For all churches that follow the standard lectionary, the Gospel reading for the second Sunday of Easter is John 20: 19-29, the story of Thomas’s doubt and belief. And St. Thomas’s Sunday is not complete without singing O Filii et Filiae, or O Sons and Daughters Let Us Sing--a hauntingly beautiful fifteenth-century Latin hymn by Jean Tisserand, translated into English by John Mason Neale:
O sons and daughters, let us sing!
The King of Heaven, the glorious King,
Over death today rose triumphing.
That Easter morn, at break of day,
The faithful women went their way
To seek the tomb where Jesus lay.
An angel clad in white they see,
Who sat, and spake unto the three,
“Your Lord doth go to Galilee.”
That night th’apostles met in fear;
Amidst them came their Lord most dear,
And said, “My peace be on all here.”
When Thomas first the tidings heard,
How they had seen the risen Lord,
He doubted the disciples’ word.
“My piercèd side, O Thomas, see;
My hands, My feet, I show to thee;
Not faithless but believing be.”
No longer Thomas then denied;
He saw the feet, the hands, the side;
“Thou art my Lord and God,” he cried.
How blessed are they who have not seen,
And yet whose faith has constant been;
For they eternal life shall win.
On this most holy day of days
Our hearts and voices, Lord, we raise
To Thee, in jubilee and praise.
For me, who was raised an agnostic, but came to shaky faith after marrying a believer, the story of Thomas is special. While homilists often give Thomas a hard time for his doubt, Jesus’ words to him are loving. After all, the other disciples had seen Jesus appear in the locked room. Thomas is honest enough to express his doubts openly.
While my work schedule, prevents me from attending church in my own Episcopal denomination, I try to go to Saturday afternoon vigil Mass at the nearby Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Bloomington. I don’t receive Communion, as the Catholic Church has closed Communion, but I do receive a blessing.
I'm often so exhausted after the Saturday morning shift that I don't make it to church. But I make every effort to attend church on St. Thomas's Sunday. Holy Trinity didn't disappoint me today. We sang O Filii et Filiae.