Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

First Sunday after Easter (Low Sunday)—8 April A.D. 2018
Ave Maria!

Please pray for Alfie Evans, 20 Months old.
Socialized medicine in Britain cannot diagnose his problem, refuses to let him go elsewhere,
and now wants to take him off life-support.

[Ordinary of the Mass]
[English Text]
[Latin Text]

Ancient Customs of the Easter Octave

“Receive this white garment. Never let it become stained, so that when you stand before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, you may have life everlasting.”[1]

    These are the words spoken by the priest to the newly baptized as he or she is invested with the white garment (something like the priest’s alb, but without decoration) that symbolizes innocence and baptismal purity.  A symbol of the profession of Faith and the renunciation of all the works of the Devil.  In the early Church, people were baptized at the Easter Vigil, and wore their white garments for the following week.

    Today is the Octave day of Easter, also known as “Low Sunday” or “the Sunday in White.”  Modern people will probably have difficulty accepting the fact that in the early Church (from about the sixth to the eleventh century) Catholic Europe literally celebrated Easter for all of these eight days.  By Church law, each day was observed like Sunday—a day of rest, attendance at Holy Mass, and a day of religious instruction.  The civil authority did likewise, with the law courts and other government entities shutting down for the week.

    On Saturday, the newly baptized attended a Vigil Mass at which they put aside the white robes for the first time since their baptism.  The garments were returned to the church on Sunday morning, and were ritually washed in a large cauldron of water.  The term “Sunday in White” thus should really be “Sunday of the putting aside of the White.”

    At least in Rome, the newly baptized received a baptismal remembrance as they turned in their white garments.  On Wednesday of Easter week the Pope would bless small white discs of wax with the image of a lamb upon them—they were made with the wax of the Paschal candles of the Roman churches—these “Agnus Dei” (“Lamb of God”) would be worn around the neck.  This may well be the Church’s very first sacramental image intended to be worn by believers.

    There are even accounts of miraculous powers attributed to the “Agnus Dei” discs.  Thousands of people attested to a miraculous lowering of the flood waters of the Tiber River in Rome when an “Agnus Dei” was placed in the swollen waters during the reign of Pope Saint Pius V.[2]

    But, let me go back to the white garments for just a minute or two.  It is quite likely that everyone in this church received something like it at baptism, unless we were baptized under emergency conditions.  Even if we were baptized as infants we were likely clothed in a white baptismal robe—at the very least, we would have been given a piece of white cloth to symbolize the garment.  Your God-parents made you Profession of Faith and renunciation of the Devil for you, but if you have ever taken part in the Easter Vigil, you have renewed them yourself.

“Receive this white garment. Never let it become stained,
so that when you stand before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, you may have life everlasting.”

    The white garment symbolizes purity of soul—something of which we should be ever conscious.  A man or a woman wearing a white suit or a white dress would be careful about where they sit or where they go, almost without thinking about it—white clothing seems to be a “magnet” for dirt!  So much more important is the cleanliness of the soul!  The unstained baptismal garment is the necessary outfit for eternal life enjoying the Beatific Vision of Almighty God in Heaven!  It is the “wedding garment” to which our Lord referred in Saint Matthew’s Gospel, without which one would be

            Bound hands and feet, and cast … into the exterior darkness: [where] there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [3]


“What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world,
and suffer the loss of his soul?”[4]

    The love of God and the desire for His Beatific Vision ought to be enough to motivate us to purity of soul.  I have never liked “Hell-fire and brimstone” preaching. But, unfortunately, Hell is real.  The ravings of modernists that “there is no Hell”; that “no one goes there”; or that impure souls simply “cease to exist (that they are annihilated)” are not really very modern—they contradict Sacred Scripture, and have been condemned by the Church for centuries.[5]  We were warned by Pope Leo X and the Fifth General Council at the Lateran Basilica:

    [T]hat all those who cling to erroneous statements of this kind, thus sowing heresies which are wholly condemned, should be avoided in every way and punished as detestable and odious heretics and infidels who are undermining the catholic faith.[6]

    We are well advised to keep our white garments and our souls free from every stain of actual sin.  But we must also acknowledge out actual failings.  God does not celebrate our sins; He does not want His priests to find ways for His people to break His Commandments—another modernist absurdity—When we have sinned after Baptism,  He wants us to take our baptismal robes back to the Church, as they were in the early-Church, on Low Sunday, and “wash” them in the cauldron of Sacramental Confession.  It is no accident that Holy Mother Church reads us today’s Gospel, in which our Lord revealed to His Apostles their ability and their authority to judge and to forgive the sins who had stained the purity of their baptismal garments.

“Receive this white garment. Never let it become stained, so that when you stand before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, you may have life everlasting.”



[1]   Rituale Romanum, rite of Baptism (toward the end).

[2]   The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger, “Ancient Customs of the Easter Octave

[5]   Catholic Encyclopedia s.v. “Apocatastasis”

[6]   Pope Leo X, Lateran V, session 18




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