Sunday, December 13, 2015THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT (Gaudete)
Gaudete literally means "rejoice," for the Lord is coming! And so on this Sunday you'll notice that the Advent purple gives way to a splash of rose. The frontal on the altar changes, the vestments of the clergy change, there are flowers, and the third candle—a rose one—is lit on the advent wreath. All of this is a bit of joy breaking into what is otherwise a penetential season.
If you pay attention to the order of service at the 11am Festal Eucharist, you'll notice that it includes (for the first time this Church Year) the Summary of the Law (Matthew 22:37-40) and the Comfortable Words (Matthew 11:28, John 3:16, 1 Timothy 1:15 and 1 John 2:1-2). Why do these suddenly appear in the liturgy when, on typical Sunday mornings at Saint Thomas, they are not said? Because these words are indeed a comfort to all faithful who are penitent, and therefore are appropriate for this Sunday of joy and comfort in the midst of a penetential season. You'll hear the same words said in Lent, on Laetare Sunday, which is the Lenten equivalent to Advent's Gaudete.
Joy also permeates the Liturgy of the Word. Notice, for example, that both the Old Testament Lesson and the Epistle for Year C have the word "rejoice" in them—Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem [Zephaniah 3:14] and Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice [Philippians 4:4].
Stir up thy power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honor and glory, world without end. Amen.