Gaudete Sunday at Mater Dei in Dallas

Fr. Thomas Longua, FSSP, pastor of our parish of Mater Dei in Dallas, is seen here offering Mass on the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete Sunday is so called from the first word of the Introit of Mass, Gaudete, which means Rejoice.

Advent began as a period of 40 days of prayer and fasting; a second Lenten period that preceded the Nativity of Christ. Later, in the ninth century, Advent was shortened to the four weeks we know today, and by the twelfth century the Lenten fast was reduced to abstinence. It is of note that the Office of Advent was composed by Saint Gregory the Great, and so the chant we offer is of ancient origin.

As Lent has a respite with Laetare Sunday, Advent has its pause of joy, where the purple color of penance gives way to the joyful color of rose and the presence of the Gloria, flowers, and the organ, signaling the nearness of the Lord’s Coming.

The 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia notes the particular significance of the day:

“In both Office and Mass throughout Advent continual reference is made to our Lord’s second coming, and this is emphasized on the third Sunday by the additional signs of gladness permitted on that day. Gaudete Sunday is further marked by a new Invitatory, the Church no longer inviting the faithful to adore merely “The Lord who is to come”, but calling upon them to worship and hail with joy “The Lord who is now nigh and close at hand”. The Nocturn lessons from the Prophecy of Isaias describe the Lord’s coming and the blessings that will result from it, and the antiphons at Vespers re-echo the prophetic promises. The joy of expectation is emphasized by the constant Alleluias, which occur in both Office and Mass throughout the entire season. In the Mass, the Introit “Gaudete in Domino semper” strikes the same note, and gives its name to the day. The Epistle again incites us to rejoicing, and bids us prepare to meet the coming Saviour with prayers and supplication and thanksgiving, whilst the Gospel, the words of St. John Baptist, warns us that the Lamb of God is even now in our midst, though we appear to know Him not.”

December 26, 2013