The Fourth Sunday of Lent --
Laetare Sunday (Mid-Lent, Refeshment or Mothering Sunday)

Traditionally each Mass had an entrance antiphon. This is a sentence or two most often from the scriptures that were sung at the beginning of Mass. In times past, people gave a title to each Sunday's Mass from the first word (in Latin) of the day's antiphon.

The antiphon for the Fourth Sunday of Lent is from the 66th chapter of the Book of Isaiah. It begins, "Rejoice, Jerusalem! Come together, you who love her" In Latin, one of the words used for "rejoice" is laetare. So today is named Laetare Sunday.

In biblical poetry, the city of Jerusalem is called our mother. Perhaps this means that Jerusalem is the source of our life. Christian poets have said that on earth we feel homesick for heaven, for the new Jerusalem. Deep down, we want to go home.

In a wonderful and mysterious way, the Easter celebration is a homecoming. It is a march into heaven. Maybe that's why there are so many pro cessions in the liturgies of these days. Today, on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, we are halfway to Easter.

(Adapted from Companion to the Calendar by Mary Ellen Hynes for Liturgy Training Publications).