Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today we celebrate what is traditionally called “Gaudete Sunday.” With “Laetare Sunday”
during Lent, it is one of the two days of the year that the priest can wear a Rose vestment.
The word gaudete means rejoice, and it comes from the entrance antiphon of the Mass,
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near” (Philippians 4:4-5).
As we are more than halfway to Christmas, we brighten the somber violet to heighten our
sense of anticipation at the joy to come. We reflect on the light which will come into the darkness
of the world, the savior who brings hope and the promise of a world transformed in goodness.
And maybe we’re getting excited for the food and gifts too… Though seriously, as I
mentioned last week, Advent is historically a time of fasting, so this weekend would have
added significance as people would grow in eagerness as the day approached to break the fast.
With this increasing excitement for the approaching day, our desire to prepare ourselves
should also be heightened. If we are inviting Christ to dwell in our hearts this Christmas, we
should feel even more urgently the need to “prepare the way of the Lord” and straighten up
One of the greatest gifts the Church gives us to do that is confession, and it’s one of the
best kept Catholic secrets. So few of us take advantage of it, but if we truly believe in its
power, how can we not go, and go often? God forgives us all of our sins, allows us to start
fresh, and gives us the grace to transform our lives and overcome even those deepest, darkest
failings. Even if we haven’t gone in many years, and our souls are piled high with things we
aren’t quite proud of, it only takes that one visit to be as fresh as the day of our baptism. I go
at least monthly myself, not because I’m a great saint, and hopefully not because I’m a great
sinner, but because I know if I keep going, each time God will help me make even a little progress
as I strive to grow in holiness.
I mention this today in particular, because tomorrow (Monday December 17th) we will
be having a bit of a confession extravaganza here at Notre Dame. Like the Monday of Holy
Week, priests will be in the confessional almost all day during adoration – from 12:30PM to
8PM. I urge everyone to consider coming to spend some time with the Lord, examine our
lives, and bring to him those ways we know we need to grow. It can be intimidating, especially
after a long time, but as a wise priest once told me – just go and get in the box, and it’ll
be easy from there. All of the priests here are happy to help, and want nothing more than to
help you share in the joy of Christ’s mercy and love which pours forth from the confessional.
As we rejoice this weekend, anticipating the approaching feast, may we know that the greatest
joy is found when we sweep clean our hearts, so that there is plenty of room for the Christ
child to come make his dwelling within us.
Yours in Christ,