Our colleague, Derek Olsen, who often writes for Daily Episcopalian, discusses the “letter from Jesus” found in Anglo-Saxon England that commands resting on Sunday and relates the punishments that will be visited upon the people who do not rest:
It takes a number of forms but essentially, this is a letter purportedly written by Jesus that says—in a nutshell—that he’s sick and tired of people doing work on Sunday and if they don’t shape up and stop doing things, that he’ll visit all kinds of nasty plagues on them and burn things up (in his mercy…). Likely written in Spain or Gaul around the 6th or 7th century, it did enjoy wide circulation. The Irish monks seemed to be quite fond of it and added a number of elements to it including Sunday lists which identified important and miraculous events that happened on Sunday according to either Scripture or Tradition, that provide further weight why Sundays should be hallowed.
As a result of the Sunday letter, both Carolingian and English law codes place some very heavy penalties upon working on Sundays. Free-men found working will be enslaved; slaves ordered to work on Sundays by their masters gain their freedom. Heavy fines, forfeiture of goods, and floggings are all part of it too. The reason seems clear—the letter promises corporate punishments for individual offenses. From the perspective of early medieval legislators, then, harsh penalties would prevent some fairly severe supernatural consequences that would effect everybody.
What is your Sunday practice?
h/t to OCICBW