The Fourth Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday. Laetare means “rejoice.” The name comes from the entrance antiphon for the Mass: “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast” (cf. Is 66:1011).
It’s a bit different from other Sundays in Lent. Instead of penitential purple, rose may be used instead as the liturgical color, representing a lightening of our penance. Flowers may be used (modestly) to decorate the sanctuary. There is a bit more of a festive spirit to the Mass.
Laetare Sunday is all about finding joy in the midst of suffering. “Be joyful, all who were in mourning” is a very timely message for us in our current situation. No matter what our circumstances may be, we can know joy if we keep Christ in our hearts.
Here are a few tips and ideas for celebrating Laetare Sunday from home when going to Mass is not an option.
Keep the Lord’s Day
First we must remember that even though we are dispensed from our obligation to attend Mass, we still are obliged to keep the Lord’s Day holy. That means keeping Sunday as a day of prayer, and refraining from unnecessary work.
One very good way to do that is to participate in a Mass that is being live streamed. And I mean participate, not just watch. It’s not a television show. It’s the liturgy. Do what you can to make it feel liturgical. Don’t watch it on your cell phone laying in bed, still in your pajamas. Watch it on the largest screen you have available. Get dressed. Light a candle and burn incense if you have it. Spend a few minutes before Mass begins in silent prayer, as you would if you were in church.
When Mass begins, follow along prayerfully. It may help to have the readings and prayers in front of you. Respond out loud just as you would if you were there. Stand, sit and kneel at the proper times. All these things will help you unite spiritually in prayer with the sacrifice of the Mass.
You can also celebrate a Liturgy of the Word in your own home (especially if you are with family and friends). Do the same as above to create the proper setting. Light candles. Find some pink flowers for Laetare Sunday. Set out an icon or statue of our Lord.
- The Magnificat has provided this guide to celebrating a Liturgy of the Word for the 4th Sunday of Lent.
- Keep the Lord’s Day is a web site providing Mass Readings as well as Morning Prayer for Sundays
Here are just a few other ideas to help you prayerfully rejoice on this Laetare Sunday, in no particular order.
- Pray the Liturgy of the Hours, especially Morning and Evening Prayer (you can find these online at iBreviary)
- Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary
- Wear pink!
- Listen to joyful music.
- It’s spring! Take a walk outside and look for spring flowers.
- Think of at least 10 thinks you are thankful for.
- Send a message to a priest letting him know he’s appreciated (it’s hard for them to be without their flock on Sundays).
- Take a virtual tour of a Vatican museum.
- Indulge (moderately) in something you gave up for Lent
These are just a few quick ideas I came up with on my own. I’m sure you can think of more.
In our present situation, we are all going to find ways to keep Sundays not only as days of rest and prayer, but also of hope and joy. Let’s encourage one another, by sharing our ideas (by social media if we are unable to in person) on how we find ways to keep Sundays holy in our homes.