A New Week – March 10, 2024

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent, also known as Laetare Sunday. Many folks know this as one of two Sundays where rose (or a deep pink) is the proper liturgical color (the other being the Third Sunday of Advent, or Gaudete Sunday.)  So, what’s Laetare Sunday all about?

Each Mass has an entrance antiphon. This is a sentence or two most often from the Scriptures that can be sung at the beginning of Mass. In most Churches, including ours, this entrance antiphon is replaced with an entrance hymn, but the ancient antiphons remain. In times past, people gave a title to each Sunday’s Mass from the first word (in Latin) of the day’s antiphon.

The antiphon for the Fourth Sunday of Lent is found in the fifth chapter of the Book of Isaiah. It begins, “Rejoice, Jerusalem! Come together, you who love her.” In Latin, one of the words use for “rejoice” is Laetare. So today was named Laetare Sunday.

In biblical poetry, the city of Jerusalem is called our mother. Perhaps this means that Jerusalem is the source of all life. Christian poets have said that on earth we are homesick for heaven, for the new Jerusalem. Deep down, we want to go home. Interestingly, this day is called “Mothering Sunday” in Britain and other parts of the world, and is the traditional celebration of the Mother’s Day holiday that we will celebrate in May. Also, on “Mothering Sunday”, Catholics were encouraged to return to the Church of their Baptism, their Mother Church, and to visit the font from which they were reborn.

So why the color rose?  The color for most of Lent is violet, and rose is violet mixed with white; it is a softening of the purple that we are used to seeing, and it is an anticipation of the white and brighter colors of Easter. Seeing rose is meant to make us happy and give us hope! 

On the Fourth Sunday of Lent, we are halfway to Easter, so it’s a good time to check in and review your Lenten promises. Are you still being faithful to your prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, or have you become a bit lax? Do you need to change some of your practices, or recommit to what you promised on Ash Wednesday? It is always a good day to turn to the Lord and to be reconciled with God and with one another.   

Since today is a day of joy, here are a few things that are the cause of joy for me today…

  • Our parishioners are embracing our Parish Lenten Project and supporting the St. Joseph Housing Initiative with their donations of money and time.
  • The men of our parish had a prayerful and joyful Men’s Lent event last Sunday evening.
  • Many young families are continuing to meet and support one another in faith and parenting through our nascent Parents of Young Children ministry.
  • Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend, a harbinger of Spring!
  • The Cardinals are at Spring Training and Opening Day is less than a month away.
  • Even though it is still winter, many days have been bright and beautiful, and Spring is just around the corner.
  • Holy Week and the Triduum, the very best times of our liturgical year, are coming up quickly and I am very excited to pray and celebrate with our St. Margaret community.

On this Rejoicing Sunday, what is the cause of joy for you today? Let us all rejoice; Easter is nearer than ever before!  

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