Are nurses bound to observe the Sabbath day of rest?


Full Question

I am studying to become a registered nurse. My Traditionalist friends say that any good Catholic would never work on a Sunday, as it is reserved as the Sabbath and that I'm required to find another job that allows me to never work on a Sunday—even if that means less prestige or less money. There are plenty of pagans and Protestants who can work on Sundays instead, they say.

Answer

I hope your Traditionalist friends are never patients in a hospital on a Sunday. Nursing the sick on Sunday is a work of mercy. The Sabbath is not Sunday. It remains on Saturday since it is a part of the Old Law. Sunday has taken its place for Christians. It is the day of the Resurrection and is the Lord’s Day. But it is not literally the Sabbath!

How about the Gospel of Mark 3:1–6? The Pharisees were watching to see if Jesus would heal a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath. Jesus asked:

"Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.

Priests work hard on Sunday. Nurses do also. The services of both are needed on Sunday. Certainly, you are obliged to keep the Lord’s Day as holy as you can. But know that the Lord is standing at your side as you serve the people he loves.


Fr. Vincent Serpa O.P.