The Sabbath

While Jewish people continue to observe the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week, Catholics worship on Sunday, the eighth day, when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, fulfilling the old Sabbath after resting in the tomb on Holy Saturday.

After completing creation in six days, God rested on the seventh day. From the Hebrew word shavat which means “to rest”, Saturday became known as the Sabbath, or Shabbat, and fulfilled the solemn day of rest ordered by the third Commandment.

The number seven is a sacred number associated with completeness and oaths so in the Old Testament, when God invited man to rest with Him on the seventh day, man was brought into a covenant relationship, to rest in God’s blessing and holiness forever.

Jewish people treat the Sabbath as a sign of the covenant relationship with God, refraining from their regular work to spend time giving thanks for the blessings of creation and remembering the Passover sacrifice which freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

In the Gospels, Jesus honors the holiness of the Sabbath while highlighting its purpose for doing good. He declares himself Lord of the Sabbath and clarifies that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.

Jesus’ Resurrection on first day of the week brings to mind the first day of creation. That day, Sunday, became known as the Lord’s Day, the day of a new creation through Jesus’ victory over death and the beginning of a new and everlasting covenant.

The Sabbath remains on Saturday but the ceremonial observance for Catholics moves to Sunday and in the person of Jesus. On Sunday, Catholics refrain from work to devote time to receive the fulfillment of the Jewish Sabbath sacrifice which is Jesus in the Eucharist at Mass.

Jesus invites man to rest in Him:


Understanding the Jewish roots of Catholicism:

Ascension Presents

Jesus fulfills the Sabbath:

Catholic Productions

While He was going through a field of grain on a Sabbath, his disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you not read what David did when he and those [who were] with him were hungry? [How] he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering, which only the priests could lawfully eat, ate of it, and shared it with his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

Luke 6: 1-5

Something substantial happened on the day of the Resurrection:

Saint Dominic Media

Celebrating the first day of the new creation:

Catholic Answers

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.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2175

Sunday is not a new Sabbath:

The Catechism Guy

Still fulfilling the Commandment:

The Religion Teacher

As it concludes its account of the week of creation — an account which blends deep religious sentiment with sublime poetry — the first chapter of Genesis says that “on the seventh day God finished his work which He had done” and “blessed the seventh day and hallowed it”. The “shabbat”, the biblical Sabbath, is linked to this mystery of God’s rest. If we Christians celebrate Sunday as the Lord’s Day, it is because it was on this day that Christ’s Resurrection occurred; it is the fulfilment of the first creation and the beginning of the “new creation”. God’s “rest” reaches its full achievement in the risen Christ.

Pope John Paul II, Angelus Address, 12 July 1998

Participating in the Sabbath rest on Sunday:

Fr. Dan O’Reilly Online

Living the faith in a scriptural and apostolic way:

The Catholic Talk Show

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

The joy of religious vows:

Ugandan Catholics Online

Share this page with friends and family to start a conversation about your faith.

Don’t miss a post. Learn more about the Catholic Church and strengthen your Catholic faith.

Find more Fiercely Catholic video issues here.

Subscribe here.

Book a Fiercely Catholic program at your next conference, retreat, or other Catholic event.