18 March 2007

A Rose by any other name

Today is the fourth Sunday of Lent, known as "Laetare Sunday". The colour of Lent is purple to remind us of the penitential nature of Lent, preparing for the most important event of Easter.
Knowing that we are human, the Church sets aside the fourth Sunday as an encouragement to the faithful. Basically it is a day off. "Laetare" is Latin for "Rejoice" and is taken from the first word of the Mass said according to the Traditional Rite.
So we celebrate! The best way for us was to invite a good priest friend of ours to join in with a fine feast (but muted - it is Lent after all!). He blessed us with the gift of this beautiful "Golden Rose". Father was praying for assistance in finding a rose somewhere on the trip from his place to ours. Sure enough, there was the shop selling just the right flower!
The Golden Rose is a symbol of Our Lord as it is traditionally considered one of the most beautiful of flowers, linking to the beauty of Our Lord, the fragrance of his goodness and glory, and symbolic of the nature of his sonship and the way God the Father views him. ("This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased") The thorns also remind us of the crown of thorns and his sufferings which we will remember much more vividly in a few week's time in the Passion week.
Traditionally a Golden Rose was blessed by the Pope and taken from the church of St John Lateran, the primary Church of Rome, in procession to the Basillica especially built to house relics of the True Cross, Gesu de Jerusalemme. This symbolised the link between the Rose and Jesus' suffering and death. (You can get more information from the online Catholic Encyclopedia here and here)
See, Catholics always mix the full nature of humanity by focussing on suffering and redemption at the same time. It is never just one or the other - it is always both. Think of Good Friday - the day Jesus was Crucified. It would take a Catholic mindset to call the day God was killed "Good"!

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