Tag Archives: Laetare Sunday

Laetare Sunday

Today, the 4th Sunday of Lent–Laetare Sunday we here from the gospel of Saint John (3:14-21). One among several sentences from the gospel stand out: “Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” It is the Son of God who saves me from me and offers me a terrific gift: heaven.

A reflection from Saint John Chrysostom gives persepctive: “The text, ‘God so loved the world’, shows such an intensity of love. For great indeed and infinite is the distance between the two. The immortal, infinite majesty without beginning or end loved those who were but dust and ashes, who were loaded with ten thousand sins but remained ungrateful even as they constantly offended him. This is who he ‘loved’! For God did not give over a servant, or an angel or even an archangel but ‘his only begotten Son.’ And yet no one would show such anxiety even for his own child as God did for his ungrateful servants.”

Laetare, Jerusalem

Santa Croce in GerusalemmeThe Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare  Sunday, has a special remembrance for me. Several years ago I had the privilege to live for a month at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome, with the Cistercians. Sadly, the Cistercian existence at Santa Croce has ended with Pope Benedict’s suppression of this monastery. The parish continues. Nevertheless, it is a most blessed place. Praying in front of the Relics of the Holy Passion was a joy as well as seeing the pilgrims making their way to the basilica.

Santa Croce is the place where Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine spread the dirt she brought back from Jerusalem, spreading it, built a place for pilgrimage for those who could not go to the Holy Land. This basilica has some of the key interments of the Holy Passion of the Lord, plus one of the fingers of Saint Thomas who touched the glorious wounds of the Lord.

The texts for today’s Mass and Office were purposely composed for today, for this church!

Laetare, Jerusalem et conventum facite, omnes qui diligitis eam; gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristis fuistis, ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestra.

“Rejoice, O Jerusalem and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.”

(Introit for the Fourth Sunday of Lent)

The Fourth Sunday of Lent, also known as: Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday, Rose Sunday (Dominica de Rosa, from a Papal tradition of blessing the golden rose on this day).This is mid-Lent Sunday, day called Refreshment Sunday as well as Mothering Sunday. The notion of rejoicing comes from the first words given to us by the sacred Liturgy when we sing the Introit.

The wisdom of Mother Church tells us that at the mid-point of Lent we take a look at what is going on with regard to our Lenten commitment: some Lenten observances are relaxed on this day: in places where the organ is silent, there is the playing of the organ at Mass, you may see flowers in church and you may relax a penance. Laetare Sunday is a day of mercy. The purple of penance is set aside while the clergy are vested in rose vestments a sign of joy.

In England, Laetare Sunday is also called Mother Sunday. What is meant by Mothering Sunday is the fact that the Christian faithful would visit their Cathedral on the Fourth Sunday of Lent to make their offerings to the diocesan mother church. While we, on these shores, do not observe Mothering Sunday but we do pray for the diocese and the mother church, the Cathedral. Here in the Archdiocese of Hartford, we recall the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, and the current Ordinary, Archbishop Leonard Paul Blair.

Laetare Sunday

Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.

Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis,et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae.

With the Church we pray

O God, who through your Word reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way, grant, we pray, that with prompt devotion and eager faith the Christian people may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come.

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In the Mass of Paul VI today’s gospel, if you don’t have catechumens at Mass, is the parable of the Prodigal Son. We know both sons have no clue of who they are persons without the father indicating their moral and human reality. The sons clearly miss the point of their familial sonship. This biblical narrative is heard in the Church as one of the many examples of nature of the Church, especially considering the role of the father. Here we understand the father not only be to biological father of children who need teaching but he stands for the Church who teaches but also reconciles, corrects error but rejoices in a return.

 Saint John Chrysostom teaches, 

There were two brothers (Luke 15:1-3, 11-32): they divided their father’s goods between them and one stayed at home, while the other went away to a foreign country, wasted all he’d been given, and then could not bear the shame of his poverty…The reason the father let him go and did not prevent his departure for a foreign land was that he might learn well by experience what good things are enjoyed by the one who stays at home. For when words would not convince us God often leaves us to learn from the things that happen to us. When the profligate returned…,the father did not remember past injuries but welcomed him with open arms…Are you asking: ‘Is this what he gets for his wickedness?’ Not for his wickedness, but for his return home; not for sin, but for repentance; not for evil, but for being converted.

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Ken Hackett receives Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal

Ken Hackett.jpgUniversity of Notre Dame announced today that Ken Hackett, the longtime and recently retired president of the Catholic Relief Services, will receive 2012’s Laetare Medal. Catholic Relief Services is the Catholic Church in the USA’s humanitarian agency. The medal will be awarded on May 20th, the 167th commencement exercise.

ND’s president Holy Cross Father John Jenkins said that “Ken Hackett has responded to a Gospel imperative with his entire career. His direction of the Catholic Church’s outreach to the hungry, thirsty naked, sick and unsheltered of the world has blended administrative acumen with genuine compassion in a unique and exemplary way.”
Mr Hackett was born in West Roxbury, MA (a suburb of Boston), graduated from Boston College, worked with Peace Corps in Africa, and joined CRS in 1972. He was elected president of the same in 1993. Hackett has received numerous awards in previous years.

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The Laetare Medal awarded by the University of Notre Dame on Laetare Sunday has its origins in 1883. Notre Dame’s understanding of the award honors a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” At the time it was given, the Laetare Medal was modeled on the 11th century tradition of a Golden Rose given by the Supreme Pontiffs to shrines of the Blessed Virgin Mary (a tradition maintained by Pope Benedict) and to Catholic Queens. Not too many notable Catholic queens today.
Laetare Sunday is the 4th Sunday of Lent. Rejoice Sunday –Laetare means “to rejoice”, the first word of the Introit (the Entrance Antiphon) of the Mass. The priest wears the joyful color of rose to symbolize the joyfulness of entering into this new phase of Lent, taking a respite from the Lenten observances, and picking up new strength to continue to the end of Lent. The Laetare Medal bears the inscription “Magna est veritas et prevalebit” (Truth is mighty, and it shall prevail.)
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Lætáre Jerúsalem — Rejoice, O Jerusalem

Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.

Lætáre Jerúsalem :et convéntum fáciteómnes qui dilígitis éam: gaudéte cum lætítia, qui in tristítia fuístis: ut exsultétis, et satiémini abubéribus consolatiónis véstræ.

Psalm verse: I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord.

Lætátus sum in his quæ dícta sunt míhi: in dómum Dómini íbimus.

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The Mass prayers and Divine Office for today was written particularly for Laetare Sunday and for the Roman Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Holy Cross in Jerusalem). You can go to Jerusalem without having to leave Rome when you visit this basilica! I had the great joy of spending a month with the Cistercian monks of Santa Croce in 2007 and celebrating today’s feast with them. The monks pastorally administer the basilica which contain the relics of the Holy Passion of Lord and the mortal of remains of the Servant of God, Nenolina Melo.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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