Tag Archives: Laetare Sunday

Laetare Sunday a joyful pause in a somber season

March 23, 2017

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lantern

A Joyful Sunday.  The Fourth Sunday of Lent is also known as Laetare Sunday.  Laetare is a Latin word which means “rejoice” or “rejoicing.”  Other nuances of the word include joyfulness, gladness, cheerfulness, and happiness.  This elated or jubilant mood is a striking one-day reprieve from the somber, sorrowful, penitential tone of the other days of Lent.

A Joyful Beginning to Mass.  The word “Laetare” is taken from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon at Mass:  “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her.  Be joyful, all who were mourning” (see Isaiah 66:10).

Joyful Symbols.  Exceptions from normal Lenten practice are permitted on Laetare Sunday:  “In this Mass, the color violet or rose is used.  Instrumental music is permitted, and the altar may be decorated with flowers” (Roman Missal, pg. 106). Rose is the liturgical color for joy.  Instrumental music is a joy to hear.  Beautiful flowers are a joy to see.

Joyful Anticipation.  There are multiple reasons why the Fourth Sunday of Lent is cause for joy, the most important of which is the proximity of Easter.  On Ash Wednesday Easter was a long way off, six and a half weeks, but on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Easter is only three weeks away, and as the greatest of all Christian feasts draws ever nearer, joy increases.  Joy is also on the upswing because the amount of time remaining with the rigors of the Lenten discipline, the penitential practices of fasting, abstinence, and self-denial, are more than half over.

Joyful Prayers.  The Collect Prayer mentions “the solemn celebrations to come” that the Church anticipates with joy.  The Prayer over the Offerings says, “We place before you with joy these offerings which bring eternal remedy”:  not only is it a joy to celebrate Mass, the thought of everlasting life in heaven brings enormous joy.  The Preface joyfully give thanks for Jesus, light, faith, liberation from sin, the grace of Baptism, and our status as God’s adopted children.  The Prayer after Communion explains how God enlightens us which also is reason for joy.

Joyful Scripture Readings.  The texts for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A, are a series of joyful messages.  The first reading gives the joyful account of the selection and anointing of David as the future king of Israel (1 Sm 16:1,6-7,10-13).  The Responsorial Psalm rejoices over the fact that the Lord is the shepherd who refreshes our souls, guides us in right paths, and accompanies us through dark valleys (Ps 23).  The second reading conveys the joyful message that Christ has given us light and made us children of the light (Eph 5:8-14).  Finally, the gospel recounts Jesus’ encounter with a man born blind (Jn 9:1-41).  Not only was his cure reason for joy, so also was his miraculous increase in faith.

Joyful Conversion.  It is with great joy that the catechumens who are preparing to receive the Easter sacraments celebrate the Second Scrutiny on the Fourth Sunday of Lent.  Also, it was an ancient custom on this Sunday to ceremoniously present the Apostles’ Creed to each of the catechumens to highlight the tenets of the faith in which they were about to be baptized.  The thought of the upcoming Easter Vigil and the reception of the catechumens into the Church is cause for great joy for the catechumens themselves and the entire community.

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Laetare Sunday: The Fourth Sunday of Lent

March 4, 2016

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UnknownA Joyful Term.  Laetare is a Latin term for joy, rejoicing, or gladness.  The Entrance Antiphon sets the mood.  It begins, “Rejoice [i.e., Laetare], Jerusalem, and all who love her.  Be joyful, all you who were mourning; exalt” (see Is 66:10).

A Joyful Break.  Lent is a somber, penitential season.  It is unpleasant to spend forty days concentrating on our sinfulness.  As we examine our consciences, it is sad and humbling when we count up the sins that we have committed.  The whole process can be downright demoralizing.  Laetare Sunday is supposed to be a bright and happy occasion, a one-day breather, not dwelling so much upon our sinfulness but upon the joyful promise of God’s mercy.

Joyful Progress.  Laetare Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Lent, roughly the midpoint of the season.  Three and a half weeks are completed and only three weeks remain.  This means that our Lenten disciplines, the fasting, abstinence, self-denial, and other rigors are over half completed, and that the end of our self-mortification is within sight.

A Joyful Outlook.  It is uplifting to know that Easter Sunday is only three weeks from today.

A Joyful Exception.  “During Lent, it is not permitted to decorate the altar with flowers” (Roman Missal, 70), but on Laetare Sunday “the altar may be decorated with flowers” (Roman Missal, 106); the liturgical color is violet, but the color rose may be used; and the music typically is more subdued, but the use of instruments and more upbeat melodies is appropriate.

Joyful Orations.  The Collect begins with the joyful news that the human race is reconciled to God, and it mentions the “solemn celebrations to come,” the joyous celebration of the Triduum, the Institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, salvation and redemption on Good Friday, and the Resurrection on Easter, all reasons for joy.  The Prayer over the Offerings states, “We place before you with joy these offerings which bring about an eternal remedy,” everlasting life in heaven with God.  The Communion Antiphon repeats the joyful line, “You must rejoice, my son, for your brother was dead and has come to life” (Lk 15:32).  The Prayer after Communion makes the joyful observation that God enlightens everyone who comes into this world.

Joyful Scripture Readings.  The first reading from Joshua (5:9a,10-12) recounts a joyful moment in the history of Israel, the grand and glorious entrance into the Promised Land and the end of the forty year journey through the desert.  The Responsorial Psalm says, “Look to him that you may be radiant with joy” (Ps 34:6a), and explains multiple reasons for joy:  God listens to our prayers, delivers us from our fears, and saves us from distress.  In the second reading St. Paul makes mention of two joyful realities, how through Christ we have been made into a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) and our trespasses are no longer counted against us (2 Cor 5:19).

A Joyful Gospel.  The Parable of the Forgiving Father is a joyful description of the mercy of God.  It should bring us great joy to know that as the father welcomed the sinful son, so God welcomes us when we go to him, and the way that the father embraced the son is the way that God embraces us, even after we have failed (Lk 15:20).  It is reason for celebration and rejoicing when the dead sinner comes to life again (Lk 15:32).

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Laetare Sunday: A Joyful Pause In A Somber Season

March 16, 2012

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Roses symbol for love and joy and Mary from Holy Trinity in Huron SD

A Joyful Sunday.  The Fourth Sunday of Lent is also known as Laetare Sunday.  Laetare is a Latin word which means “rejoice” or “rejoicing.”  Other nuances of the word include joyfulness, gladness, cheerfulness, and happiness.  This elated or jubilant mood is a striking one-day departure from the somber, sorrowful, penitential tone of the other days of Lent.

A Joyful Beginning to Mass.  The word “Laetare” is taken from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon at Mass:  “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her.  Be joyful, all who were mourning” (a translation of Isaiah 66:10).

Joyful Symbols.  Certain exceptions from normal Lenten practice are permitted on Laetare Sunday:  “In this Mass, the color violet or rose is used.  Instrumental music is permitted, and the altar may be decorated with flowers” (Roman Missal, 106).  Rose is the liturgical color for joy.  Instrumental music is a joy to hear.  Beautiful flowers bring joy to the heart.

Joyful Anticipation.  There are multiple reasons why the Fourth Sunday of Lent is cause for joy, the most important of which is the proximity of Easter.  On Ash Wednesday Easter was a long way off, six and a half weeks, but on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Easter is only three weeks away, and as the greatest of all Christian feast draws ever nearer, joy increases.  Joy is also on the upswing because the amount of time left with the rigors of the Lenten discipline, penitential practices like fasting, abstinence, and self-denial, is more than half over.

Joyful Readings.  The Scriptures texts for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year B, are a series of joyful messages.  This first reading from 2 Chronicles is the joyful proclamation by King Cyrus of Persia that the Babylonian Captivity is ended, the temple in Jerusalem could be rebuilt, and those held in bondage were free to return home.  The second reading from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians begins with the joyful statement, “God is rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4), and it emphasizes that salvation is God’s gift to us through the power of Jesus Christ.  Finally, the gospel proclaims the joyful good news that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16) … “so that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3:17).

Joyful Conversion.  It is with great joy that the catechumens who are preparing to receive the Easter sacraments celebrate the Second Scrutiny on the Fourth Sunday of Lent.  Also, it was an ancient custom on this Sunday to ceremoniously present the Apostles Creed to each of the catechumens to highlight the tenets of the faith in which they were about to be baptized.  The thought of the upcoming Easter Vigil and the reception of the catechumens into the Church is cause for great joy for the catechumens themselves and the entire community.

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