Gaudete, which means rejoice, is the name of the Sunday midway into Advent. Gaudete Sunday is an old term, perhaps from as old as the Fifth Century, when Advent was a penitential season, the same as Lent. And like Lent’s Laetare Sunday, Gaudete Sunday was a break from the severity of fasting and penitence.
In the mid-60s, Vatican II changed Advent from a penitential season to one of rejoicing and expectation; but with John Paul II, Advent again became penitential.
I wonder about this word, penitential from the Latin, to repent. I wrote about repent on Tuesday. As an interesting sidebar, penitentiary is from the same root meaning.
Doesn’t that whole concept lead to thinking we’re unworthy? And doesn’t feeling unworthy lead to ineffective behavior? To anger. To proving we’re “good enough.” To judging others.
What might happen if we were to think of ourselves whole and holy? How would we act if we believed our spirit is the same spirit breathed by all?
What would life be like if we were to daily rejoice?
Holy One, enter us as we breathe. Help us believe we are beautiful and loved and good enough. Help us rejoice in our lives and the lives of those we meet on our road, those who struggle in their journey, those who have forgotten how to rejoice. Help us believe that all we meet are good enough and holy.