National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Easter Is Near on ‘Rejoice’ Sunday

User's Guide to Sunday

BY Tom & April Hoopes

February 24-March 1, 2008 Issue | Posted 2/19/08 at 2:16 PM


March 2 is the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year A, Cycle II) — Laetare Sunday. On March 1, Pope Benedict XVI will announce news on causes of canonization at 11 am at the Apostolic Palace.


This Sunday, parishes will collect donations for Catholic Relief Services, which is now headed by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee.

Laetare Sunday is named after the ancient introit at Mass, “Laetare Jerusalem” (“Rejoice, Jerusalem”). Priests are given the option to wear rose-colored vestments at Masses held on this day (though they are not required to) in place of the purple vestments normally worn during Lent.

Like Gaudete Sunday midway through Advent, Laetare Sunday reminds us of that the penitential season is almost over. We have a little anticipated joy that we have turned the corner and Easter is near.


The excellent website “Women for Faith and Family” points out that, in England, this Sunday is known as Mothering Sunday because the epistle for the day referred to Jerusalem as “mother of us all.”

In the Middle Ages, a custom arose for people to visit the Church where they were baptized (their mother church).

It would be a good day to take children to see your “mother church,” if you live near it. Or you can take the kids to see the baptismal fonts at the church where they were baptized.

You could recall there the words of Pope John Paul II when he visited his own baptismal font shortly after becoming Pope:

“In this baptismal font, on June 20, 1920, I was given the grace to become a son of God, together with faith in my Redeemer, and I was welcomed into the community of the Church. I have already solemnly kissed this baptismal font in the year of the millennium of the Baptism of Poland, when I was Archbishop of Kraków. I kissed it again on the 50th anniversary of my baptism, when I was a Cardinal, and today I kiss this baptismal font for the third time, as I come from Rome as the Successor of St. Peter.” offers other Next Sunday Ideas.


1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13, Psalm 23:1-6, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41 or 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38 offers free homily packs for priests.

Our Take

Today’s readings are extraordinarily rich. They are about God choosing the weak and providing them his protection.

But today’s Gospel is a textbook reading about how faith comes to us and how the interaction between God’s grace and our free will works.

Here are the steps in the “conversion” of the man born blind.

• Jesus reaches him. In the Gospel story, the sight of the man born blind was given to the man through clay and a wash in a font. With us, our faith is given to us through material things that have been chosen and touched by God — namely, the sacraments.

• His neighbors notice. Those around him notice his change and can’t figure it out. Our “conversion” should also make an impression on others. And we can imitate the simple answers of the man born blind to their questions. He explains what happened to him, not attempting to spin the story. His answers are such that they raise questions about Christ in others.

• He suffers persecution. Because of his clear explanation, prominent people give the man born blind a hard time. They even drag his parents into it. Likewise, when we are touched and changed by our faith, we get some opposition from people close to us. But, like the man born blind, we should stick to our simple understanding of what’s going on.

• He goes deeper. The experience of being healed and then rejected makes the man born blind go deeper in his faith. And the means he uses to do so is another encounter with Christ — one that is sincere and open to Christ’s invitation to know him more.

It is a great Gospel for Laetare Sunday. It is time for us to go even deeper in our relationship with Christ as we prepare for Holy Week.

The Hoopeses are

editorial directors of

Faith & Family magazine (