The Sabbath in the Catholic Catechism

by: Bill Bratt

Email: info@icogsfg.org


Most Churches have a statement of beliefs. The Catholic Church has an elaborate statement of beliefs which they call its catechism. The entire Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church was updated and published in English in 1994. This Catechism is a compendium of Catholic doctrine and contains 2,865 points which is the official statement of faith of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.

Letís look in the Catholic Catechism and see what it says about: The Sabbath.

The New Catechism

345 - The sabbath - the end of the work of the six days. The sacred text says that "on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done," that the "heavens and the earth were finished," and that God "rested" on this day and sanctified and blessed it. These inspired words are rich in profitable instruction:

347 - Creation was fashioned with a view to the sabbath and therefore for the worship and adoration of God. Worship is inscribed in the order of creation. As the rule of St. Benedict says, nothing should take precedence over "the work of God," that is, solemn worship. This indicates the right order of human concerns.

348 - The sabbath is at the heart of Israel's law. To keep the commandments is to correspond to the wisdom and the will of God as expressed in his work of creation.

349 - The eighth day. But for us a new day has dawned: the day of Christ's Resurrection. The seventh day completes the first creation. The eighth day begins the new creation. Thus, the work of creation culminates in the greater work of redemption. The first creation finds its meaning and its summit in the new creation in Christ, the splendor of which surpasses that of the first creation.

Comment: There is nothing in the Bible that refers to an eighth day beginning a new creation.

582 - Going even further, Jesus perfects the dietary law, so important in Jewish daily life, by revealing its pedagogical meaning through a divine interpretation: "Whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him . . . . What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts . . . ." In presenting with divine authority the definitive interpretation of the Law, Jesus found himself confronted by certain teachers of the Law who did not accept his interpretation of the Law guaranteed though it was by the divine signs that accompanied it. This was the case especially with the sabbath laws, for he recalls often with rabbinical arguments, that the sabbath rest is not violated by serving God and neighborhood which his own healings did.

Comment: Jesusí healing did not violate Godís laws. It violated the "oral law" of the Jews and that is one of the reasons why the Pharisees hated Jesus and wanted to kill Him.

I. THE SABBATH DAY

2168 - The third commandment of the Decalogue recalls the holiness of the sabbath: "The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD."

Comment: The Catholic Church has renumbered the Ten Commandments. They ignore the Second Commandment (Exodus 20:4-7) and renumber the Third through the Ninth and then they split the Tenth Commandment into two Commandments. This renumbering makes the Fourth Commandment the Third Commandment.

2169 - In speaking of the sabbath Scripture recalls creation: "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it."

2170 - Scripture also reveals in the Lord's day a memorial of Israel's liberation from bondage in Egypt: "You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out thence with mighty hand and outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day."

2171 - God entrusted the sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable covenant. The sabbath is for the Lord, holy and set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on behalf of Israel.

2172 - God's action is the model for human action. If God "rested and was refreshed" on the seventh day, man too ought to "rest" and should let others, especially the poor, "be refreshed." The sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money.

2173 - The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the sabbath law. But Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day. He gives this law its authentic and authoritative interpretation: "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath." With compassion, Christ declares the sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing. The sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God. "The Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."

2189 - "Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Deut 5:12). "The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord" (Ex 31:15).

Comment: For the most part the Catechism has given an accurate view of the Sabbath with the exception of the comments about the "eighth day begins a new creation."

Letís take a brief look at what the Catechism says about Sunday in relation to the Sabbath:

Sunday- fulfillment of the sabbath

2175 - Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:

Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord's Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.

Comment: The Bible no where says that the day of worship was changed from the Sabbath to Sunday. Notice that the Catechism does not quote any scripture to back up their claim that the day of worship was changed to Sunday. The Catechism says: " no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord's Day." This is not scriptural. The Catechism in point #2173 quoted the following passage: "And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: {28} Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath" (Mark 2:27-28 KJV). If Jesus is the "Lord of the Sabbath" then that makes the Sabbath the true "Lordís Day." (Request our free article: "Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath" for an in depth look at this topic.)

2176 - The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship "as a sign of his universal beneficence to all." Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.

Comment: Notice what the Catechism is saying: "The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart." The word "moral" is defined as: "relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior." Godís "moral law" is the Ten Commandments in which God defines right and wrong behavior. In Exodus 20:8-11 God commands mankind to "Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy."

Notice that the Catechism is setting the stage for Sunday observance even though it is not scriptural.

2190 - The sabbath, which represented the completion of the first creation, has been replaced by Sunday which recalls the new creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.

2191 - The Church celebrates the day of Christ's Resurrection on the "eighth day," Sunday, which is rightly called the Lord's Day (cf. SC 106).

2192 - "Sunday . . . is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church" (CIC, can. 1246 ß 1). "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass" (CIC, can. 1247).

2193 - "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound . . . to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord's Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body" (CIC, can. 1247).

2194 - The institution of Sunday helps all "to be allowed sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives" (GS 67 ß 3).

2195 - Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord's Day.

The day of the Resurrection: the new creation

2174 - Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week." Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:

We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.

Comment: Notice what the Catechism said in this last paragraph: "We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day." Please notice that the Catechism is tying Sunday worship in with the resurrection of Jesus by claiming that the resurrection was on Sunday. Matthew recorded in his gospel account the following: "But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: {40} For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:39-40 KJV).

Jesus died on the cross at 3 p.m .and was buried before sunset. Since He was resurrected three days and three nights later, then He would have been resurrected near sunset at the close of the Sabbath. He ascended to God the Father on Sunday morning as per John 20 (notice verse 17.) Jesusí ascension to God the Father on Sunday morning fulfilled the Wave Sheaf Offering (Leviticus 23:9-14.) (Request our free article: "The Resurrection was not on Sunday" for an in depth look at this topic.)

We have looked at the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" (dated 1994) in regards to the "Sabbath" and for the most part we would have to conclude that it is an honest interpretation of what the Bible says regarding the Sabbath.

We would also have to conclude that the Catechism is saying that Sunday is the day of worship because as section 2191 says: "The Church celebrates the day of Christ's Resurrection on the "eighth day"" Please notice that no Bible scriptures are given except their reference to Christís resurrection.

It seems that there is something missing in this latest Catechism in their explanation of why the day of worship was changed from the seventh day (Saturday) Sabbath to Sunday.

Letís continue our search for the "truth" by looking in an older Catholic Catechism. This Catechism takes on a different format with questions and answers. The word "catechism" is defined as: "a manual for catechizing; specifically : a summary of religious doctrine often in the form of questions and answers."

The Convertís Catechism of Catholic Doctrine

The Convertís Catechism of Catholic Doctrine by: Peter Geiermann, C. SS. R. (published by: B. Herder Book Co. -1946)

3. The Third Commandment:

Q. What is the Third Commandment?

A. The Third Commandment is: Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.

Comment: Remember the Catholic Church renumbered the Ten Commandments.

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.

Q. Why did the Catholic Church substitute Sunday for Saturday?

A. The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday, because Christ rose from the dead on a Sunday, and the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles on a Sunday.

Comment: This particular Sunday in which the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles was Pentecost, which is one of the seven annual holy days of God - See Acts 2 and Lev. 23.

Q. By what authority did the Church substitute Sunday for Saturday?

A. The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday by the plenitude of that divine power which Jesus Christ bestowed upon her.

Q. What does the Third Commandment command?

A. The Third Commandment commands us to sanctify Sunday as the Lordís Day.

Comment: WRONG - In Exodus 20:8-11 (KJV) God commands mankind to keep the seventh day holy, not the first day: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. {9} Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: {10} But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: {11} For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it."

Q. What does the Third Commandment forbid?

A. The Third Commandment forbids (1) The omission of prayer and divine worship; (2) All unnecessary servile work; (3) Whatever hinders the keeping of the Lordís Day holy.

Q. Is the desecration of the Lordís Day a grievous matter?

A. The desecration of the Lordís Day is a grievous matter in itself, though it admits of light matter."

Comment: The "Convertís Catechism of Catholic Doctrine" is a little more honest and accurate in their answers as to why the day of worship was changed from the Sabbath to Sunday:

"The Third Commandment (actually the Fourth Commandment) is: Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day."

"Saturday is the Sabbath Day."

"We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday."

"The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday, because Christ rose from the dead on a Sunday, and the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles on a Sunday (Comment: Pentecost)."

"The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday by the plenitude of that divine power which Jesus Christ bestowed upon her."

Notice that the Catholic Church says that they have the right to change the day of worship from the Saturday Sabbath to Sunday.

In Conclusion:

God made the Sabbath for man and Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. Mark 2:27-28 reveals that the Sabbath is the real Lordís day.

Every Christian should know why they keep Sunday or the Saturday Sabbath as the day of worship. The Catholic Church commands you to worship on Sunday. The Bible commands you to worship on the seventh day Sabbath which is on Saturday. The Catholic Church agrees that Saturday is the Sabbath, but they say that they have the right to change the day of worship from the Saturday Sabbath to Sunday.

The Choice is yours: Do you want to keep the Sabbath as the Bible commands or keep Sunday as the Catholic Church commands?


Check out the following information:

Roman Catholic and Protestant Confessions about Sunday. (Pick the link)
These confessions are from prominent religious people who freely acknowledge that there is no Biblical authority for the observance of Sunday.  

Rome's Challenge. (Pick the link)
The contents of this booklet were originally printed in the Catholic Mirror in four editorials in September 1893. The Catholic Mirror was the official organ of Cardinal Gibbons and the Catholic Church in the United States. This booklet written by the Catholic Church answers the question: "Why Do Protestants Keep Sunday?" 

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath
(Pick the link)
This article proves that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.