Can you explain the difference between gaudete and laetare? Gaudete seems to be 2nd person plural, imperative, while laetare appears to be an infinitive, both seem to mean rejoice in those respective forms. But the roots are different, so is there a subtle difference in meaning? Thanks and happy Laetare Sunday!
Firstly, Laetare and Gaudete Sundays are slight liturgical breathers before plunging back into the last period of preparation before the great feasts of Easter and the Nativity of the Lord.
The nickames for the Sundays are derived from the first word of the Introit antiphon. Gaudete (plural imperative of gaudeo) is from Philippians 4:4-6 and is Latin for Greek xairete. Laetare (singular imperative of laetor which is deponent) is from Isaiah 66:10-11 and Latin for Hebrew samah.
There is no substantial difference in meaning between the forms of gaudeo and laetor here. You can go to the context of Philippians and of Isaiah and see if the prophet and the Apostle are talking about different objects of joy.
Isaiah 66 has the prophet explain how God rewards right worship. He rewards with abundance and blessings. Bad worship… not so much. Philippians 4 says be joyful and peaceful for the Lord is near, so give yourself over to good things.
There are differences in tone between the Lenten and Adventen Sundays, as you might expect. But don’t read much into the forms Laetare and Gaudete. Go to the Biblical context and frame the whole context in the moment of Mass (Introit) and season.