This weekend we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent. 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. For this same reason, the third candle of the Advent wreath, first lit on Gaudete Sunday, is traditionally rose-colored. The change in color provides us with encouragement to continue our spiritual preparation, especially prayer and fasting, for Christmas. I suppose one question we should ask ourselves at this point is how much time have we devoted to prayer and fasting during Advent? Have we devoted any time at all? If not, it is not too late to begin. If you have then take courage, the Christmas Season is almost upon us!
This past week we began the
Year of Mercy for which Pope Francis has called. At Holy Rosary’s 7pm Mass this past Tuesday for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary we sealed the Holy Jubilee Doors for our Deanery here in the Pierce County area. The Archbishop asked that each deanery designate a church, in addition to the Cathedral, where people could make a pilgrimage to in order to pass through the holy doors and receive the special plenary indulgence granted for this Year of Mercy. The parish chosen for our Deanery is Holy Rosary. We will be opening the doors this weekend for people to begin to pass through.
I am copying below part of what was sent to each parish to help us better understand the significance of the Jubilee Doors.
“A holy door or porta sancta has been used since the fifteenth century as a ritual expression of conversion. Pilgrims and penitents pass through it as a gesture of leaving the past behind and crossing the threshold from sin to grace, from slavery to freedom, and from darkness to light. Often these rituals are associated with prayer, pilgrimage, sacrifice, confession, and indulgences.
But a holy door finds meaning only when the believer associates the door with Christ. Jesus is the Door!
In the words of Pope Francis, “There is only one way that opens wide the entrance into the life of communion with God: this is Jesus, the one and absolute way to salvation. To him alone can the words of the Psalmist be applied in full truth: ‘This is the door of the Lord where the just may enter’ (Ps 118:20).”
I hope that people will come to Holy Rosary on pilgrimage seeking that conversion of heart to the Lord in this year of Mercy. I hope that Parishioners at Holy Rosary will not treat entering the door lightly, but pass through it in Thanksgiving to almighty God for the graces He bestows upon us and the mercy He grants us as we seek freedom in His forgiveness of our sins.