Fourth Week of Lent – Laetare Sunday
We are now beginning the fourth week of Lent. This Sunday, it will be the fourth Sunday of Lent and it is also known as Laetare Sunday. Laetare is a Latin word which means ‘rejoice!’ Our thoughts this week are bitter-sweet. We are encouraged to rejoice, to be happy, for our salvation is near but in our Gospel Reading, Jesus points us to the reality of this salvation which will come via His suffering and death on the Cross.
“The Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him. Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave his only son, that whoever believes in Him may not be lost be may have eternal life.” John 3:14-16
This Sunday is also Mothering Sunday. It is an opportunity to celebrate with love our mums and grandmas and any female members of our families who care for us in a special way as a mother would. We can thank them for all the love they have shown us over the past year. Of course, we do not need to just have one day, for we should always be grateful for their love and care for us every day of the year too! We can also honour Our Blessed Mother Mary and show our love and affection for her by bringing her flowers to place before a special picture or a statue we may have of her at home. We can say a Hail Mary for someone we love who is in need of her prayers and pray a special Rosary for our families and friends.
Mothering Sunday has a long tradition in times past as being the Sunday when people would return to their ‘Mother’ Parish Church where they were baptised and received the Sacraments. This custom originates from when Christians in Domestic Service to wealthy families would return to their home or “Mother” Church to celebrate the Eucharist. Additionally, we remember especially on the Sundays in Lent all those who are preparing to receive the Sacraments. Our focus is also on those who are preparing to be received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. From the very early days of the Church, the Season of Lent would be used as a means to spiritually prepare for the 40 days, for the Catechumens (soon to be baptised Christians) to be received into full Communion with the Catholic Church.
It is also ‘Refreshment Sunday’. Refreshment Sunday is another day of grace which helps us to renew our commitment to our Lenten promises. How has your Lenten journey been so far? Have you even started one? If you have found Lent difficult – do not despair, you are not alone! It is natural to struggle and find things hard going. Don’t let that put you off. Remember that God is still waiting for us with open arms and He longs for us to come closer to Him. If we have been struggling with our Lenten journey so far Jesus promises to never leave us. Lent is all about renewing our covenant of love with the God who loves us deeply, sacrificially and personally. We can begin our Lenten journey now if we wish. God stands ready to welcome us.
At Mass the vestments are rose coloured. This is a brief interlude and relaxation of the austere penitential purple we have been used to throughout these past weeks of Lent since Ash Wednesday. The vestments remind us too, of Our Lady, who as the Mother of Sorrows entered into the Passion and Death of Jesus with Him. As a faithful Mother, she never left His side throughout the whole of His cruel sufferings. Mother Mary also stands by and with us in our suffering too. The lovely rose colour reminds us to rejoice for our salvation is near at hand! Jesus is coming soon to save us!
We will be in Holy week and the final week of Jesus’ life in a couple of weeks’ time. Holy Week is the most intense week of the whole Church year but more about that later. For now, let us truly rejoice in the wonderful fact that God our Father loves us so much and that is why He sent Jesus Christ His Son into the world to save us in the first place.
Our Prayer this Week:
O almighty and eternal God, Lord of both the living and the dead, Your tender mercy embraces all men foreknown to be Yours by faith and a good life. Through the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary our Mother, and of all the saints, grant Your merciful pardon to all mothers for whom we pray, whether they still are living in this world or have departed into the world to come. Especially, dear Lord, grant the requests I now make of You for my own beloved mother. We ask this in the Name of Christ. Amen