Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam
We Catholics often get a bum rap about having a rigid religion, from inside and outside the membership. If you want to project a stern religious environment, there are few stock characters as reliable as the strict nun. Also, thanks to the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, American Catholicism is often out of step with the rest of the world, including Pope Francis. Catholicism is often associated with a cultural conservatism and rigidity that undermine some of the more interesting and human aspects of the Church.
Take Laetare Sunday, a most Roman Catholic notion. Basically it is the half way point through lent and it is meant to be a time of celebration, or to use the Latin translation: Rejoice! While Sundays during Lent are not part of the 40 days of observance, the intention of Laetare is to pretty much take it to that next level. Think about that for a second. In the middle of this period of fasting, penance, reflection and alms giving, we have set aside a day to not just ease up on our practices, which Sundays are for, but to, in fact, rejoice. I don’t know about you, but rejoice has a pretty powerful connotation. It’s more than just an extra donut on Sunday. I don’t know if it goes all the way to a Carnival kind of level, but pretty close. If I were to put a song to it, or a moment it would be something akin to that release of joy when the game winning hit is struck, or more long lasting when Phish have built up an amazing jam, and then releasing it at that right moment and the entire crowd cheers. It is that euphoria of the moment, but then that joyous time after, that afterglow.
I’ll admit, mostly because of my wife giving me grief about it, I pretty much keep up with my Lenten practices on Sundays, the consequences of being a pastor’s kid I suppose. What’s funny is that I haven’t really missed my social media outlets even on Sundays. There have been a few times that I’ve had a quip or seen something I wanted to share, but the daily (in twitter’s case, constant) checking of sites has not been a missed chore. As a matter of fact, this past Laetare Sunday, when I was rejoicing in an absolutely fabulous way by playing golf, I actually missed mass. Not just missed it because I was golfing, but missed it as an experience. With the kids in CCD, I tend to get to mass much more frequently and since the turn of the year, we’ve been going pretty regularly. It’s gotten back to routine and during Lent I’ve been particularly enjoying it. I don’t regret golfing, not by a long shot, but I wish I could have added to a joyful day by attending the celebration in church. Something to remember come next year.