What Is Gaudete Sunday?

Learn more about the third Sunday of Advent

Anglo-Catholic Laetare Sunday
Anglo-Catholic Laetare Sunday

Certain Sundays throughout the liturgical year have taken their names from the first word in Latin of the Introit, the entrance antiphon at Mass. Gaudete Sunday is one of these. 

Gaudete Sunday is a joyous celebration. Although it takes place during the usually penitential period of Advent, Gaudete Sunday serves as a mid-point break from the austere practices to rejoice in the nearness of Jesus's return in three ways.

When is Gaudete?

Gaudete Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent. The date usually falls between December 11 to 17 each year. (See the Liturgical Calendar for Advent to find the date of Gaudete Sunday this year.)

Where Does the Name Come From?

The Introit for Gaudete Sunday, in both the Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo, is taken from Philippians 4:4,5: "Gaudete in Domino semper" ("Rejoice in the Lord always").

Priest Clothing

Like Lent, Advent is a penitential season, so the priest normally wears purple vestments. But on Gaudete Sunday, having passed the midpoint of Advent, the Church lightens the mood a little, and the priest may wear rose vestments. The change in color provides us with encouragement to continue our spiritual preparation—especially prayer and fasting—for Christmas.

Decor

For this same reason of lightening the mood, the third candle of the Advent wreath, first lit on Gaudete Sunday, is traditionally rose-colored.

Laetare Sunday

Gaudete Sunday is often compared to Laetare Sunday. Laetare Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Lent. Like Gaudete Sunday, Laetare Sunday has a more light-hearted, celebratory mood relative to Lent's usually strict mood.