The fourth Sunday of Lent
This weekend as you go to Mass you may see something unusual - the priest and deacons are wearing PINK vestments!
Actually, the formal Church designation is
"Rose", not "Pink"
- but besides that, why are they wearing them at all? Did a red magic marker happen to get mixed in when the white vestments were being washed?!?!?
The fourth Sunday of Lent has a special designation in the Church calendar: it is called
. Latin for "rejoice", Laetare Sunday gets its name from the opening antiphon (the "
") for the Mass:
Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae. Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus. Gloria Patri.
(The English translation is included as the quote at the end of this article).
While not widely known in the modern Catholic Church (and also observed to an extent by the
Anglican ecclesial community
), this day holds a special significance in the Lenten season. Just past the halfway point of Lent, it is considered a "day of respite" from the penitential practices and is reflected even in the vestment colors. The combination of the violet of Lent with the white of Easter would result in the rose that is used. Situated twenty-one days before Easter, it is a day of celebration that reminds us that, although we are in the midst of Lent and the awareness of our sinfulness, the glory of Easter and Christ's redemptive act is still promised and is on its way. In a way that mirrors the
to Jesus' closest friends as a preparation for his Crucifixion and death, Laetare Sunday is meant to give us a “shot in the arm” as we approach the darkness and horror of the days through Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Traditionally, it was forbidden to have flowers adorning the church during Lent, but on Laetare Sunday small floral arrangements were permitted. Likewise, marriages could not be conducted during the Lenten season (currently they are only forbidden on Good Friday and Holy Saturday), but an exception was granted on this day.
It’s an opportunity to savor and keep in the back of our minds what awaits us on Easter Sunday — the reality that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and that our hearts will always be filled with joy!
Although not a major feast of the Church calendar, Laetare Sunday can help bring an important element to our faith: being aware of traditions and customs that are designed to assist us in celebrating the beauty of that faith. As you can see, there is much associated with even a nondescript day like the Fourth Sunday of Lent — not to mention the rest of the season, and certainly for the
50 days of Easter and beyond
. Remember to take advantage of the richness of our Catholic traditions and to help others recall - or to learn for the first time - how our worship of God should not only be confined to the walls of a church, but be shown in every aspect of our lives.
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Attend what you can in preparing for the glory of Easter
Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. Glory be to the Father.
Introit for Laetare Sunday
Our FORMED Recommendation for the Week
Audio (71 minutes) -
Glimpses Along the Way of the Cross
In these three beautiful talks, Monsignor James Shea guides us along the Stations of the Cross, teaching us how to open our hearts more to the suffering and loneliness of Jesus on His way to Calvary. Weaving together the insights of keen believers like Fr. Richard Neuhaus, Caryll Houselander, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and Dr. James Edwards, these powerful meditations take us into the depths of Christ's agony, and back out again into the joy of what His sacrifice means for us.
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Sent by Fr. Ed Blanchett on Friday, March 9 at 3:00PM