December 14, 2008

Gaudete Sunday

Advent, the preparation season for Christmas, is basically a penitential period. Yet, in the Latin Church tradition the third Sunday of Advent—that is today—is also called “Gaudete Sunday,” from the Latin word for “rejoice,” thus corresponding with “Laetare” (another Latin word for “rejoice”) or Mid-Lent Sunday. On the third Sunday of Advent, as on Laetare Sunday, the organ and flowers, forbidden during the rest of the season, are permitted to be used, as well as rose-coloured vestments are allowed instead of purple. Which means that, beyond penitence, there is an indescribable joy—we believe that Joy is coming to us from God.

That is why a Christian should be joyful, and this joy should express itself in corresponding forms of behavior. Yet, so many Christians—and unfortunately even priests and bishops—look almost always grim and unhappy. There is no light in their eyes, no joy on their faces, no warmth or enthusiasm in their words. They are just like any other people and one can hardly recognise them as Christians, that is to say those who have been born again in the family of God (John 3:3)! How is it possible? I don’t know the answer. Do you?

To conclude, I would like to give an idea of what, in my humblest opinion, that Christian joy might look like. I mean, I thought that the following video could be somehow connected to the spirit of Gaudete Sunday: Johnny Cash & June Carter performing in Johnny's 1980 Christmas show. June plays the autoharp and banjo and then Johnny and June sing a duet. Again, in my view this is the kind of “joyful Christian” we are all called to be.


  1. Thanks Rob, for a beautiful explanation of Gaudete Sunday. I am a "cradle Catholic" but it's nice to be reminded of why we do what we do....

  2. Hi djsassy1, you are very welcome!