The Fourth Sunday in Lent, named Laetare (or “Rejoice”) Sunday, requires its name from the 1st words of the Gregorian chant introit for this day, “Laetare Jerusalem”. The text, inspired by Isaiah 66: 10-11, translates:
“Rejoice, O Jerusalem and collect round, all you who enjoy her rejoice in gladness, right after possessing been in sorrow exult and be replenished with the consolation flowing from her motherly bosom.”
Laetare Sunday, also recognized as Refreshment Sunday, Rose Sunday, and Mothering Sunday, provides us a “breather” in the midst of the lengthy penitential season of Lent. Historically on this day, strict Lenten observances had been relaxed: fasts could be broken, weddings (prohibited in ancient occasions through the rest of Lent) could be performed, rose vestments could replace violet ones, flowers could be placed on the altar, and organ music could be played. These exact same traditions had been, and nevertheless are to some extent, followed on the third Sunday in Advent, named Gaudete Sunday.
In earlier occasions, the gospel reading for this fourth Sunday in Lent was constantly the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes, an additional instance of God’s loving provision and nourishment and but an additional name for this day was the Sunday of the 5 Loaves.
How loving of the Lord and the church to give us this day of refreshment and encouragement in the middle of Lent as we method the darkness of Holy Week and appear forward to the joy of the Resurrection that awaits us!