Dominica In Albis Or Low Sunday The Gospel John 20 v.19 Sunday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL John 20:19-31
At that time, when it was late the same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them: "Peace be to you." And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. He said therefore to them again: "Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him: "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them: "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the place of the nails and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." And after eight days, again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said: "Peace be to you." Then he said to Thomas: "Put in thy finger hither and see my hands. And bring hither the hand and put it into my side. And be not faithless, but believing." Thomas answered and said to him: "My Lord and my God." Jesus saith to him: "Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen and have believed." Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in his name.
In the primitive Church they used to hallow or sanctify the font of Baptism very solemnly at Easter, as we still use upon Easter Eve, and reserve such as are Catechumens, that is to say, learners of the Catholic faith before they be admitted to baptism, who being baptized were clothed in a white garment or habit, as we do now infants with a white Chrysome, to signify the innocency and purity of soul they received in baptism, and they did wear it until the Sunday following, and then they were solemnly divested of that white habit again with some Sermon or Exhortation, to instruct and encourage them to go forward in their profession.
Hereof this Sunday took the name of Dominica albis, that is to say, the Sunday in the white garments, for that is the Ecclesiastical name thereof: the vulgar people call it low Sunday, in comparison of Easter day, which is now by the institution of the Church always upon a Sunday, which maketh it the highest Sunday in the year, whereof this Sunday is but the Octave and therefore fitly termed low Sunday, in comparison of Easter Sunday, which is the highest of all.
The Jews kept their Easter the fourteenth day of the moon of March, which happened sometimes upon on day of the week, sometime upon another, and when it happened upon the Sabbath day, which is our Saturday, (as it did when they crucified Christ) they called it the Great Sabbath, as the Scripture saith.
The Catholic Christian Church, to the end we might not Judaize so much as to keep our Easter day upon theirs, and in detestation of their wicked fact in putting Christ to death, and in honor of his Resurrection, which was upon our Sunday, hath ordained that our Easter day shall be always kept upon the Sunday that is next to the fourteenth day of the moon of march: so that, our Easter day though a most high feast of itself, yet so much the higher, because the Church hath made it to fall always upon a Sunday & therefore the more reason to call this Sunday, low Sunday in comparison of that.
Upon this Sunday St. Augustine preaching once to the Catechumens that had been baptized at Easter, and were then to leave off their white habit, amongst many other goodly instructions, said thus unto them: Today the solemnity of Easter doth end, you leave off your white habit, yet so, that the purity and candor signified thereby, remain still in your souls, The Church hath commanded us to receive the blessed Sacrament at Easter, and consequently, supposing the Sacrament of Penance going before a preparation thereunto, hath clothed us with a white garment of purity interiorly in our soul, and hath command us to keep the feast of Easter very solemnly, which is another white garment wherewith we are exteroly clothed, & is a sign of the interior.
Now we leaving off this outward white garment this day, by making an end of the solemnity of Easter, let us remember to leave it off, or to make an end of Easter, that we retain still that inwards purity of the soul & sincerity of devotion, with which we receive the blessed Sacrament at Easter, and that as we are exhorted in the beginning of the Mass of this day, taken out of the Scripture: We be like infants new born, without guile, not feeding upon the hard meat of malice, nor guile, nor dismisslation, nor envy, nor detraction, but upon the milk of innocency and purity of soul, that we may grow unto that maturity and ripeness of salvation which Christ by his precious death & resurrection hath purchased for us.
Also we may consider the authority of the Church, the supporter & Pillar of Truth, the faithful keeper and disposer of the mysteries of Christ her Spouse, in that she translated the Jews Sabbath day, command by God, which was Saturday, into the next, which is our Sunday, in honor of the Resurrection of Christ, & keeps our Easter so differently from the Jews, without any express Scripture other then this in general, that the Scripture commandeth us to hear and obey her, and that he that doth not, is to be accounted no better then an infidel or pagan.
Let us humbly beseech our good God, to give us grace, as in these two points, so infall other to hear and obey her, as obedient children to such a holy, & reverent Mother.