Sunday, February 25, 2007

More on Doing Homework on Sunday

Some of you may recall my earlier post on doing homework on Sunday, in which I said that, as long as:
  1. you do your homework with the intention of glorifying God with your intellectual work
  2. you have already done other things to sanctify the day (going to Mass, praying, reading a theological/mystical work)
  3. you don't dread Sunday b/c that's the day when you always do your homework, and you don't like doing your homework
.....then doing your homework on Sunday is okay. BUT, someone recently sent me a link from the Catholic Q&A section at EWTN in which Fr. Robert J. Levis answers this question in a slightly different way (in response to someone who felt that there was something not quite right about doing homework on Sunday). He says:
Dear Student, Studying is not considered a servile, manual labor and so the Church law against work is not applicable here. Most students take advantage of Sunday for make-up reading and other scholarly work. So you must not think as you do. College work is very expensive both in time and finances; you must work very hard to succeed. Surely never use religion and Faith as motive to avoid hard intellectual labor.
He is right that doing homework is not servile, manual labor, but I don't think he has taken into account the various extenuating circumstances that can make doing homework an unacceptable practice on Sunday.

As I said in my last post on this, often times it is because students always do homework on Sunday that they develop an actual dread for this day! They hate doing homework, Sunday is when they always do it, thus they cringe whenever Sunday rolls around. This sentiment is completely contrary to the regard that all Christians are supposed to have for the day when Jesus rose from the dead. I think that if doing homework on Sunday causes you to disrespect Sunday, then you should quit doing it on Sunday until you can foster a healthier perspective on this day and approach the doing of homework with a better mindset.

Also, if you have ALOT of homework, it can actually keep you from being able to devote this day to the Lord and to your own physical and spiritual growth. Some people put off 30-pg papers and major projects until Sunday, and then they are so nervous and anxious about it, and so overwhelmed by the volume of work, that they just skip Mass, or they don't do the spiritual reading that they would normally do, or don't exercise. Most importantly, they don't rest! I realize that doing homework is not servile labor, but if it keeps us from sanctifying the day, then it shouldn't be done then (or, at least, it shouldn't ALL be done then).

So, I guess my point is that, while Fr. Levis is correct, we also have to keep in mind the role that doing homework plays in the day, and we have to acknowledge the fact that doing homework can actually keep us from making Sunday the day of worship, and rest, and rejuvination that it is supposed to be.

What are your thoughts? Let me know.

Pax Christi,


Suzanne said...

I am new to your blog. It's an enjoyable read. My husband is working on his PHd and has an exhorbitant amount of work. He also teaches 18 hours of English a semester at the local junior college. He has no choice but to do some school work on Sunday if he wants to pass. Attending Sunday Mass, reading the Magnificat, praying the Rosary, and playing with his four children are all priorities before he settles down to begin his studies. We do set aside Sunday as a special day for the Lord, but sometimes we do use a little time to prepare for Monday. I pray we don't offend Him by this.

phatcatholic said...


Thanks for visiting me blog! I hope you return often. Regarding your Sunday habits, it appears that you are doing everything you can to make Sunday a holy day and still maintain your various obligations. I don't think your family is offending the Lord at all.

Pax Christi,

Adam said...

As good lay catechists, we defer to the priest unless compelled with serious reason not to. :)

Anonymous said...

From the Rule of St. Benedict:

"On Sunday all are to be engaged in reading except those who have been assigned various duties. If anyone is so remiss and indolent that he is unwilling or unable to study or to read, he is to be given some work in order that he may not be idle. RB, 48:22-23."

For a monk, sacred reading, Lectio Divina, is part of their "work". Yes, it is prayer. But, prayer for the monk is part of their work. Studying on Sunday, recommended by St. Benedict.

If a member of the community has been "assigned various duties" apart from this "divine reading" - or prayer - then, well, they have that work to do. As a student, if we be assigned work, it would seem at least according to St. Benedict, there is no sin in fulfilling that assignment.

Yes - its all about balance. If I use homework (or family, or friends, or housework, or blogging...) as an excuse to avoid orienting myself toward a Holy day, then there's a problem.

However, if I'm doing my best to follow the Lord's calling in my life, wherever I am is right for right now. If a husband and father, that station in life brings certain Holy obligations in addition to mass and prayer. If a student, homework.

It's where my heart is that's important.

We must be careful to avoid the pitfall of the Pharisees (did I spell that right) - and "legalize" and overcomplicate matters such as this.

phatcatholic said...

I agree, "Anonymous"

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