Why is the Fourth Sunday of Lent called Laetare Sunday?
• The name comes from the first words of the Entrance Antiphon for Mass, “Laetare Jerusalem” — “Rejoice, O Jerusalem”.
• The fourth Sunday marks the half-way point of the Lenten season, even though the Thursday before Laetare Sunday is the actual middle day of Lent.
• Signs of joy are allowed on this day, expressing our belief in the hope of the resurrection and to inspire us as we continue our Lenten commitments to prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
• Symbolizing joy, rose-colored Mass vestments may be worn instead of purple, to indicate the contrast between Laetare and the other Sundays of Lent. According to the Roman Missal, instrumental music is permitted and the altar may be decorated with flowers.
• The tradition of using the color rose is thought to come from the tradition of the Golden Rose; at one time popes sent golden roses to Catholic heads of state in Europe on this Sunday.
• The Fourth Sunday of Lent was once called Refreshment Sunday, or the Sunday of the Five Loaves, for the miracle of the boy with loaves and fishes in the Gospel of John.
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