From a reader…
I need to take various training courses (ie: first aid, CPR and AED training, as well as Suicide Intervention training, etc) to meet the qualifications for more gainful employment. It used to be they would hire you and pay for and send you to do the training on company time and money. I’m on the cusp of low income (having to cut back drastically and save for training hasn’t helped) and life is stressful making ends meet.
Unfortunately the courses are only offered during the day when I normally work, requiring me to take two days off of work each time, which I can’t really afford, or on weekends, requiring me to attend Mass Saturday evening, but spend Sunday in a class rather than “keeping the day holy”.
I asked our priest if it’s permissible to do the weekend courses due to financial hardship of taking two days off work without pay each time and he said if the courses are available outside of the Sunday, one must take the courses that don’t coincide on Sundays even if it means some inconvenience. He also said that it would only be permitted to take the courses on the Sunday if they were absolutely necessary to keep one’s employment, suggesting that it wouldn’t be permissible to take courses needed to obtain employment, just to keep it.
He has also said in times past that Catholics are not to work at jobs that involve working on Sundays, which seems even stricter than what the Catechism says, so I’d like a second opinion. Can I take training courses on Sundays if taking them during the week would cause undue financial hardship (not to mention inconvenience my co-workers and manager who would have to work harder without me at work)?
I am not always pleased to have one priest pitted against another in these practical questions which have no clear answer. I think that Father’s answer was not a bad one. I have a slightly different take.
Yes, I think you can take those classes on Sunday, even though they are offered on other days. You describe the need to take days without pay if you take them on those other days. You say that your income is borderline now and that you are having a hard time. Meanwhile, if you take the classes – albeit on Sunday – you have the chance to get a better income down the line.
Since you are clearly able to fulfill your Sunday Mass obligation, and because classes by their very nature are a temporary reality, yes, I think you can take those classes on Sunday. You won’t be taking them together and you have the opportunity to advance as a result, and not just in any job, but in a job wherein you may save lives. Yes, I think you can take the classes on Sunday.
Be mindful, as I am sure you will be, of the sacred nature of Sunday’s time. It maybe that during some Sunday down time, between classes, etc., you might find a quiet corner and consider the Sunday Gospel reading or say a decade of the Rosary.
Let Sunday be the Dies Domini. Let us also remember that Our Lord would say that we should pull our oxen out of holes if they are stuck, even on the Sabbath. Pulling oxen isn’t an all day event and it is not an every Sabbath event. We do what we must do.