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Gaudete Sunday, pronounced gow-day-tay, is the third Sunday of Advent. This year it is celebrated on December 17, 2017. The day takes its common name from the Latin word gaudete, which means rejoice. 

Represented by A Rose Color

One of the candles in the Advent wreath is rose-colored, for Gaudete Sunday or Joy Sunday, the beginning of the third week in Advent. At Gaudete Sunday Mass, the priest wears the rose vestments instead of violet, which is otherwise prescribed for every day in the season of Advent.

Like Laetare Sunday in Lent

Gaudete Sunday is a counterpart to Laetare Sunday, and provides a similar break about midway through a season which is otherwise of a penitential character, and signifies the nearness of the Lord’s coming.

A Break from Preparation to Rejoice

While the theme of Advent is a focus on the coming of Jesus in three ways: His first, His present and His final Advent, the readings for Gaudete Sunday deal with rejoicing in the Lord — Christian joy — as well as the mission of St. John the Baptist and his connection with Advent.

Joy vs. Happiness

Theologian Henri Nouwen described the difference between joy and happiness. While happiness is dependent on external conditions, joy is “the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing — sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death — can take that love away.” Thus joy can be present even in the midst of sadness.

Pope Francis’s Words of Wisdom

In his 2014 Gaudete Sunday homily, Pope Francis said that Gaudete Sunday is known as the “Sunday of joy,” and that instead of fretting about “all they still haven’t” done to prepare for Christmas, people should “think of all the good things life has given you.”