Saturday, April 30, 2011
Low Sunday Thoughts...
The name "Low Sunday" is sometimes said to derive from its relative unimportance compared to the solemnities of Easter Day, but it is possible that "low" is a corruption of the Latin word Laudes, the first word of the Sequence of the day: "Laudes Salvatori voce modulemur supplici" (Let us sing praises to the Savior with humble voice).
Low Sunday refers to the let down relative to the special festivities of Easter and the return to the more ordinary ritual of Sundays in general. This is, of course, highlighted by the fact that attendance is also much lower. Easter having been one of the traditional obligatory times for confession and communion, the crowd that once packed the churches for the holy day are now absent and attendance generally returns to its ordinary and routine level of participation of the faithful.
Some would suggest it is low because of the persistent doubting of Thomas who refused the testimony of the rest of the apostles, who was absent when they were present for Jesus' appearance, and who insisted that he must have proof if Jesus. Surely old doubting Thomas, the regular Gospel lesson for the day, has rightly earned his nickname and his refusal to believe marks a low point among the normally high points in the Gospels for the rest of the season.
In any case, we are almost there! Perhaps all of them contribute to the sense of "low" Sunday. I have come to see Thomas less in terms of his doubting and more in terms of the problem with his doubts -- he ran from them instead letting them push him into the presence of our Lord (and of His Word and Sacraments and the company of the faithful) where doubts may be answered. It seems that the same uniformly happens today. People with doubts and fears about their faith run away from -- rather than to -- Jesus and His Church. Maybe we could restore the luster and bump up the attendance if we made this the day for all people with doubts and fears to come -- perhaps it might even surpass the Holy Day itself in sheer numbers?!