Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This weekend we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent, also known as Laetare Sunday, which is traditionally a day of celebration within the typically muted days of Lent. This Sunday gets its name from the first few words of the traditional Latin entrance (Introit) for the Mass of the day, "Laetare Jerusalem" ("Rejoice, O Jerusalem").

A Sunday of rejoicing lets us step away from our Lenten sacrifices, if only for a moment, to recharge our spirit for continuing our perseverance towards the Risen Lord! And might that be analogous to our lives in general, in that we experience a toggling between sufferings and consolations over time? The moments of rejoicing console us after some of life’s challenges or prepare and strengthen us for trials to come.

During this pandemic, we have certainly experienced our share of challenges, suffering, loss and simple, but irritating, inconveniences. However, we are starting to get a sense that there is a new day ahead soon, one we have been hoping for in Faith - vaccines are being distributed, restrictions are carefully being eased, and life seems to be returning to a sense of normalcy.

And while we must continue to be very prudent and careful - continuing limited Mass attendance, wearing masks, distancing and washing our hands - we can be encouraged by the good news around us.

One of the best gifts we will realize in the coming weeks is that we will be able to enter into the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter together, something we could not do last year; also, we are looking at developing safe ways for family members to start bringing Holy Communion to those with whom they live; we are restarting a limited public daily Mass schedule that we hope will expand over time; and, at some time yet to be determined, we are hoping to have some sort of parish celebration or festival to celebrate that day when we can safely gather in large groups again.

So, on this Laetare Sunday, let us all take a break from the sacrifices of Lent - in fact, the sacrifices of our lives - and spend some time rejoicing in the Lord today! There is much to rejoice about on our journey, but most especially we rejoice always because our Lord has saved us from our sins and given us the prospect of Heaven for all eternity - a Heaven in which we will be free from death, sorrow, and suffering forever! Rejoice, O Jerusalem!

Fr. Cook