Fourth Sunday of Lent


Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent or Laetare Sunday.  Laetare is the first word — meaning “rejoice” — in the Latin text. On Laetare Sunday (as similarly with the Third Sunday of Advent’s Gaudete Sunday) the Church expresses hope and joy amid our Lenten fasts and penances. The vestments worn by the priest are rose this day — this change in color indicates a glimpse of the joy that awaits us at Easter, just before we enter into the somber days of Passiontide.


This week we celebrate two great saints – St. Patrick, Patron saint of the Archdiocese of New York and St. Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


St. Patrick was a Roman of British origin, probably born near present-day Scotland. When he was sixteen years old, he was captured and sold into slavery. Six years later, he escaped and ended up on a ship bound for France where he trained for the priesthood at a monastery. Legend says that he used the shamrock to explain the difficult concept of the Trinity. An ardent and tireless missionary, Patrick endured much hardship, including beatings and imprisonment, to bring the Christian faith to the Celtic people. He has been honored as patron of Ireland since the seventh century.


St. Joseph was the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. According to the earliest Christian traditions, he was a carpenter or woodworker. The Gospel of Matthew calls him a “righteous man,” meaning he was an observant Jew who obeyed God’s law.  Joseph was engaged to Mary but when he discovered that she was pregnant with Jesus, he decided to quietly call off the marriage since the penalty for adultery was death by stoning. However, the angel of the Lord told him in a dream that he should go ahead with the marriage because Mary’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. This was the first of four divinely inspired dreams that are recorded in the Gospel of Matthew; for this reason, he is sometimes called “the dreamer.” After each of these dreams, “he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him” (Matthew 1:24).  The Solemnity of St. Joseph is celebrated on March 19th. He is the patron of the Catholic Church, unborn children, fathers, immigrants, workers, travelers, carpenters, realtors, and of a happy death. He is also honored as the patron saint of workers on May 1st.


Our Holy Father, Pope Francis has proclaimed 2021 The Year of St. Joseph and has encouraged all the faithful topray this prayer to St Josepheveryday:


Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To you God entrusted his only Son; in you Mary placed her trust; with you Christbecame man. Blessed Joseph, to us too, show yourself a father and guide us in the path of life. Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage, and defend us from every evil.Amen.