Today is Laetare Sunday which is the fourth Sunday in Lent. Like Guadete Sunday in Advent, it falls in the middle of the penitential season so that we can reflect upon the great celebration to come. The priest wears rose vestments instead of purple. The rose vestments are worn as a symbol of joy and hope in the middle of the somber season of Lent. Laetare means “rejoice” in Latin, so we should rejoice knowing that we are almost to Easter.
Laetare Sunday is also known as “Rose Sunday” because the pope carries a golden rose in his right hand when returning from the celebration of Mass. The golden rose represents Christ in the shining splendor of His majesty, the “flower sprung from the root of Jesse”.
And Laetare Sunday is also known as “Mothering Sunday”. St. Paul’s words in the Mass of the day give Mothering Sunday its name:
But that Jerusalem, which is above, is free: which is our mother”. ~Galatians 4:26
The old custom of visiting the cathedral, or “mother church” of the diocese on this day is another reason for the name. In England, natural mothers are honored today in a manner similar to the American “Mother’s Day”.