Bright pink flowers in front of the Trinity Church altar with the Lenten linen on it

Laetare Sunday

The fourth Sunday in Lent, coming up March 14, is known as Laetare Sunday. Laetare means “rejoice” in Latin, and the name is taken from the Introit traditionally recited on Laetare Sunday from Isaiah 66:10. An introit is a psalm or antiphon sung or said during the opening of Holy Eucharist. 

Laetare Sunday, also sometimes called “Refreshment Sunday,” serves as a break, about midway through the penitential Lenten season, an opportunity for one day to "rejoice" and look forward, with hope, to Easter. The readings often include uplifting stories—in the Roman Catholic church the parable of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with loaves and fishes also served as a kind of literal refreshment.

Flowers are used on the altar, and priests in many churches may wear rose-colored vestments, though Trinity’s clergy will not. The tradition of rose vestments may stem from an ancient Catholic tradition in which the pope sent golden roses to heads of state on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

In the United Kingdom, Laetare Sunday is also known as Mothering Sunday, a name taken from the practice of returning to the “mother church” (the church of one’s baptism, or the cathedral) on this day. It's also celebrated in the UK as Mother’s Day.

Simnel cake is the traditional food of Laetare Sunday. It’s a type of toasted fruitcake with marzipan, appropriate for a day without the restrictions of the Lenten fast.

Although Trinity Church Wall Street is customarily low-key about observing Laetare Sunday, if you watch the online Holy Eucharist on Sunday at 11:15am EDT, you will notice a floral arrangement that will feature the colors rose or pink. And please note that Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday at 2am so be sure to re-set your clocks so you can tune in to Trinity's online worship on time.

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