Is it Wrong to Shop on Sunday?

How do you celebrate the Lord’s Day? Hopefully you attend Mass and spend some time with your loved ones. You might have a special meal or partake in some leisurely activity. But do you ever sneak in a trip to the grocery store or run some errands at the mall? Justin called The Patrick Madrid Show to ask whether or not a Sunday shopping trip is a sin.

Shopping on a Sunday may be sinful, said Patrick Madrid. He acknowledged that some people might be surprised to hear him say so. We live in a culture that continues to work and play all the way through the weekend, skipping our day of rest and prayer for a child’s soccer tournament, shopping, or to get some work done.

Whether or not this is sinful depends on what you’re doing and why. “There are times when my wife and I will go out to a restaurant after Mass is over or go get a donut and a coffee or something like that. So I would argue that that type of thing—because it’s part of your rest on the Lord’s Day, it’s part of recreation, you’re spending time with your family, there’s leisure involved, there’s joy and celebrating with food and you have to get food from somewhere—that none of those things would be, I would say certainly they’re not seriously sinful. But I would also argue that they’re not even sinful,” said Patrick.

He referenced the apostolic letter, Dies Domini, in which Saint John Paul II speaks about the Day of the Lord that is centered on the Eucharist and meant to be a day of rest and joy.

“Through Sunday rest, daily concerns and tasks can find their proper perspective: the material things about which we worry give way to spiritual values; in a moment of encounter and less pressured exchange, we see the true face of the people with whom we live. Even the beauties of nature — too often marred by the desire to exploit, which turns against man himself — can be rediscovered and enjoyed to the full,” writes St. John Paul II.

“If on Sunday, you’re doing things that you could do other days of the week. And you are working, catching up on things that are actual work—the Church commonly would call that servile work—those things should be avoided,” said Patrick. “Instead, the day should be given over to things like family time, reading, take a nap if you like, take a long walk with your wife, enjoy a sports game; there are many ways that you can observe this day in a godly way.”

Where do these things like Sunday shopping become problematic? Patrick helps make the distinction: “If you were to go shopping on Sunday because, ‘Oh we just got out of Mass and tomorrow is so-and-so’s birthday and there’s a nice store, let’s get her a gift.’ No, [that wouldn’t be sinful.] But let’s say that your wife says, ‘I’ve got all week to do shopping but I didn’t get around to it so today I’m going to go shopping and do all the family groceries.’ I’d say that’s kind of an infringement on the commandment to keep holy the Lord’s Day. Because that’s a kind of work, it’s a chore that you could otherwise do some other day of the week.”

Listen to the full segment, including Patrick’s answer for whether or not it’s sinful to go to work on a Sunday:

“Sustaining Christian life as it does, Sunday has the additional value of being a testimony and a proclamation. As a day of prayer, communion and joy, Sunday resounds throughout society, emanating vital energies and reasons for hope.” – St. John Paul II in Dies Domini

Tune in to The Patrick Madrid Show weekdays at 8-11am CT only on Relevant Radio®.

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.