How often a good idea finds expression in the rich liturgy and tradition of the Church!
GAUDETE SUNDAY is a case in point. The word gaudete (pronounced gow dĕ’ tā)—Latin for “rejoice”—is actually the first word of the Introit (Entrance antiphon) of the Mass for that day. And rejoice, we do!
But first, about ADVENT: The word means “coming” or “arrival”; and during the four weeks of Advent, we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas. The air is rife with expectation, anticipation, longing. Readings at Mass during the weeks of Advent focus on this coming as a Babe in Bethlehem, but also on the Parousia, the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time.
With all this emphasis on “preparing,” we try to be holier, more ready. Advent is a penitential season; and so the color of vestments during that time is purple, the color of royalty (for the coming King) and of penitence.
On Gaudete Sunday, though, we cast aside our penitential garment. Music is joyful and the organ, which may have been silenced during the first weeks of Advent, may be used. The priests wears rose-colored vestments, if they are available (although since they can be worn only twice during the year, on Gaudete Sunday and on Laetare Sunday in Lent, many parishes skip this expenditure). We light the third candle, the pink candle and rejoice at the nearness of Christ.
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The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; They will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak,
Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared;
Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.