Gaudete Sunday – Urgent revision of the liturgical calendar may be called for…
Sometimes when I’m bored. And I mean really bored – existentially bored – fed up with re-reading all the ingredients on a bottle of Lea and Perrins Worcester Sauce bored – I think of ways to reform the liturgical calendar.
Today is “Gaudete (plural imperative ‘rejoice’) Sunday” as I’m sure everyone knows. Originally, Advent was a penitential season, like Lent. Hence the same purple colour. The run up to Christmas was meant to be spent in prayer and fasting rather than struggling through overcrowded shopping malls buying superfluous tat for ingrates. We all have our own perception of what constitutes the more acute form of purgatorial ordeal – the prayer and fasting or the shopping.
I have a suggestion.
Gaudete Sunday was meant to be like “Refreshment Sunday” – which coincides with “Mothering Sunday” within the season of Lent, a day on which the various privations of Advent could be suspended for a few hours, a way of taking a lungful of air before returning to a regime of prayer, fasting and heartfelt reflection. Hence the softer “rose” colour of third candle – a softening of purple penitence. But these days, the “Festive Season” starts at the end of November. There is no penitence from which to be relieved…
There is, however, the opportunity to be relieved from compulsory jollification. We can retain Lent as a purple season and then soften Advent to a sort of Lavender colour. If capitalism dictates that Advent be part of the Christmas “season” then we can get one Sunday off the ordeal. This seems eminently fair to me. Let’s call it “Privation Sunday” or “Mortification Sunday” – just one Sunday in the month of December when we don’t have to (strike that – when we’re FORBIDDEN to) shop, carol or listen to the one surviving ‘work’ of Shakin’ Stevens in any way shape or form.
Who’s with me? Won’t Christmas burn brighter if we’re to deprived of it for just one day. Or won’t that day when we’re not struggling to get out of a narrow car parking space with a mass of foliage obscuring the rear view mirror seem all the more special and holy?
I think I’ll make a start and mortify myself a bit. I think I feel better already.