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Sunday shopping

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Father Kenneth

Q. I am a sports professional and have various opportunities for endorsement deals. Can you tell me whether it's all right to be sponsored by a brand whose stores are open on Sundays? (I know that Sunday shopping is a grave sin.) (Naples, Florida)

A. First, I admire the question. It shows a special sensitivity to the importance of spiritual values. The morality of Sunday shopping depends, in my mind, on what you are shopping for. I can see how you might need a carton of orange juice, a newspaper or a bottle of Advil on a Sunday; but skis or a new tennis racquet don't seem to present the same urgency, and they could well wait until Monday.

A sporting goods store (which I presume is what you're talking about), by staying open on Sunday, could be forcing its employees to forfeit a day of worship, family time and suitable relaxation. I would be hesitant, though, to say that Sunday shopping is necessarily a grave sin. If you were to skip Mass in order to shop, that might indeed be a grave sin -- and I would question those who spend several hours every Sunday doing the family shopping for the week when a different day could work just as well.

In your own situation, the ideal would be to tell the company trying to recruit you that you find their policy of Sunday openings objectionable; coming from a professional athlete, that might have an impact. Alternatively, I suppose, you could take the job and work from the inside to change the company's business practice -- but I see that as being unlikely.

Q. Are there restrictions as to which scriptural readings may be used at a Catholic funeral Mass? My dad has told me that he wants Matthew 25:31-40 to be read when he dies. He has always liked that reading and has lived his life accordingly. Is there any reason this passage could not be used at his funeral? (Northampton, Pennsylvania)

A. The Order of Christian Funerals is the ritual book approved for Catholic funerals in the United States. In it is offered a selection of 45 different scriptural passages for the first and second readings of the Mass and for the Gospel.

In most parishes, it is customary for the pastor or a member of the parish staff to meet with the family of the deceased to decide which of the readings will be selected for the funeral Mass. Often, the family also has input as to what musical pieces will be played and sung. Many parishes publish a booklet containing some of the more popular scriptural passages, so that the family can read and reflect before making their selections.

The passage that your father favors -- in which Jesus welcomes into heaven those who have been kind to the needy, saying, "I was hungry and you gave me food" -- is, in fact, one of the suggested readings.

Other scriptural passages that are frequently chosen include: Wisdom 3:1-9 ("The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God"); Romans 6:3-9 ( "Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life"); Romans 8:31b -35, 37-39 ("If God is for us, who can be against us?"); and the Gospel of John 14:1-6 ("In my Father's house, there are many dwelling places").

I have often found that, in planning a funeral, sensitive attention to the desires of the family can go a long way to comfort people in their time of sorrow.

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Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at askfatherdoyle@gmail.com and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.

Father Kenneth Doyle is a columnist for Catholic News Service

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