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A good example from Saint Louis Martin:

It seems appropriate to follow two posts on St. Louis Martin with one more to round out a trilogy of good examples. Surely we have ample material recorded on this holy role model to keep us occupied for many months, but we will limit ourselves to a third and final post for now. If you missed the first two, you can find them here: Nickname Your Children and Schedule Family Prayer.

Louis was a skilled watchmaker who owned a profitable jewelry shop. His wife Zelie wrote the following about him to a relative:

“Very often I admire the strictness of Louis, and I say to myself: ‘There’s a man who never tried to amass a fortune.’ When he was starting in business, his confessor suggested to him – so he told me – to open his jewelry store on Sundays until noon. But Louis never wanted to use that permission preferring rather to lose business. In spite of that he has become rich. I can attribute his comfortable financial position to no other cause than a special blessing of God, a result of his faithful observance of Sunday.”

Louis’ friends believed that he sometimes went too far in his observance of the Lord’s Day. They insisted that he should open his jewelry shop on Sundays and holidays, at least by a back door, pointing out that he was losing many opportunities for good business. Louis refused to do so.

Not only did Louis abstain from selling on Sundays and holy days, but he also abstained from buying anything. On one occasion, he noticed an item on sale that he wanted, so he asked the seller to hold it for him until the following day. One of his daughters, Celine, points out that for this reason the family always had stale bread on Sundays since it had to be bought the preceding day. It was also a rare occasion for the family to undertake a journey on Sunday which would require another person to work.

St. Louis gives us an example here of a man who is intent on giving God far more than what is minimally required. For Louis, observing the Lord’s Day was not about mere obligation and avoiding sin, nor does it seem to be some scrupulous compulsion, but rather his focus seems fixed on the sacred nature of the day and giving a free and generous response of love and reverence.

In her remembrance of St. Louis on this topic, daughter Celine offers the following lines from Scripture:

“If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from following your own pursuits on my holy day; If you call the sabbath a delight, the Lord’s holy day glorious; If you glorify it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs – Then you shall delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  Isaiah 58:13-14

How will I apply this? (The Challenge):

Step 1: As a special act of love toward God and neighbor, I will adopt the policy of not selling or buying on Sundays and holy days.  I will also adopt Saint Louis’ practice of making it a rare occasion for the family to undertake a journey on Sundays which would require another person to work.

Step 2: I will reread the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 1166, 1167, 1193, 2168-2195 and St. John Paul the Great’s Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (The Lord’s Day) in order to better understand the true nature of the Lord’s Day.

Some possible results:

  • I may understand more fully how the Lord’s Day is truly a great gift from God to us – increasing my desire to respond generously, even in small acts of love.
  • I may more convincingly be able to speak of participating in Mass as a “get to” rather than a “have to” – helping others to gain a more accurate perspective.
  • I may become less selfish by freely choosing the inconvenience of sacrificing my wants on Sundays as a small gift to God and others – embracing Sunday as a special school of love.

Saint Louis Martin, pray for us!