Listen, my child, and I will tell you the reason why this tradition of observing the Lord’s Day and refraining from work has been handed down to us. When our Lord gave the Sacrament to his disciples, he took bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and handed it to them saying:
Take eat; this is my body, which is broken for you for the forgiveness of sin. In the same way he also gave the cup to them saying: Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood, the blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sin. Do this, he said, in memory of me.
Now this is the day we dedicate to the Lord’s memory, so it is called the Lord’s Day. Before the Lord’s passion it was not called the Lord’s day, but the first day. On this day the Lord began the creation of the world, and on this day he gave the firstfruits of the resurrection to the world. This is the day on which, as we have said, he bade us celebrate the holy mysteries. This great day has therefore become for us the beginning of all graces. It was the beginning of the world’s creation, the beginning of the resurrection, and it is the beginning of the week. Because of its three beginnings, this day signifies the primordial power of the Trinity.
Now every week has seven days. Six of these God has given to us for work, and one for prayer, rest, and making reparation for our sins, so that on the Lord’s Day we may atone to God for any sins we have committed on the other six days. Therefore, arrive early at the church of God; draw near to the Lord and confess your sins to him, repenting in prayer and with a contrite heart. Attend the holy and divine liturgy; finish your prayer and do not leave before the dismissal. Contemplate your master as he is broken and distributed, yet not consumed. If you have a clear conscience, go forward and partake of the body and blood of the Lord. But if your conscience condemns you for being guilty of wicked and immoral deeds, refrain from receiving communion until your conscience has been purified by repentance. Remain for the prayer, however, and do not leave the church until you are dismissed. Remember Judas, the traitor. Not remaining in prayer with all the others was the beginning of his downfall and destruction.
This day, as we have often said, was given to you for prayer and rest. This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it, and give glory to him who rose on this day, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now, always, and for endless ages.
Anonymous (5th-6th century)