Monday, August 3, 2015

How to Beat the Sunday Night Blues
One of my great friends, with whom I taught for a number of years, used to describe the summer months in the following terms:  June is Friday; July is Saturday; August is Sunday night.

Maybe it's natural for students everywhere (as well as teachers!) to dread the end of summer and to be wary of the approaching school year.  But why does Sunday night seem to stymie the hearts of workers everywhere?  And as Christians, how might we begin to beat the Sunday night blues?

Here are a few strategies to help make the Lord's Day one of peace and joy:
  • Make Saturday a "work" day.  Rather than a being on a 7-day-per-week treadmill, wouldn't it be nice to shrink the work week by one seventh and thereby etch out a legitimate day of rest? Maybe it's just me, but whenever I let a Saturday waste away, I find myself slammed on Sunday.  Whenever I take care of chores or errands or catch-up work on Saturday, however, then Sunday plays out much more pleasantly.
  • Enjoy special foods.  St. Teresa of Avila once said that, to make a good retreat, one needs to eat well, sleep well and pray well.  When God made keeping the Sabbath Day holy one of the Ten Commandments, don't you think he had something like this in mind?  The old-fashioned idea of visiting family or friends on Sunday fits naturally with serving up some of our favorite foods.
  • Read a good book; write a long letter.  Maybe it's sketching or knitting or starting a weekly journal, but finding a creative outlet helps us mirror the Creator himself.  Doesn't appreciating art, or literature, or the "book of nature" make us more fully human?
  • Live a corporal or spiritual work of mercy.  Sunday should be a day of mercy, par excellence.  The Catechism reminds us that: "The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead" (n. 2447). Don't we all know someone who needs comfort or forgiveness or a simple visit? 
  • Laugh a little more.  If Dostoyevsky was right in saying that "The soul is healed by being with children," maybe it is because children make us smile.  They enjoy; they bring joy.  Jesus was clearly onto something when he said, "Unless you become like this child..."
  • Worship the Lord of Life.  If we started beating back the "weekend" mentality, wouldn't we get off the roller coaster of manic behavior?  When Sunday is a day of thanksgiving and praise for the blessings of the previous week, as well as a preview of petitions and intercessions for the upcoming week, then there is balance in my life.  When I'm worshipping the good and loving God, the tempting idolatry of the work-a-day world fades away.

Discouragement, despair and the proverbial "blues" are always from "He Who Shall Not Be Named," as they say in the Harry Potter novels.  We must resolve to resist such temptations.

But blue is also the privileged color of Our Lady, who wants us to share in her Son's joy.  So doesn't it make sense to entrust our weekly struggles to her mantle of mercy?  She is more than able to re-cast our weekly worries in a new shade of blue.