Sacred Heart of Jesus

Parish Blog

The Loss of Sacred

The loss of what’s sacred is often a topic of conversation of those in my grandparent’s generation.  Whether it’s the way people dress at church or the laissez-faire attitude of many around such issues as abortion, the argument is that the spectrum of respect around life and God has dwindled considerably since they were children.  The wisdom of their life experience should cause us to pause and ask if anything has changed, and if so is it for the better? 

Our country has a history of protecting the sacred.  Blue laws were established to keep one day of the week free from work.  A Sabbath or Sunday in the western Christian world was protected by laws to secure rest for laborers and the practice of religious liberty.  One interesting quote from our Supreme Court justice in 1896 when defending blue laws said: 

“Its requirement is a cessation from labor. In its enactment, the legislature has given the sanction of law to a rule of conduct, which the entire civilized world recognizes as essential to the physical and moral well-being of society. Upon no subject is there such a concurrence of opinion, among philosophers, moralists and statesmen of all nations, as on the necessity of periodical cessation from labor. One day in seven is the rule, founded in experience and sustained by science. ... The prohibition of secular business on Sunday is advocated on the ground that by it the general welfare is advanced, labor protected, and the moral and physical well-being of society promoted.” 
Chief Justice Stephen Johnson Field
Hennington v. Georgia, 163 U.S. 299 [1896]

What initially was to protect the moral and physical well-being of society and the exercise of religious liberty has for the most part been repealed in our country.  Today, the sacred veil that placed over one day out of seven has given way to the infringing consumeristic hunger of the modern generation.  Sunday is now a seventh day to make money or live as any other day. 

So where has the sacred gone?  Have we lost the sacred as my grandparents might argue?  Well, what is sacred doesn’t change.  What does change, however, is how we treat what is sacred.  God and the life He created will always be sacred.  Even God, thousands of years before blue laws, tried to help us to preserve what is sacred by giving us a law that says “you shall keep holy the Sabbath” Exodus 20:8.  He knew that humanity needed time to rest and see reality for what it was, a gift.  He knew that we needed time to rest and recognize that we are not human doings but human beings who are not slaves to work.  

As blue laws were repealed and Sunday began to look more like a weekday, the attitude toward religious practice has shifted to become something for only part of the day at best and for many simply a movable obstacle to the day’s preplanned activities.  Respect for the sacred has in many ways given way to homage of bread and circus.

Fr. Michael Delcambre