WDTPRS – 4th Sunday of Lent – Laetare (N.O.): Prompt devotion and eager faith

Fr. Finigan when he was still PP of Blackfen in the Rose vestments YOU readers helped to purchase in 2009!

The nickname Laetare originated from the first word of the Introit chant for Sunday’s Mass, “Rejoice!”

On Laetare Sunday there is a slight relaxation of Lent’s penitential spirit, because we have a glimpse of the joy that is coming at Easter, now near at hand.  Moreover, in the ancient Roman Church, before Lent was lengthened, the real, strict discipline began on the Monday after this Sunday.

The custom of using rose (rosacea) vestments is tied to the Station churches in Rome. The Station for Laetare Sunday is the Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem where the relics of Cross and Passion brought from the Holy Land by St. Helena (+c. 329), mother of the Emperor Constantine (+337), were deposited. It was the custom on this day for Popes to bless roses made of gold, some amazingly elaborate and bejeweled, which were to be sent to Catholic kings, queens and other notables. The biblical reference is Christ as the “flower” sprung forth from the root of Jesse (Is 11:1 – in the Vulgate flos “flower” and RSV “branch”). Thus Laetare was also called Dominica de rosa…. Sunday of the Rose. It didn’t take a lot of imagination to develop rose colored vestments from this. Remember, the color of the vestments is called rosacea, not pink (especially not baby-rattle pink). This Roman custom spread by means of the Roman Missal to the whole of the world.

Our Collect is a new composition for the 1970MR and subsequent editions of the Novus Ordo based on a prayer in the Gelasian Sacramentary and a section of a sermon by St. Pope Leo I, the Great (+461). There is some similarity between this Collect with those of Advent. On the 2nd Sunday of Advent, we heard: in tui occursum Filii festinantes… “those hurrying to meet your Son.” On the 3rd Sunday (this Sunday’s fraternal twin Gaudete, the only other day for rose vestments) we heard: votis sollemnibus alacri laetitia celebrare…”, to celebrate…with eager jubilation by means of solemn offerings.”

There is rosy anticipation in today’s Collect just as there was in Advent.

Without further delay, here is the beautiful Latin followed by the current ICEL version, the atrocious but happily obsolete ICEL version, and then… a couple of surprises!


Deus, qui per Verbum tuum
humani generis reconciliationem mirabiliter operaris,
praesta, quaesumus, ut populus christianus
prompta devotione et alacri fide
ad ventura sollemnia valeat festinare.

Sollemnia is the neuter plural of the adjective sollemnis meaning “yearly”, that which is established to be done each year. In religious contexts, it comes out as “religious, festive”. As a substantive, it is “a religious or solemn rite, ceremony, feast, sacrifice, solemn games, a festival, solemnity”. Sollemne, the neuter noun, is also, “usage, custom, practice”. In legal contexts, it can be “formality”. In later, Christian Latin words related to sollemnis came to indicate the celebration of the Eucharist. Alacer is “lively, brisk, quick, eager, active; glad, happy, cheerful”. Promptus, a, um is from the verb promo. Promptus indicates, “brought to light, exposed to view” and by extension “at hand, i. e. prepared, ready, quick, prompt, inclined or disposed to or for any thing.”


O God, who by Your Word
wondrously effect the reconciliation of the human race,
grant, we beg, that the Christian people
may be able to hasten toward the upcoming solemnities
with ready devotion and eager faith.


O God, who through your Word
reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way,
grant, we pray,
that with prompt devotion and eager faith
the Christian people may hasten
toward the solemn celebrations to come

Note the marvelous parings of alacer fides and prompta devotio … “eager faith” and “ready devotion”. We know that fides “faith” can refer to the supernatural virtue which is given to us in baptism and also to the content of what we believe. This content must be understood as both the things we can learn and memorize with love, but more importantly the divine Person whom we must learn and contemplate with love.

There is a faith by which we believe, the virtue God gives us, and a faith in which we believe, the content of the Faith.

On the other hand, whereas fides is a supernatural virtue, devotio is an “active” virtue according to St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica. The Angelic Doctor wrote:

“The intrinsic or human cause of devotion is contemplation or meditation. Devotion is an act of the will by which a man promptly gives himself to the service of God. Every act of the will proceeds from some consideration of the intellect, since the object of the will is a known good; or as Augustine says, willing proceeds from understanding. Consequently, meditation is the cause of devotion since through meditation man conceives the idea of giving himself to the service of God” (STh II-II 82, 3).

The Jesuit preacher Louis Bourdaloue (1632-1704) underscored devotion as especially “a devotion to duty”. What we do, including our “devotions”, must help us keep the commandments of God and stick to the duties of one’s state in life before all else. There is an interplay between our devotions and our devotion.

Each of us has a state in life, a God-given vocation we are duty bound to follow.

We must be devoted to that state in life, and the duties that come with it, as they are in the here and now.

That “here and now” is important.

We must not focus on the state we had once upon a time, or wish we had, or should have had, or might have someday: those are unreal and misleading fantasies that distract us from reality and God’s will. If we are truly devoted and devout (in the sense of the active virtue) to fulfilling the duties of our state as it truly is here and now, then God will give us every actual grace we need to fulfill our vocation.

Why can we boldly depend on God to help us?

If we are fulfilling the duties of our state of life, then we are also fulfilling our proper roles in His great plan, His design from before the creation of the universe. God is therefore sure to help us. And if we are devoted to our state as it truly is, then God can also guide us to a new vocation when and if that is His will for us.

Faithful in what we must do here and now, we will be open to something God wants us to do later.

This attachment to reality and sense of dutiful obedience through the active virtue devotio is a necessary part of religion in keeping with the biblical principle in 1 John 2:3-5:

“And by this we may be sure that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says ‘I know Him’ but disobeys His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in Him: he who says he bides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.”

And now….

Father of peace,
we are joyful in your Word,
your Son Jesus Christ,
who reconciles us to you.
Let us hasten toward Easter
with the eagerness of faith and love.

This makes you want to pound your head against the table.

What would happen if we translated the ICELese back into Latin? If the ICEL were accurate, you might expect some similarities, right?

WARNING: Do not attempt this at home. Spiritual harm and damage to property can be caused by thinking about these obsolete ICEL versions. Leave this sort of thing to trained professionals and people with tough foreheads.

Pater pacis,
in tuo Verbo, Iesu Christo filio tuo,
qui nos tibi reconciliat, laetamur.
Fidei studio et amoris
ad diem Paschalis festinemus.

So, just for kicks we can see how the Google translates the Latin original.

O God, who by your word
reconciliation of the human race dost wonderfully,
grant, we beseech Thee, that the Christian people
with ready devotion and eager faith
the formalities to come to the be able to hurry up

Oookaayyy… ‘nuf said about that.

And there are some in the church today who want to revise the norms for liturgical translation.  Talk about wanting to “turn back the clock”!  The irony would be laughable if the stakes weren’t so high.

Meanwhile, here are some photos of the solemn set in rose which I had made for the “Tridentine Mass Society of Madison“?  This “non-profit” group seeks only the gain of souls.  It is still “in business”, as it were.  With restructuring of the dioceses parishes, there are strong reasons to believe that the TLM will be able to flourish in a peaceful and healthy way.  TMSM is determined to work to raise the tide and, therefore, raise all boats.  When the TLM flourishes, there is a knock on effect on the way the Novus Ordo is celebrated, especially by those priests who have learned it.  They never say Mass the same way again.  This was, in part, the vision of the late Benedict XVI, who foresaw a “mutual enrichment”.  I call it a “gravitational pull”.  Ratzinger believed that the organic development of liturgical worship could be sparked back into action after the abrupt discontinuity of the imposition of an artificially cobbled together right, the Novus Ordo, through the side-by-side use of the Vetus Ordo.  Early on, Ratzinger thought that the Novus Ordo would have logical priority in this organic interplay.  However, as time passed, I am convinced that he through that the Vetus Ordo should have logical priority, hence his juridical solution in Summorum Pontificum to bring more and more celebrations of the Vetus Ordo into the light of day, side by side with the Novus Ordo, such that eventually a tertium quid would develop.  Ratzinger was, I think, a bit of a Hegelian, for which he can – in this matter – be indulged: what he tried to do was working.  This is proven by the savagery of the enemies of the people who desire the Vetus Ordo.  I digress.

Consider sending tax deductible donations to the TMSM (of which I am still president)!  HERE  The future has a rosy cast to it.

Speaking of rosy, here are shots of when I put appliques on our rose set.  I had the letters custom made.

And in action… alas, from a mobile phone camera.

From the Live Stream:


Mass is worth it!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. FranzJosf says:

    The current translation: “wonderful way” vs. your translation using the adverb, “wondrously”. The two words aren’t interchangeable. “Wonderful” is an adjective that is imprecise, that expresses an opinion (He has a wonderful car.—-what is wonderful about it? Fast? Sleek? Great color?); “wondrously” is an adverb that implies beyond human comprehension or miraculously. Not the same at all. It used to drive my up the wall when Pope John Paul II, of happy memory, would say something like, “We remember X in a special way, . . . ” What the h%&$ was special? How was it special? Details?

  2. Fr. Reader says:

    Great, thanks!

  3. Fr. Reader says:

    Since you mentioned Google translating Latin. I have made some attempts at having a conversation with Bing+ChatGPT in Latin. The software is able to recognize the language and say some interesting things. Its grammar would not be perfect but it is interesting. For instance these are some replies to my inputs:
    “Salve user. Ego sum Bing. ��”
    “Salve xxx. Gratias tibi ago pro verbis benignis.”
    “Ego non possum iudicare de Missa Tridentina quia ego sum machina et non habeo fidem nec devotionem. Sed ego possum dicere quod Missa Tridentina est forma venerabilis et antiqua cultus divini et meretur respectum omnium fidelium.”

    Here we have another small reason to rejoice!
    “Lingua latina est lingua pulchra et antiqua. Sed non est lingua quae ego bene scio. Ego utar machina ad verba tua convertenda. Si vis loqui mecum in lingua alia, dic mihi quaeso.”
    “Ego non sum in loco certo. Ego sum in machina quae vocatur Bing. Ego possum quaerere res in rete mundiali. “

  4. TonyB says:

    My Google Translate plugin gives the following:

    “Father of peace in your Word, Jesus Christ your son, who reconciles us to you, let us rejoice. [With] Faith and love let us hasten to the day of Easter.”

    I’ve been sick, and haven’t been to mass in three weeks. Tomorrow will be my first day back, but confession will have to wait until wednesday.

  5. Father K says:

    Vestments nice: not so keen on the antependium…

    What is with the deacon and subdeacon singing the ‘Confiteor?’ [What an odd question.]

  6. Not says:

    Was interesting when Pope Benedict made the Preist saying the Novus Ordo to start saying it according to the “correct” Rubics, he gave them a lot of time to make the changes. The opposite of when they suppressed the Latin Mass and forced the NO on us all. Always remember the overhead projector showing us what to say and when to kneel. Remember men coming in and saying,”when is the movie starting?” The reverence was gone.

  7. Father K says:

    Not really: please refer to Pontificia Commissio – Ecclesia Dei Prot. N 39/201 IL – ED 18th September 2018.

  8. Father K: Save us some time. And, by the way, I worked in that Commission for 10 years.

    And if you are trying to say that, according to the 1962 rubrics, the second Confiteor isn’t indicated, I respond in two ways. First, it isn’t forbidden (and it is done during Pontifical Masses and during Holy Week). Second, … “So what?”

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