This past Sunday was the third Sunday in Advent, traditionally named Gaudete Sunday, for the Introit that starts with that word. Gaudete means “rejoice” and is the traditional break in the Advent fast leading to Christmas.
Now the worship sister from my home community wrote an enlightening email. Laetare Sunday is the break in the Lenten fast leading up to Easter, and she found the following clarification. Gaudete in Latin means to rejoice, but especially to rejoice internally. Laetare, or laetitia for the noun, means “joy,” but that is what is manifest and shown.
The altar at the Begijnhof is dressed in the traditional gentle rose hue and we are still enjoying the flowers from the Jubileums, the 50 year celebrations of our two sisters. Gaudete Sunday is a perfect time to recollect, breathe, cultivate and make room in our hearts for the internal and eternal peace and joy of the coming birth of our savior. We celebrated Gaudete with a small play, a visitation from Zwarte Piet, the Spanish sailor who traditionally accompanies Sinkt Nikolas,bringing gifts to the good and carrying off the bad to Spain! We rejoiced with some American egg nog, traditional in America but unheard of here. It delighted this American sister to find a recipe and make it to serve her sisters. A set of American measuring spoons was accidentally discovered in the back of a kitchen shelf which delightedly matched the recipe and made the making of this creamy Christmas drink a little easier. There is some amusing serendipity to overseas living.