Sunday, March 15, 2015

Interfaith Days: Veneration of the Holy Cross, Laetare Sunday

In Orthodox Christianity, today is the third Sunday of Great Lent, the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross. The day connects to the upcoming Good Friday, but also to the feasts of the Corss on August 1 and September 14. The scripture is Galatians 5:24, where Paul reminds the church that we have "crucified the flesh," that is, we've offered to Christ's healing power the wrong desires of our human nature.  As this site teaches, we "will have mortified ourselves during these forty days of the Fast, the precious and life-giving Cross is now placed before us to refresh our souls and encourage us who may be filled with a sense of bitterness, resentment, and depression. The Cross reminds us of the Passion of our Lord, and by presenting to us His example, it encourages us to follow Him in struggle and sacrifice, being refreshed, assured, and comforted. In other words, we must experience what the Lord experienced during His Passion - being humiliated in a shameful manner. The Cross teaches us that through pain and suffering we shall see the fulfillment of our hopes: the heavenly inheritance and eternal glory."

In Roman Catholic churches, this is Laetare Sunday, or the fourth Sunday of Lent. "Laetare" means "rejoice" in the imperative form and comes from the day's introit, "Laetare Jerusalem." The Gospel is the story of the loaves and fishes, John 6:1-15. The day is also called Rose Sunday because the vestments may be changed from purple to rose, brightening the solemnity of the season with the color of flowers. A similar day is Gaudate Sunday during Advent.

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