The Deacon's Bench

At countless churches around the world this Sunday, Lenten purple will give way to…pink?!

No. Rose. The vestments are rose.

It is Laetare Sunday, described succinctly right here:

The fourth, or middle, Sunday of Lent, so called from the first words of the Introit at Mass, “Laetare Jerusalem” — “Rejoice, O Jerusalem”. During the first six or seven centuries the season of Lent commenced on the Sunday following Quinquagesima, and thus comprised only thirty-six fasting days. To these were afterwards added the four days preceding the first Sunday, in order to make up the forty days’ fast, and one of the earliest liturgical notices of these extra days occurs in the special Gospels assigned to them in a Toulon manuscript of 714. Strictly speaking, the Thursday before Laetare Sunday is the middle day of Lent, and it was at one time observed as such, but afterwards the special signs of joy permitted on this day, intended to encourage the faithful in their course through the season of penance, were transferred to the Sunday following. They consist of (like those of Gaudete Sunday in Advent) in the use of flowers on the altar, and of the organ at Mass and Vespers; rose-coloured vestments also allowed instead of purple, and the deacon and subdeacon wear dalmatics, instead of folded chasubles as on the other Sundays of Lent. The contrast between Laetare and the other Sundays is thus emphasized, and is emblematical of the joys of this life, restrained rejoicing mingled with a certain amount of sadness.

Well, the “folded chasubles” are no longer in vogue — that entry from the Catholic Encyclopedia dates to 1910 — but rose is still the rage (as you can see from the pope’s picture from last year.) Another take comes from The Curt Jester:

Some people especially men experience gastrointestinal upset and skin problems at the site of priests wearing apparently pink vestments. Telling them that these vestments are actually suppose to be Rose colored to rejoice in Christ’s redemption to look up and see the first rays of Easter is of no avail. Regardless of any efforts to explain why a Rose is appropriate they still see pink vestments. This condition is known as Laetare Intolerance and the sufferers are Laetare sensitive.

The Jester offers a cure, so make sure you visit his link.

Pepto Bismol, anyone?

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