Sunday, March 26, 2006

Laetare Sunday


Today is Laetare Sunday (the Fourth Sunday of Lent). The Holy Father is wearing the traditional Rose-colored vestments. The only other time this is worn is on Gaudete Sunday or the third Sunday of Advent. Why rose or pink? It serves as a reminder that we are halfway through a penitential season.

The fourth Sunday in Lent (Mid-Lent) derives its Latin name from the first word of the Mass text, "Laetare Jerusalem" (Rejoice, O Jerusalem). It is a day of joy within the mourning season. The altars may be decorated with flowers, organ playing is permitted, and the priests may wear rose-colored vestments instead of purple. The reason for such display of joy is explained in a sermon by Pope Innocent III (1216):

"On this Sunday, which marks the middle of Lent, a measure of consoling relaxation is provided, so that the faithful may not break down under the severe strain of Lenten fast but may continue to bear the restrictions with a refreshed and easier heart."[31]

As a symbol of this joy the popes used to carry a golden rose in their right hand when returning from the celebration of Mass. Pope Leo IX (1051) calls this custom an "ancient institution." Originally it was a single rose of natural size, but since the fifteenth century it has consisted of a cluster or branch of roses wrought of pure gold and set with precious stones in brilliant workmanship by famous artists. The popes bless it every year, and often they confer it upon churches, shrines, cities, or distinguished persons as a token of esteem and paternal affection. In case of such a bestowal, a new rose is made during the subsequent year.

The meaning and symbolism of the golden rose is expressed in the prayer of blessing. It represents Christ in the shining splendor of His majesty, the "flower sprung from the root of Jesse." From this ecclesiastical custom Laetare Sunday acquired its German name, Rosensonntag (Sunday of the Rose).

(Intermirifica) (Image from AP Photo)


Blogger 4HisChurch said...

Our priest wore his brand new rose vestments today! Thanks for the post.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Moneybags said...

My parish priest doesn't own rose colored vestment. He said that since they are only used twice a year it's a waste of the parish's funds.

4:51 PM  
Blogger 4HisChurch said...

Bah! Good vestments are never a waste of parish funds!

4:47 AM  
Blogger Saint Peter's helpers said...

Moneybags, I wonder if one can be donated to your parish? I find the rose chasuble a symbol of the rich tradition of the Church.

3:53 PM  

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