You are hereFr. Nick's Presentation - Sabbath
Fr. Nick's Presentation - Sabbath
“Jubilee spirituality [can be] a resource for our times...consider the act of declaring a Jubilee year – or at the very least a Jubilee time – to focus on the religious ways of being in the world that constitute Jubilee teaching.” These ways are Sabbath, forgiveness, freedom, justice, and jubilation. Sabbath is “the essential preliminary condition” for each of the subsequent Jubilee traditions. (Maria Harris, Proclaim Jubilee!: A Spirituality for the Twenty-First Century, Westminster John Knox Press, 1996, p. 19.)
“Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation” (Genesis 2: 1-3).
“Then God delivered all these commandments...Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be don then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth , the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the lord has blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20: 1 & 8-11; cf. Deuteronomy 5: 12-15).
Akkadian: documents of ancient Mesopotamia: sabbatu = day of rest for the heart
Hebrew: shavat = to stop, to cease; noun, cessation, desistance
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1951, 2005 paperback edition.
1. “Technical civilization is man’s conquest of space. It is a triumph frequently achieved by sacrificing an essential ingredient of existence, namely, time. In technical civilization, we expend time to gain space. To enhance our power in the world of space is our main objective. Yet to have more does not mean to be more. The power we attain in the world of space terminates abruptly at the borderline of time. But time is the heart of existence” (p. 3).
2. “Indeed, we know what to do with space but do not know what to do about time, except to make it subservient to space. Most of us seem to labor for the sake of the things of space. As a result we suffer from a deeply rooted dread of time and stand aghast when compelled to look into its face. Time to us is sarcasm, a slick treacherous monster with a jaw like a furnace incinerating every moment of our lives. Shrinking, therefore, from facing time, we escape for shelter to things of space. The intentions we are unable to carry out we deposit in space; possessions become the symbols of our repressions, jubilees of frustrations. But things of space are not fireproof; they only add fuel to the flames. Is the joy of possession an antidote to the terror of time which grows to be a dread of inevitable death? Things, when magnified, are forgeries of happiness, they are a threat to our very lives; we are more harassed than supported by the Frankensteins of spatial things” (pp. 5-6).
3. “The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments. In a religious experience, for example, it is not a thing that imposes itself on man but a spiritual presence. What is retained in the soul is the moment of insight rather than the place where the act came to pass. A moment of insight is a fortune, transporting us beyond the confines of measured time. Spiritual life begins to decay when we fail to sense the grandeur of what is eternal in time” (p. 6).
4. “The Bible is more concerned with time than with space. It sees the world in the dimension of time. It pays more attention to generations, to events, than to countries, to things; it is more concerned with history than with geography. To understand the teaching of the Bible, one must accept its premise that time has a meaning for life which is at least equal to that of space; that time has a significance and sovereignty of its own” (pp. 6-7).
5. “Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time...There are no two hours alike. Every hour is unique and the only one given at the moment, exclusive and endlessly precious....Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge from the magnificent stream of a year....Jewish ritual may be characterized as the art of significant forms in time, as architecture of time. Most of its observances – the Sabbath, the New Moon, the festivals, the Sabbatical and the Jubilee year – depend on a certain hour of the day or season of the year....The main themes of faith lie in the realm of time. We remember the day of the exodus from Egypt, the day when Israel stood at Sinai; and our Messianic hope is the expectation of a day, of the end of days” (p. 8).
6. The word qadosh means “holy”. It represents the mystery and majesty of the divine. The first holy “object” in the history of the world was the seventh day, not an object in space, but holiness in time (see Genesis 2:3). “When history began, there was only one holiness in the world, holiness in time” (p. 9).
7. “...the Sabbath is entirely independent of the month and unrelated to the moon. Its date is not determined by any event in nature, such as the new moon, but by the act of creation. Thus the essence of the Sabbath is completely detached from the world of space....The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world” (p. 10).
8. “To the biblical mind...labor is the means toward an end, and the Sabbath as a day of rest, as a day of abstaining from toil, is not for the purpose of recovering one’s lost strength and becoming fit for the forthcoming labor. The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life. Man is not a beast of burden, and the Sabbath is not for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of his work. “Last in creation, first in intention,” the Sabbath is “the end of the creation of heaven and earth....The Sabbath is not for the sake of the weekdays; the weekdays are for the sake of the Sabbath. It is not an interlude but the climax of living” (p. 14).
9. “The seventh day is a palace in time which we build. It is made of soul, of joy and reticence. In its atmosphere, a discipline is a reminder of adjacency to eternity....What is so luminous about a day? What is so precious to captivate the hearts? It is because the seventh day is a mine where spirit’s precious metal can be found with which to construct the palace in time, a dimension in which the human is at home with the divine; a dimension in which man aspires to approach the likeness of the divine....For where shall the likeness of God be found? There is no quality that space has in common with the essence of God. There is not enough freedom on the top of the mountain; there is not enough glory in the silence of the sea. Yet the likeness of God can be found in time, which is eternity in disguise” (pp. 15 & 16).
10. “Creation, we are taught, is not an act that happened once upon a time, once and for ever. The act of bringing the world into existence is a continuous process. God called the world into being and that call goes on. There is this present moment because God is present. Every instant is an act of creation. A moment is not a terminal but a flash, a signal of Beginning. Time is perpetual innovation, a synonym for continuous creation. Time is God’s gift to the world of space....A world without time would be a world without God, a world existing in and by itself, without renewal, without a Creator. A world without time would be a world detached from God, a thing in itself, reality without realization. A world in time is a world going on through God; realization of an infinite design; not a thing in itself but a thing for God” (pp. 100 f.)
11. We cannot solve the problem of time through conquest of space, through either pyramids or fame. We can only solve the problem of time through sanctification of time. To men alone time is elusive; to men with God time is eternity in disguise....Creation is the language of God, Time is His song, and things of space the consonants in the song. To sanctify time is to sing the vowels in unison with Him....This is the task of men: to conquer space and sanctify time” (p. 101).
12. “We must conquer space in order to sanctify time. All week long we are called upon to sanctify life through employing things of space. On the Sabbath it is given us to share in the holiness that is in the heart of time. Even when the soul is seared, even when no prayer can come out of our tightened throats, the clean, silent rest of the Sabbath leads us to a realm of endless peace, or to the beginning of an awareness of what eternity means. There are few ideas in the world of thought which contain so much spiritual power as the idea of the Sabbath. Aeons hence, when of many of our cherished theories only shreds will remain, that cosmic tapestry will continue to shine....Eternity utters a day” (p. 101)