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Gaudete Sunday – The Third Sunday of Advent

December 9, 2016


stainedglassstbonifaceA Joyful  Sunday.  The Third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday.  The word “gaudete” is derived from the Latin words “gaudium,” joy, and “gaudeo,” to rejoice or be glad.  Gaudete Sunday occurs eight to thirteen days before Christmas, and the nearness of this major feast is reason for great joy.

The Term “Gaudete.”  Gaudete is taken from the Entrance Antiphon:  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.  Indeed, the Lord is near” (paraphrase, Phil 4:4-5).  Advent is a time of joyful expectation and eager preparation for the Solemnity of Christmas.

Multiple Reasons for Joy.  There is joy in looking forward to the annual celebration of Christmas, but there is also joy in remembering the birth of Jesus on the first Christmas.  There is joy in knowing that he was born to save people from their sins (Mt 1:21b).  The joy also extends to anticipation of the Second Coming, either at the end of physical life or the end of the world, the time when believers will be given the crown of righteousness (2 Tm 4:8) and a place in the Father’s house (Jn 14:2) to dwell with God and his angels and saints for all eternity.

A Joyful Color.  Rose represents joy and may be used as the liturgical color for Gaudete Sunday.  Violet remains the official color for the Season of Advent, the Third Sunday included, because all of Advent has a penitential tone, a time of conversion, reparation, and forgiveness.  Gaudete Sunday offers a one-day respite to look ahead to the joyful celebration of the Nativity.

Joyful Adornments.  The priest may wear a rose chasuble and the deacon may wear a rose dalmatic.  Church decorations may include roses or other flowers, a rose-colored altar cloth, drapery on the pulpit or ambo, chalice veil, tabernacle curtain, or wall hangings.  The third candle of the Advent wreath is rose.

Joyful Prayers.  The prayers in The Roman Missal on the Third Sunday of Advent convey a joyful message.  The immediacy of Christmas is addressed in the Collect, “O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,” followed by two references to joy:  “enable us … to attain the joys of so great a salvation” and “to celebrate them [with] … glad rejoicing.”  Preface II of Advent says “we rejoice at the mystery of his Nativity” and that we are “exultant in his praise.”  The Communion Antiphon contains the joyful message, “Behold, our God will come, and he will save us” (cf. Is 35:4).  Two invocations in the Advent Solemn Blessing refer to joy:  the second, “may he make you … joyful in hope,” and the third, “Rejoicing now with devotion at the Redeemer’s coming.”

Joyful Readings.  The Scripture texts for the Third Sunday of Advent, Year A, have multiple references to joy.  On the day that the promised Messiah comes, “the Arabah will rejoice” (Is 35:1); it will “rejoice with joyful song” (Is 35:2).  Those the Lord has ransomed are “crowned with everlasting joy” and “meet with joy and gladness” (Is 35:10).  The Responsorial Psalm is a joyful hymn of praise of God who is faithful, just, liberator, healer, protector, provider, eternal, and almighty (Ps 146:6-10).  The second reading makes the joyful declaration that “the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Jas 5:8b).  In the gospel, Jesus was asked if he is the Messiah, the one who is to come, and he made the joyful observation that the sick were cured, the dead raised, and the poor had the good news proclaimed to them (Mt 11:5), all signs that indeed, the Messiah had come, which is reason to rejoice.



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