Laetare Sunday

The fourth Sunday of Lent is traditionally known as Laetare Sunday. This name is taken from the opening antiphon at Mass, Laetare Jerusalem which means “Rejoice, O Jerusalem.” Laetare Sunday marks the halfway point through the Lenten season of fasting, penance and almsgiving, and because of this it is a day of joy in anticipation of the close arrival of Easter. This day corresponds with Gaudete Sunday, the halfway point through the season of Advent. On both days, the priest wears rose-colored vestments and the altar is decorated with flowers, traditionally roses.

During both Lent and Advent, the rose color is meant to be a glimpse of the joy that awaits us at Our Lord’s birth and resurrection.

Laetare Sunday signifies a temporary suspension of our voluntary penitential observances. In the early Church, marriages were not allowed to be held during the Lenten season except on this one day.

Laetare Sunday is meant to be a jubilant and joyous day amid the darkness of Lent and coming Passiontide.

Laetare Sunday should remind us to keep focused and remember why we are fasting, doing penance and giving alms – all of it is in anticipation of Easter. It is not for some arbitrary reason that we give things up for these 40 days or that we make special acts of penance and charity, but it is to unite us with and bring us closer to Our Lord.
St. Paul reminds us, “And now I am happy about my sufferings for you, for by means of my physical sufferings I am helping to complete what still remains of Christ’s sufferings on behalf of His body, the Church. And I have been made a servant of the Church by God, who gave me this task to perform for your good. It is the task of fully proclaiming His message, which is the secret He hid through all past ages from all human beings but has now revealed to His people” (Col 1:24-26).

As an Easter people, we are to keep our hearts and minds on Our Lord and to seek Him alone. For it is only in Christ that suffering and death are overcome.
While Lent is a time of darkness, a spiritual desert, we place our hope in the Resurrection.

As St. Peter reminds us, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

source: Catholic News Herald

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