Sunday, December 11, 2016

Gaudete Sunday.

Here it is, Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent. This is the one for which priests of the Catholic church do not wear the purple vestments typical of the Advent season, but rather rose-colored vestments (or, as one young priest at our parish once said, "It's not pink! It's rose! Manly rose!"). Rose vestments, where they are used, are worn on Gaudete Sunday in Advent and Laetare Sunday in Lent, a marker that the penitential season is halfway over. 

Yes, Advent is a season of penitence and preparation. So put down that cookie and go to Confession! But wait---"Gaudete" means rejoice. So eat the cookie and go to Confession tomorrow.

I first became aware of Gaudete Sunday when I was essentially a drunken heathen, and Advent was just a time for drunken heathenocity to me. I'd picked up Steeleye Span's 1972 album Below the Salt, which featured the UK folkster's version of the 16th century carol "Gaudete." Steeleye Span reached number 14 on the UK singles chart, the first top-50 pop hit in Latin.

New Advent's Catholic Encyclopedia's considerable essay on Gaudete Sunday says: "The joy of expectation is emphasized by the constant Alleluias, which occur in both Office and Mass throughout the entire season. In the Mass, the Introit 'Gaudete in Domino semper' strikes the same note, and gives its name to the day. The Epistle again incites us to rejoicing, and bids us prepare to meet the coming Saviour with prayers and supplication and thanksgiving, whilst the Gospel, the words of St. John Baptist, warns us that the Lamb of God is even now in our midst, though we appear to know Him not. The spirit of the Office and Liturgy all through Advent is one of expectation and preparation for the Christmas feast as well as for the second coming of Christ, and the penitential exercises suitable to that spirit are thus on Gaudete Sunday suspended, as were, for a while in order to symbolize that joy and gladness in the Promised Redemption which should never be absent from the heart of the faithful." (Emphasis added)

So celebrate!

But bear in mind that, as the old saying goes, you may be cool, but you'll never be Santa-Claus-in-shorts-on-a-unicycle-playing-flaming-bagpipes-doing-doughnuts-in-the-snow cool.

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