Over the last couple of weeks, I have noticed some confusion with the greeting at the beginning of Mass. This happens sometimes when we are not familiar with something. The greeting, in keeping with the change of seasons, is: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The response is still the same: “And with your spirit.” This expresses the profound grace and peace, which comes to us as the birth of our Lord nears. It should call to mind the verse from St. Luke: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
This weekend we celebrate Gaudete Sunday. This day takes its common name from the Latin word Gaudete meaning “Rejoice”, the first word of the introit for today’s Mass:
Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete.
This may be translated as:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
The season of Advent originated as a fast of forty days in preparation for Christmas, commencing on the day after the feast of St. Martin (12 November). In the ninth century, the duration of Advent was reduced to four weeks, and by the twelfth century the fast had been replaced by simple abstinence. Even with the changes, however, Advent still preserved most of the characteristics of a penitential season which made it a kind of counterpart to Lent. The middle (or third) Sunday (Gaudete Sunday) corresponds with Laetare Sunday. On this day, as on Laetare Sunday, what was forbidden during the rest of the season, including fast and abstinence was permitted, including rose-colored vestments instead of purple. All these distinguishing marks have continued in use, and are the present discipline of the Church. Gaudete Sunday makes a break about midway through a season, which is otherwise of a penitential character, and signifies the nearness of the Lord’s coming. The spirit of the Liturgy all through Advent is one of expectation and preparation for the Christmas feast as well as for the second coming of Christ.
Let us make the most of these last few days of Advent and prepare well for our Lord and Savior.
Your servant in Christ,