This week we celebrate Gaudete Sunday – the 3rd Sunday of Advent. There is a Lenten counterpart to Guaudete Sunday, called Laetare Sunday, which occurs on the 4th Sunday of Lent.
In days of old, when the fasting and preparation seasons of Advent and Lent were stricter, the faithful recognized these particular Sundays as marking the we’re more than halfway there points of the penitential seasons.
But today, most people recognize Gaudete or Laetere Sunday by the rose vestments worn during the liturgy. I typically make a light-hearted comment at the beginning of Mass, as our vestments are really, really rose. Most people would identify the color as pink, but I don’t want to think of myself as a dude that wears pink.
Anyway, you need not adjust your TV, those vestments are the proper color for the day.
We are not celebrating the feast of Pepto-Bismol or anything like that — but we should be celebrating regardless.
Both guadete and laetere are Latin words that mean rejoice. Although the Entrance Antiphons are rarely used today (normally replaced by an entrance hymn), if you were to hear them you would recognize where the terms come from:
- 3rd Sunday of Advent = Gaudete in Domino sempe — Rejoice in the Lord always, I say it again, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4-5)
- 4th Sunday of Lent = Laetare, Jerusalem — Rejoice, Jerusalem rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow (Isaiah 66:10-11)
Rejoice for your King will soon enter our world anew. The miracle of God-made-man shall dawn upon us and refresh our tired selves.
No doubt you’ve heard homilies recently about why we should rejoice, even in these troubled times. Of how things could be worse, and are, in fact, worse for many people. All that is true, and all of it is legitimate.
But this season calls us at a more foundational level – a level not steeped in economic conditions and anxiety of what’s to come. At our very core we are creatures of our God – the work of His hands. And the unbelievable generosity and love He has for us is shown in the gift of His coming to earth as one of our own. God-with-us, Emmanuel. Heaven touches earth in a small cave in Bethlehem.