingly.

    You're right on at least one thing - I was mistaken about the Catholic canon. You guys do have other books in the canon, but only in the Old Testament, not New Testament. My mistake, my apologies for speaking wrongly.

    The reason I referred to Constantine as the first pope is simply because he founded and was the head of what is now the Roman Catholic Church. He is also father of what is now the modern Orthodox Church, as he founded the capital to the east, Constantinople. In effect, he created what became 2 new organized religions, both quite different than the original faith in Messiah.

    You're right that there were certain anti-Jewish forces going on very early; Paul warned of wolves among the sheep even in his day, and indeed, soon after the Temple was destroyed and the Christian center moved to Antioch, it soon became inundated with things against God's commandments, including the disregarding of Sabbath. Constantine merely made such things a state mandate, even going as far as outlawing the keeping of God's commandments.

    For what it's worth, it doesn't matter too much who practiced Sunday observance, whether Catholics, Protestants, early Christians, church fathers, or even the Pope. If that mattered, then we're putting men above God's word. God's word says this: remember the 7th day, to keep it holy.

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  7. That's right Judah. Man has changed so much. I would much rather be found keeping the appointed times of G-d verses the traditions of men.

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  8. p.s. Adoremus, can you comment on what is the Lord's Day? Is it supposed to be the day he resurrected?

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  9. Yes. You got it. The Lord's day is the Day of Resurrection.

    Adoremus

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  10. The day of Resurrection came just after sun down, Saturday night.

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  11. Rick - I agree. "Sunday" starts at sundown on Saturday. so to speak.

    Blessings,

    Adoremus

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  12. Judah - I have a question for you. What do you think of David Stern's commentary (and his translation of the NT)?

    Adoremus

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  13. Ok, fair enough about the Lord's Day. If one wants to celebrate Jesus' resurrection every Sunday, well, no problem.

    The important crux here is Sabbath, the day the Lord told us to rest. It is one of the first commandments God gave to humanity, it is in the Torah, it is in the 10 Commandments, a summary of the entire 613. It's hypocritical theology to reject Sabbath yet stand for the 10 Commandments.

    Regarding Stern's translation, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I appreciate the use of more neutral terms, and terms that may have been used; for example, Messianic Jews instead of Hebrews (few called them Hebrews, at that point in history). At the same time, I like translations that are very close to the metal, so to speak. It's hard to get NT translations that are close to the metal since the original Hebrew text of the gospels are lost, barring some manuscripts from Shem Tov and others.

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  14. Rick, the day of resurrection came after sundown, Saturday? Can you explain that a bit more?

    I'm thinking, Mark records Messiah being buried the day prior sabbath (Thursday night?). If he's in the ground for 3 days and 3 nights, that would mean he'd be in the ground until Sunday morning, if you're counting Thursday night as 1 night in the grave. What do you think?

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  15. I little interesting tidbit to all this: I was looking into the Sunday resurrection thing Adoremus was talking about, and found an interesting discovery from Luke's telling of the Good News, from ch. 23:

    The women who had come with Yeshua from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

    The early, die-hard devotees of Messiah were keeping the commandments and the Sabbath, even after Messiah's death! Excellent. :-)

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  16. Judah, Buried Wed. evening before the High Sabbath (Shabbat HaGadol) after Passover.
    Wed. evening to Thur. evening, 1
    Thur. evening to Friday evening, 2
    Friday evening to Sat. evening, 3

    Sunday- the first day of the week, the Eighteenth of Nissan: Yeshua rises from the dead at the beginning of this day (Saturday night). Early in the morning the tomb is visited.

    Yeshua was already gone when the women came in the morning.
    Morning when? Sat. 6:01 p.m.? or Sun. 6:01 a.m.?

    So, when did he arise?

    Sat. 6:01 p.m.?
    Sat. 9:00 p.m.?
    Sun. 6:01 a.m.?

    Sunday morning at His time is considered Saturday night to those in the U.S., right?

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  17. Very interesting stuff, thanks for that Rick.

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  18. Comments I made to a believer earlier this year...

    Directly from the Sid Roth site... www.sidroth.org

    "What is the Sabbath? When should the true Sabbath be observed? Should it be on Saturday according to Jewish roots?
    The Sabbath has never changed. God told us it was Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. What has changed is our understanding. We do not observe the Sabbath for salvation or righteousness, only for blessing. It is not necessary to have a service on the Sabbath. Personally, I take it as a day of rest and to be with my family. It is perfectly fine to have a worship service any day of the week. Be free!"


    My Comments,

    Most Christian get the Sabbath and Worship confused. Sabbath is the day of rest, it is given to us to renew ourselves and connect with the peace that God gives us on that day. This renews body, soul and the spirit within us. As a matter of a fact if we look in scripture...

    (Acts 20:7-8 NASB) And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. And there were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together.

    In the Jewish calendar, the day starts at sunset. The scripture says "on the first day of the week" which would have begun on sunset our Saturday. Furthermore in vs.8 we find that it was nighttime because "there were many lamps in the upper room ". So this could not have been Sunday morning or Sunday evening. So we find in fact that right after the ending of Sabbath (Saturday), the first century church met that evening to worship.

    Personally I do not like to have my day of worship and fellowship on the Sabbath, because if you come to think about it, how much work is it to get up, get ready, dress nice, drive to church, get involved in activities, greet people, have fellowship, eat (usually) and then drive home. By the time all this is over the day is gone. Hardly seems like a day of rest to me.

    So to answer your questions, you are not wrong for worshiping on Sunday, however if you do not take the day (Saturday) as a day of rest and renewal as the fourth commandment, then yes you are out or order. Short of it, it is perfectly fine to rest on Saturday, and worship on Sunday.

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  19. As for who should observer the Sabbath,

    The Sabbath is a mystery and a blessing.

    It is a mystery in what it is a shadow of.
    It is a blessing to those who observe it or enter into it. Both Jew and Gentile.

    Read Isaiah 56:2-8

    Isa 56:2 "How blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who takes hold of it; Who keeps from profaning the sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil."
    Isa 56:3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, "The LORD will surely separate me from His people." Neither let the eunuch say, "Behold, I am a dry tree."
    Isa 56:4 For thus says the LORD, "To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant,
    Isa 56:5 To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, And a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.
    Isa 56:6 "Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, To minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath, And holds fast My covenant;
    Isa 56:7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples."
    Isa 56:8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, "Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered."

    vs.2 - There is a blessing in keeping the Sabbath.
    Vs.3 - Even those “far off”.
    vs.4+5 – It is always in God’s heart to restore
    vs.6 – The Gentiles are included, all who would come.
    vs.7 – In joining all peoples, God creates a House of Prayer, you are starting to see this already. (see http://www.ihop.org)
    vs.8 – God gathers Jews from the nations.

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  20. Isquez, you put it so eloquently, you ought to put that in a blog post of your own. :-) Thanks for stopping by and posting that.

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