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Rejoice! It’s Laetare Sunday

Fourth Sunday of Lent

The Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete [Latin for ‘rejoice’] Sunday, has its counterpart in the Fourth Sunday of Lent, viz., ‘Laetare [Latin for ‘rejoice’] Sunday’.

Traditionally, this Sunday has universally been a day of celebration within the austere period of Lent, its nomenclature deriving from the incipit (first few words) of the traditional Latin entrance verse (Introit) for the Mass of the day, "Laetare Jerusalem" ("Rejoice, O Jerusalem"; cf. Isa 66:10).

Interestingly, though neither of the two terms, Gaudete and Laetare, figure in any ORDO in the Church in India (e.g., Bombay), the wearing of rose-colored vestments per se by the Celebrant has emerged as the norm. Interestingly, too, both the term and the color of the vestments for the day are universally shared by the Roman Catholic, the Anglican, and the Lutheran Churches, the common denominating feature of the day for all three being ‘rejoice’.

Indeed, it is appropriate that we rejoice on Mid-Lent Sunday (another term used), i.e., amidst a long period of prayerful penance, almsgiving, and good works, conscious that with three Sundays already gone by, the day of rejoicing in our salvation at Easter is not far—just 21 days away!

Yet another term used for this day is ‘Mothering Sunday', for it is a day on which believers joyfully visit either their ‘Mother Diocese’, i.e., the diocese where they originally hailed from, or their ‘Mother Parish’, i.e., the Parish in which they were baptized in the faith—a faith that calls us to both repent and rejoice!

Yet another term used universally for this Sunday is ‘Rose Sunday’, partly due to the color of the day’s vestments and partly due to the tradition of the ‘Golden Rose’ blessed on this day by the Pope for being gifted to certain churches by His Holiness. Originally, it was a natural rose, but gradually it became a single golden rose of natural size.

But since the 15th century, it has consisted of a cluster or branch of roses wrought of pure gold, brilliantly crafted by renowned artists. The golden rose represents Christ in the shining splendor of his majesty, the "flower sprung from the root of Jesse" (cf. Isa 11:10, Rom 15:12). Often conferred upon distinguished persons, churches, shrines or cities as a token of esteem and paternal affection by the Pope, at least one Golden Rose is said to have been blessed by the Pope every year on this day.

Lastly, in keeping with the mood of the day, the universal drabness of the ‘no-blooms’ period is momentarily broken with the temporary return of flowers around the Altar—a further reminder of the Spring of Easter soon to come!


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.