16 December 2013

Gaudete Sunday 2013

Sub Tuum

Today Gaudete Sunday (the Third Sunday in Advent) coincides with the Octave Day of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Gaudete Sunday takes its name from the Introit of the mass for this day, Gaudete in Domino semper, iterum dico gaudete. That is, Rejoice in the Lord always, I say again, rejoice. It continues "Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh." On this day the vestments are not purple as they are on the rest of the Sunday masses of the Advent season, but rose. Likewise it is customary for the candle in the Advent wreath for this day to be rose instead of purple. It is the day on which we have a glimpse forward to the coming of Christ as celebrated on the Feast of the Nativity. It is a time to rejoice "...for the Lord is nigh." In the midst of our Advent penance and preparation, Gaudete Sunday provides a joyous reminder of just what and who it is we are anticipating. Gaudete Sunday is a time of both joy and anticipation. 

That Gaudete Sunday coincides (or "occurs," to use the technical term) with the Octave Day of the Immaculate Conception this year (as it sometimes does) is particularly interesting to me. The Introit of the mass of the Immaculate Conception begins "I will rejoice." Beyond that liturgical similarity, there is something even more significant. Surely the Immaculate Conception of our Lady as the pure vessel from which our Lord would be born was itself something both of joy and anticipation. Nine months later, she was born. Thus began the first period of anticipation. When she came of age, the Angel Gabriel came to her, and saluting her as full of grace, announced that the Lord was with her. She held in her hands the choice to accept or reject the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Let us rejoice and be thankful that she was the handmaid of the Lord. And then began the next period of anticipation as she carried our Lord within her. The birth of Christ was and is a cause for rejoicing. But then began the next period of anticipation as Christ grew to manhood, began His holy ministry, and then undertook the Passion, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven. During this period of anticipation were the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin. Yet imagine the joy of our Lady as she learned of the Resurrection! And imagine her joy as she was assumed, body and soul, into Heaven to be reunited with her Son and reign as Queen, interceding for us always. 

Thus it is that today on Gaudete Sunday we both experience the joy and anticipation of the coming birth of Christ and the Immaculate Conception of His most holy Mother in whose own joy and anticipation we share. We who stand at the foot of the Cross at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass stand alongside Mary Ever-Virgin and experience the joy of the triumph over death and the anticipation of everlasting life!