Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam.
[Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her.] (Is 66:10)
I used to get confused all the time as to which season Laetare Sunday and Gaudete Sunday belonged. That was until one of the nuns who taught me in grade school said, “Lent begins with an ‘L’ and so does ‘Laetare’. You should be able to remember that now.” And, it worked. I never forgot that lesson.
Today, we celebrate Laetare Sunday. Now that we know it belongs in Lent because it begins with an “l”, we can ask the most important question, “What does it mean?!”
Laetare comes from the first word of the opening antiphon for the Fourth Sunday of Lent. In English, it means Rejoice!
Today is that “great pause” in the Season of Lent. If we have been serious about our Lenten resolutions, the past few weeks have been a lot of work. We might be struggling and wondering if we are going to be able to make it through the season without breaking our resolve. We look ahead and see that we still have some time to go and the going will get more difficult as we enter Holy Week.
So we pause to take a deep breath. We shift our focus for a bit and take a moment to celebrate for, after all, that is what we will be doing for eternity. The penance of the Lenten season is not to make us somber. Our penance is to prepare us for the joy of eternity with God.
Today, then, we take up the cry of the Church and rejoice. Liturgically, the priests and deacons wear rose colored vestments. This is only one of two times in the year when that happens. The other is Gaudete Sunday in Advent. Our readings and songs reflect joyfulness and praise. We sing of God’s great love for us, a love which endures for all ages. That, certainly, is something we can all celebrate.
Has the season been long? Yes. Is there still some time to go before the celebration of Easter? Yes. Will you make it that long? Most certainly. God is with you. He will give you the grace that you need to strengthen your resolve. All you need to do is ask Him.
Count on God’s abiding love. Count on it and celebrate it this day. Rejoice!
FAITH ACTION: Find some way to celebrate your faith today, perhaps with family or friends. Take time to share hopeful experiences of the faith with one another.