If you know anything about me, you know that I love Latin. It may be a dead language, but it’s alive in my heart – and it’s the language of the Church. So it’s no surprise that ‘Gaudete’ Sunday is one of my favorite Sundays of the year. You’ll hear people call it ‘the joyful Sunday’ or ‘the one with the pink candle,’ but let’s take a look at the actual Latin word. (Stick with me, even if you’re not a Latin fan.)
Gaudete means ‘rejoice!’ Literally – with the exclamation point and everything. It’s in a case called ‘imperative,’ which means you’re basically yelling it. And because it’s got that ‘te’ at the end, it’s plural. You might recognize the ‘Gaud’ part of the word if you like reading up on your Pope Paul VI… he wrote an encyclical called ‘Gaudium et Spes’ – Hope and Joy. So to sum it up (and draw our lesson to a close), Gaudete is a week where the Church tells us all to rejoice!
Sometimes we can think “why do we need to rejoice in Advent? It’s already a great time.” Even though it’s not a season of suffering like Lent, Advent can be pretty stressful – just ask your parents. With all the shopping, organizing, cooking, traveling, and caroling… who has time to rejoice? Being in the holiday spirit can be more stressful than work or school, so the Church takes a whole week to remind us we need to chill.
Even when the ‘pink’ week is over, make sure you take a little time each day this Advent to re-focus on what we’re about to celebrate. Remember – Christ wasn’t born in the middle of a hustling and bustling city, but in a quiet and simple manger. When Emmanuel – meaning ‘God is with us’ – finally was with us, it was a time for true rejoicing (Lk 2:9-14)… the kind we need to be echoing this Advent season.
(Photograph – Vatican Christmas Mass. Photo credit: Margaret Bourke-White, LIFE Magazine, 1944.)