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Rediscover Sunday, Family Time, and Potroast

The rediscovery of this day [Sunday] is a grace which we must implore, not only so that we may live the demands of faith to the full, but also so that we may respond concretely to the deepest human yearnings. Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained.” (Pope John Paul II, Dies Domini, Day of the Lord)

In this quote from Blessed Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter Dies Domini, he is speaking about Sundays. In our modern hustling, bustling world, this day of the week is treated quite differently than it once was. In the not-too-distant past, most Catholics truly reserved the entire day for rest and prayer. Today, though, there is a growing tendency to “fit in” or plan Sunday Mass around everything else, rather than to plan everything else around Mass. The attitude of “getting Mass out of the way” so we can get stuff done around the house, go shopping or watch the football game has become far too common, leaving precious time with our Lord on the sidelines.

Sadly, I am guilty of this new reality. The more time that passes, the busier I seem to get, and the thought of devoting each and every Sunday to rest and prayer makes me feel panicky about the work I would not be getting done. Not God’s work, but my work.

I am grateful, therefore, for the eloquent reminder from Dies Domini. I also am thankful for the example set by my grandparents in terms of how they respected the Lord’s Day.

Some of my father’s fondest memories from childhood are of his Sundays at home with his family. They started their day with early Mass, then came home to relax and spend the day quietly and peacefully with family and friends. They concerned their minds and their discourse with matters of faith, and they forced themselves to let go of the work and stress that waited for them as a new week began.

They occasionally treated their minds and bodies to an afternoon nap. And they also prepared a certain meal on Sunday, which, for some reason, was reserved for that day of the week. For my dad’s family, it was a hearty pot roast.

As we approach the Easter season, we are reminded that Sunday centers our lives on Jesus’ resurrection. My father would remind me that the Ten Commandments do not become less relevant with time, and the Third Commandment should be heeded as earnestly as the rest: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

I know it will be a challenge to forgo the list of to-do’s that collect during the week, but if my kids can one day reminisce about how Sundays were spent with family and prayer, and be able to rest the way my father does, that is more important than my tackling of whatever other tasks swirl about us in today’s busy world.

Sunday Pot Roast

  • 3-4-pound boneless chuck roast
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 16-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • 1 ½ cups beef broth
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 5-6 red skin potatoes, quartered
  • 1 ½ cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Season the entire cut of beef with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven (with lid), heat the 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (on medium to high heat). Sear the meat on all sides until a nice brown crust is visible on the outside. Add the wine first and then the beef broth and crushed tomatoes. Evenly distribute the vegetables and herbs around the roast. Drizzle with a bit more extra virgin olive oil and season with additional salt and pepper. Cover with lid and reduce heat to very low. Cook for about 3 ½ to 4 hours (basting every 30–45 minutes with juices from pot) until beef is tender.

Carefully remove roast from pot and slice on a cutting board. Remove herbs and discard. Arrange sliced roast and vegetables on a large platter and serve with the juices from the pot.

Michelle DiFranco is a designer and the busy mom of two children.