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Jennifer D'Costa wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have been attending prayer meetings with a Protestant group for the last eight years. I like the way they delve and dwell on all the Scriptures and give a deeper meaning to God's Word which is required in these last days.

During these meetings, there would be small hints that the Catholic Church would be the apostate church and, that at the end, it will be made to suffer for not following the Bible about worshipping idols, for worshipping on Sunday instead of Saturday, etc.

  • Could you please clarify these points?

God bless you.

Jen

  { Will our Church be the apostate church? The Bible study I'm going to hints it will be. }

Mary Ann replied:

Dear Jennifer —

Catholics have Bible studies and Scriptural prayer meetings too. Protestants do believe that the Catholic Church is false. Many believe it is the whore of Babylon.

  • Why would you fellowship with them?

All the answers to your specific questions are on our site or on the Catholic Answers web site.

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

Hi, Jennifer —

Sounds like you are wrapped up with Seventh-Day Adventists. They believe the Mark of the Beast is worshiping on Sunday and that the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon. Apparently, they haven't read Colossians 2:16:

"Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day."

The Seventh Day Adventists are certainly a tricky lot. The SDA's are correct in that the day of worship was changed by the early Church from Saturday to Sunday.

Technically, the Sabbath is Saturday, and Sunday is referred to as the Lord's Day. The Jews always worshiped on Saturday, the seventh day of the week, and abstained from work on that day.
The Christians changed worship to the Lord's Day in honor of Christ's Resurrection from the Dead, which occurred on the "eighth day of the week", the day after the Sabbath or seventh day.
(The early Christians saw eight as a symbol of fulfillment.)

Actually to be technical, ever since the early church, Christians have worshiped daily, not only on Sunday and Saturday; the question only pertains to when the primary day of worship is.

Ask your friends when they think this change to Sunday happened. Then give them a surprising fact: it was in the first century that the Christians changed the date.

Here is a quote from St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was thrown to the lions and thus martyred for his Christian faith in 107 A.D.:

"Consequently, if the people who were given to obsolete practices faced the hope of a new life, and if these no longer observe the Sabbath, but regulate their calendar by the Lord's Day, the day, too, on which our Life rose by His power and through the medium of His death..."

(Letter to the Magnesians, 9)

Here is a quote from the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (or Didache), which was written around 90 A.D. (before the Apostle John died):

"And on the Lord's own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure."
(Didache, 14, 1)

Here we have three Catholic doctrines:

  1. the Lord's Day as the day of worship
  2. the practice of confessing sins and doing so before coming to worship, and
  3. the Mass as a sacrifice.

St. Justin Martyr, who explained the Christian faith to hostile pagans, was the first to describe Christian worship. He lived and wrote in the 2nd century. He wrote:

On the day called after the sun [Sunday] there is a meeting for which all those dwelling in the cities or in the countryside come together. The records of the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time allows. When the reader has stopped, the one who is presiding admonishes and encourages us by a sermon to the imitation of those good examples.

Then we all stand up together and lift up our prayers and, as I said previously, when we have finished our prayer, bread is brought forth and wine and water. The one who is presiding offers up prayers and thanksgiving according to his ability and the people acclaim their assent with ``Amen.'' There is the distribution of and participation on the part of each one in the gifts for which thanks has been offered, and they are sent to those who are not present through the deacons.

We all come together on the day of the sun since it is the first day, on which God changed darkness and matter and made the world. On that day, Jesus Christ our Savior arose from the dead. They crucified him on the day preceding that of Saturn [Saturday], and on the day of the sun he appeared to his Apostles and disciples and taught them these things which we have presented also to you for inspection.

(Apology, I.67)

So there is ample evidence that the early Christians worshipped on Sunday rather than Saturday. While there is no direct biblical evidence that they did, the Lord's Day is mentioned in Revelation, where it is written,

"On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet ..." (Revelation 1:10)

Here we can see that there was a recognition of the special character of that day.

  • Why did the Church change the day on which we worship, and by what authority did it do so?

As mentioned previously, as the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead was the Primary Truth proclaimed by the Christian faith, and as He rose from the dead on Sunday, celebration of the Resurrection of Christ on Sunday became the dominant day of worship. While liturgically it is not very evident in the Latin Rite, we are in fact celebrating even today the Resurrection of Christ in our Sunday liturgy. Every Sunday is a little Easter, liturgically speaking.

  • By what authority did the Church change it?

We could argue that could have been a tradition Jesus established, but it would be more cogent to point out that Jesus gave the Apostles the authority to loose and to bind (Matthew 16:19), which meant the authority to do such things.

  • Finally, let's ask whether strict observance of the Sabbath according to the old Law of Moses is essential for Christians, given that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, and the Law of Moses is not binding for Christians anymore.

What does St. Paul say?

"Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day." (Colossians 2:16)

Clearly then, we should not allow anyone to disturb on conscience on account of whether we celebrate the Sabbath the right way or not.

While the Scriptures never say "And thus the Lord sayeth, 'Changeth thy day of worship to the Lord's Day'", there are a lot of hints in the New Testament that point to this. On several occasions, reference is made:

  • to taking up a collection on the Lord's Day (1 Corinthians 16:2) or
  • breaking break (Acts 20:7).

"Breaking break" is a reference to the Eucharist (1 Corinthians10:16).

  • Why would they take up a collection on the first day of the week when they just met for worship the day before?
  • Did they meet again just for the collection?
  • Did someone go around and collect it?

Obviously, the Christians worshiped on Sunday, the first day of the week.

These article provide even more early Church quotes and some background on the Seventh-Day Adventists:

I advise you to get out of that Bible study post-haste before you lose your faith.

Eric

Eric followed-up:

I forgot to mention something.

The fact that the concept of "The Lord's Day" was important to early Christians can be found in Revelation 1:10, where John says, "On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit", as if he expected his hearers to understand precisely what he was talking about. This is the day of the Resurrection, the first day of the week (Sunday).

John has his vision on this day and they obviously thought it was special, and consecrated. Perhaps this doesn't directly prove, in and of itself, that they worshiped on Sunday, but the evidence I presented from early Christians writing outside the Scriptures indicate that these Christians understood the Lord's Day to be the term given to Sunday, the day on which they worshiped.

Eric

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