Both Advent, leading up to Christmas, and Lent, leading up to Easter, are solemn times in the Roman Catholic Church. But midway through both, there’s a bit of a break, with a Sunday dedicated to joy.
For Advent, it’s Gaudete Sunday (that rose-colored candle among the purple ones in the Advent wreath), and in Lent this year, it’s March 10, Laetare Sunday. It takes its name from the first word of a Scripture quote that opens the Mass for the fourth week of Lent: Isaiah 66: 10-11, “Rejoice, Jerusalem!”
While there’s no Lenten wreath, the priestly vestments are traditionally penitential purple during this period, but on this Sunday, they change to joyful rose pink.
The cardinals now gathered at the Vatican in Rome to elect a new pope – that process begins on Tuesday, March 12 – dispersed to celebrate Sunday Mass at their titular churches across the city, which they received as part of their elevation to cardinal.
Among the possible popes receiving a lot of buzz in the media are two Americans: Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City, and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston.
As reported by the Catholic News Agency, Missouri native Dolan headed to Our Lady of Guadalupe parish – named after a vision of the Virgin Mary that appeared to Mexican peasant Juan Diego in 1556 – beginning his homily with, “Listen, this is our secret, after Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, this is my favorite church.”
Pennsylvania-born, multilingual O’Malley – a member of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor Capuchin – who offered his homily at Our Lady of Victory parish in Italian followed by some English remarks, called upon the Holy Spirit to aid the cardinals in their choice.
But he made it clear that he is not campaigning for the office — which, ironically, could be considered a qualification for pontiff – by saying, as reported in the Vatican Insider, “I assure you I will be returning to Boston after the Conclave and may take the statue of Saint Teresa with me.”
(He was referring to the Bernini sculpture, “The Ecstasy of St. Teresa,” which sits above the altar in the church’s Cornaro Chapel).
In keeping with the theme of Laetare Sunday, at least one Catholic Websites is having fun with the conclave, in particular the media coverage of it.