Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 21, 2008
Make a place for the Sabbath in your life
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
A recent article in Maclean's magazine reported on a study on longevity. What is the secret for a long life? The article summarizes the results of years of scientific research on this question and ends with nine hints for a longer, healthier life.
What should we do to live longer and healthier? The study suggests the following:
What's interesting about this list is that it expresses many of the challenges contained in the notion of the Sabbath. Scripture opens with the story of creation. God, we are told, made the world in six days, rested on the seventh, the Sabbath, and declared this day to be forever a day of rest.
There is a spirituality of time, work and rest contained in that. According to the theology of the Sabbath, there is to be a fixed rhythm for our days: We are meant to work for six days and then have a one-day sabbatical; work for six years and then have a one-year sabbatical; and, finally, work for a lifetime and have an eternal sabbatical, an eternity of resting in God.
Former generations, I believe, took this more seriously than we do today. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day. Until recently it was clearer that this is a commandment, not a lifestyle suggestion. Sabbath, until recent generations, was a day where ordinary life and ordinary activity were supplanted by different sense of time and activity.
What is Sabbath meant to be?
For an observant Jew, Sabbath means that the normal workday is suspended and replaced by a special time of prayer, family, celebration, leisure and enjoyment. In the Jewish spirituality, Sabbath is honoured by lighting candles, gathering in worship and prayer, blessing children, singing songs, keeping silence, walking, reading Scripture, making love and sharing a meal.
The recipe for the Sabbath is essentially the same for Christians. Many remember the Sunday customs of our childhood and how everyone would dress up (in their Sunday best), go to church to worship, come home and eat the best meal of the week and then spend the rest of the day with the family, usually in leisure activities.
Today we are considerably more casual and careless about observing the Sabbath and we are poorer, both religiously and humanly, because of this. Much of our tiredness and sense of being over-burdened comes from not having a regular Sabbath in our lives.
With this in mind, allow me to offer my own hints for longevity, hints based largely upon a theology of observing the Sabbath:
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