Show this video in class to help students understand and prepare for Laetare Sunday, the name for the Fourth Sunday of Lent when priests wear rose vestments. As you shows the video, use the graphic organizer, which is available for download at the bottom of this page. (Members can download this video and graphic organizer here.)
What is Laetare Sunday?
On the Fourth Sunday of Lent, we celebrate what we call Laetare Sunday.
Here are three important things to know.
#1. Where does the name come from?
Laetare is a Latin word that means “rejoice.”
The name comes from a Scripture verse from the book of Isaiah, “Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow.”
This verse is the incipit of the Introit for the Mass.
Incipit, in Latin, means literally “here begins.” It refers to the opening word or words of a text.
The word Introit means “entrance.” The Introit at Mass is the entrance antiphon (psalm) that is sung or said as the priest approaches the altar for Mass.
#2. Why are the priests wearing pink?
First of all, they are wearing rose, not pink. It’s a subtle difference but an important one.
Just as on the third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday), priests wear rose colored vestments and the rose colored candle is lit, so too do you see priests at Mass wearing their rose colored chasubles during Mass on Laetare Sunday.
Why? Well, the change from violet to rose is meant to mark a shift in our celebration of Lent. Today is a day to rejoice even as we make our Lenten sacrifices. It is a short break from the somberness of penance symbolized by the color violet.
Here is another historical explanation for the color: Beginning about a thousand years ago, popes would honor faithful citizens with a pink rose and priests would wear rose-colored vestments as a reminder and celebration of this honor. Still today, a Golden Rose that is blessed on Laetare Sunday is occasionally given by popes as an award to churches and shrines throughout the world.
#3. Why do we celebrate on the Fourth Sunday of Lent?
Laetare Sunday marks the half-way point through the season of Lent. It is celebrated 21 days before Easter Sunday. Essentially, this is a day of encouragement for those of us doing penance and making our Lenten sacrifices. On this day we are encouraged and reminded that through our sacrifice we will soon taste great joy. So, rejoice now in your sorrow.
Don’t forget that after Christ’s Passion and Death on the Cross came the joy of Resurrection!
Laetare Sunday Worksheet
Download the graphic organizer for this video to help teach students about Laetare Sunday: