Fourth Sunday of Lent -Laetare

Posté par diaconos le 14 mars 2021

John 3:17 Inspirational Image

# It seems that, from ancient Christian times, the fourth Sunday of Lent, known as Laetare Sunday, had the special character of a pause in the middle of Lent (as did Gaudete Sunday during Advent). The name comes from the opening words of the Laetare introit, « Laetare Jerusalem » (Rejoice, Jerusalem). In the past, the Pope, unlike on other Sundays in Lent, came on horseback to the station on that day at the Holy Cross of Jerusalem where the Glorious Cross was venerated.

The term « Laetare Sunday » is used by most Latin liturgical rites (such as the Catholic tradition and Anglicanism), and by some Protestant denominations which have their origins in the rite of the European Church. The Lætare, in Belgium, is a traditional festival celebrated mainly in Stavelot, in the province of Liège, for three days (Saturday, Sunday and Monday). It is a centuries-old tradition dating back to 1502. Like Gaudete Sunday in Advent, the Church celebrates its joy and liturgical vestments may exceptionally be pink (a mixture of purple and white) instead of purple on this day.


From the Gospel of John

Jesus said to Nicodemus : « As Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that through him every man who believes may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent his Son into the world, not to judge the world, but that through him the world might be saved. He who believes in Him escapes the Judgment ; he who does not want to believe is already judged, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

« And this is the Judgment: when the light came into the world, men preferred darkness to light, because their deeds were evil. For every man that doeth evil hateth the light: he cometh not into the light, lest his works should be held against him: but he that doeth the truth cometh into the light, that his works may be known as the works of God. « For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son » (Jn 3, 14-21)


Almighty God, you who know all things, do not look at the sin of your people, but listen to their request for forgiveness. Without your grace, life will never be able to find the road you have traced for it. Lord, Nicodemus came to you by night to find out how to be reborn before his Creator, how to find the way back to his Father. You invite him to be born of water and the Spirit (Jn 3:5), you invite him to open himself to the Holy Spirit who traces the path of each one. Lord, I ask you, grant me to hear and follow your voice.

Rejoice, Jerusalem, and gather together, all you who love her

Today the liturgy offers us a foretaste of Easter joy. The liturgical vestments are pink. It is the Sunday of « lætare » which invites us to a peaceful joy. « Rejoice, Jerusalem, and gather together, all you who love her… », cries the opening hymn. God wants us to be happy. The most basic psychology tells us that a person who is not happy ends up being a sick person in body and mind.

That said, our joy must be a joy that has a good foundation, it must be an expression of the peace of a meaningful life. Otherwise, joy would degenerate and become superficial and stupid. St. Theresa rightly distinguished between « holy joy » and « foolish joy ». The latter is an external joy that lasts only a short time and leaves a bitter taste.

These are difficult days for the life of faith. But they are also exciting times. We experience, in a way, the Babylonian exile, the one sung in the psalm. We too can have an experience of exile « we wept, remembering Zion » (Ps 136, 1).

External difficulties, and especially sin, can bring us to the shores of Babylon. But in spite of everything, there are reasons to keep hope, and God continues to say to us : « Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I stop thinking about you » (Ps 136:6). (Ps 136, 6).

We can live happily ever after, for God loves us so much « that he gave his only Son » (Jn 3, 16). Soon we will accompany this only Son on his journey of death and resurrection. We will contemplate the love of the One who loves us to the point of giving himself for us all, for you and for me. And we will be filled with love when we see « Him whom they pierced » (Jn 19, 37) and a joy will grow in us that no one can take away.

The true joy that fills our lives is not the result of our personal efforts. St Paul reminds us: it does not come from us, it is a gift from God, we are his work (Col 1, 11). Let us let God love us and love him in return, and our joy will be great both in our lives and at the next Easter. Let us not forget to let God caress and transform us by making a good confession before Easter.

It is clear, then, that, reduced to our own strength, we can do nothing. So, Lord, in order to live in the light, grant me the grace to listen to the Spirit that you communicate to us through your words, your examples and the sacraments, and to obey his request. We can do nothing on our own, so let us raise our eyes to the redemptive cross from which we will receive the Spirit and his light.


◊ Diacon Michel Houyoux : click here to read the paper  → The Fourth Sunday of Lent

   Frater Mauro Conte : « Fourth Sunday of Lent »

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