What Is Gaudete Sunday?

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. What Is Gaudete Sunday?

Gaudete Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent. (See the Liturgical Calendar for Advent to find the date of Gaudete Sunday this year.) 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").

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.

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

Gaudete Sunday has a counterpart in Lent: Laetare Sunday.