EWTN Catholic Q&A
Changing the Sabbath
Question from Scott on 10-18-2012:

I am Jewish and I have spoken with many priests over the years. Almost all of them have no problem admitting that the Catholic Church changed the seventh-day Sabbath to the first day. Is this true, and if so, why?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 10-18-2012:


I have no way to know how you phrased your question to these priests, or how exactly they responded to you. All I can do is to comment on the question itself.

The Church did not change the day of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is on Saturday, the seventh day. What the Church did is to recognize that Christians are not obligated to observe Jewish holy days, of which the Sabbath is the Jewish holy day par excellence. Christians are obligated to observe the moral obligation of the Third Commandment (the Sabbath commandment, by Catholic numbering), and so by the authority Christ gave his Church to teach and govern in his name, the Church shifted the moral obligation to join in communal worship and to rest from unnecessary work to the Lord's Day on Sunday. The Lord's Day is the Christian holy day par excellence and commemorates Christ's Resurrection on the first day of the week.

Although many Christians have confused the Sabbath with the Lord's Day by calling Sunday "the Sabbath," the Catholic Church makes a distinction between the two holy days:

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" (CCC 2175).

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers