SUNDAY OBSERVANCE AND THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
An article entitled “Our busy lives make Sunday just another day “ that was run by the Associated Press (see http://www.cleveland.com/printer/printer.ssf?/base/news/109014451689730.xml ) provides useful insights into the effect that the Roman Catholic Church had upon the Protestant Christian Sabbath observance. Here are excerpts from that article:
Sunday, July 18, 2004
Once, within living memory, it was a day apart in many places: a 24-hour stretch of family time when liquor was unavailable, church was the rule, shopping was impossible and - in some towns - weekend staples like tending the lawn and playing in the park met with disapproval. But America changed, and it dragged Sunday along with it.
Though Sunday still means worship and family time for millions of Americans, today it also means things it once didn't - 12-packs of Bud, the NFL on TV, catching up with the week's accumulated errands, picking up some CDs at Best Buy, moving through a 24/7 culture.
"Today, for a lot of Americans, Sunday's just another day you have to go to work at Wal-Mart," says John Hinshaw, a labor historian at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa. …
In a land where the pursuit of happiness is part of the national charter, Sunday's evolution attests to both Americans' harried lives and their determination to wring every drop of fun out of every day of the week.
The Protestant notion of Sunday began to change in the 1800s with immigrant laborers, many Roman Catholic, who saw things differently. Many were devoted to "a Sunday that took a very different shape - church in the morning and leisure in the afternoon," says Alexis McCrossen, author of "Holy Day, Holiday: The American Sunday."
…Across the nation, laws governing Sunday conduct - some dating to the 17th century - have fallen. In some places, like South Carolina, the changes created a crazy-quilt patchwork that allows some stores to open at some hours while others can't. …
These days, it's unimaginable to many Americans, particularly younger ones: A mall closed on Sunday? The supermarket unavailable? Even laws governing Sunday alcohol, though they remain on some states' books, are falling away… Today, 31 states permit Sunday sales of liquor, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. In the past two years, nine states initiated Sunday sales - including Massachusetts, where some of the earliest moral-conduct laws were passed. New Jersey-based Commerce Bank - a bank! - has focused an entire promotional campaign around doing business on Sundays…
"We've erased a lot of the distinctions between night and day, between weekday and weekend," says Susan Orlean, author of "Saturday Night in America," a 1990 book. "Our notions of time and space are collapsing."