Lent is Hard to Do and Other Earth Shattering Insights for Laetare Sunday

by | Mar 30, 2014 | Lent, Liturgical Living | 27 comments

It’s Laetare Sunday! If you just said, “Huh?” You’re not alone. But here’s a hint: You know how almost never, but it seems like maybe a couple times a year the priest wear pink vestments? That’s today.

From Scott P. Richert at the very excellent About.com Catholicism page:

Laetare Sunday is the popular name for the Fourth Sunday in Lent. (See When Is Laetare Sunday? for the date of Laetare Sunday in this and future years.) Laetare means “Rejoice” in Latin, and the Introit (entrance antiphon) in both the Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo is Isaiah 66:10-11, which begins “Laetare, Jerusalem” (“Rejoice, O Jerusalem”).

Because the midpoint of Lent is the Thursday of the third week of Lent, Laetare Sunday has traditionally been viewed as a day of celebration, on which the austerity of Lent is briefly lessened. The passage from Isaiah continues, “rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow,” and on Laetare Sunday, the purple vestments and altar cloths of Lent are set aside, and rose ones are used instead. Flowers, which are normally forbidden during Lent, may be placed on the altar. Traditionally, the organ was never played during Lent, except on Laetare Sunday.
Laetare Sunday is also known as Rose Sunday or Refreshment Sunday, and it has a counterpart in AdventGaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, when purple vestments are exchanged for rose ones. The point of both days is to provide us encouragement as we progress toward the end of each respective penitential season.

So, today, we will be celebrating with a Pink Raspberry Ombre Cake. Ours will be from this recipe, but a smaller 5 in round cake and only three layers (like this one we made last year), because we don’t want leftovers now do we?

Also, since Lent is halfway over . . .

we’ll be assessing how things are going with the Lenten resolutions and disciplines I talked about here.

There is plenty of room left in the old bean jar.

I feel like it’s been hard to get much traction with Lent this year, what with all the feasts coming one on top of the other right at the beginning. I prefer them coming towards the end, as a gentle easing-in to Easter. But, no one asked me. Apparently someone put the moon in charge of when Easter is. Whatever.
It might be a long haul from here on out. Which is ever more reason to buckle back down if we don’t feel like Lent has been going as well as it ought. Half a Lent is a hundred times better than no Lent at all.
Here’s how it’s been going here . . .


So, so, so well. This is what our playroom and toy closet looked like today, with me not having said a thing about it in at least two days, so I’m assuming no tidying has happened at all:
I can live with that.
And even more importantly, this is what our dining room table looks like as I write this, without me having said anything about that either:
My kids are being creative, and playing together, and doing crafts we’ve had on a shelf for ages. It warms the cockles of my heart.


This one has been really hard and also really great. It might be the best thing I’ve ever personally done for Lent. I have to be mindful of it at all times.
I fail every day, multiple times per day. I fail because I forget, and I fail because I lose my temper, and I fail because I rebel. And every time, I get to realize my failure, and make a new resolution to do better. It has been a very useful experiment.


This one has been going well too. I’m actually doing it, and making sure the kids do it too. We all leave the car with all the stuff we brought into it.
I like it because there was no excuse but laziness for just leaving all that stuff in the car. It was so easy to just say, “I can’t bring that in, I’ve got to get the baby.” or “I’m in a hurry, I’ll grab that next time.”
It’s really it’s own reward. It’s awfully nice to get into a car that’s not ankle-deep in junk.


This one is the biggest surprise to me. Our family has given up treats and TV as a family for many years now, and it’s always been really, really hard for me. But, somehow, this year, it’s really not bad. Granted, there have been a bunch of feasts, so I’ve had more treats that I normally would have by this time in Lent, but I have spent other Lents thinking a great deal about Dr. Pepper, and this Lent pretty much not at all.
I watched an episode of Foyle’s War on St. Joseph’s Day, LOVED it, and haven’t watched another one since. Even though at least three feast days have passed since then. There was just other stuff I wanted to do. There’s no way I could have said that in previous years.
But there’s been not-so-good stuff as well. Here’s what needs to be reassessed or re-resolved . . .


We have sent letters to Uncle Pat in Iraq, once. And to great-grandmother, once. And I did manage to mail out some books I owed people. But this one gets a C+ at best. If I can get another round of letters out to those two in the second half of Lent, plus to both grandmothers, maybe I’ll give us a B.


Ugh. Perhaps some year I’ll be able to write a post about how hopeless I was at daily prayer and how I overcame my limitations of distractedness and busyness and children to triumph in my prayer life. But this is not that year.
I was thinking last week about writing a post about how there are seasons of life and this is a Martha-season for me, but there will be time enough for a Mary-season later, later, later.
But the very next morning I got Fr. Baron’s Lenten reflection email, which basically said, and I’m paraphrasing here: “Dear Kendra, If you think you can just ‘pray while you work’ and that’s it, you are a big dummy.”
Then, over the next two days, I read the second section of Introduction to the Devout Life for my ladies’ book club, which is just one big long: ” Attention Kendra Tierney. Praying is important. Like, really, really important. All the holy people are doing it.”
Don’t believe me? See for yourself: on paper or online.
I really can’t get to daily Mass right now. This baby is a sleeper-inner. If I go to the later Mass, school doesn’t happen. And I just can’t bring myself to wake up the baby four hours before she would normally wake up. But I can and should be spending time in prayer every morning. St. Francis DeSales says an hour. I countered with one minute, and we have settled upon fifteen. For starters. First thing in the morning.—————

Speaking of mornings, here’s our morning update . . .

Pink waffles for breakfast:

Pink what we wore Sunday:

So that’s us.

What are you doing for Laetare Sunday, and how is your Lent going, so far?


  1. Christy from fountains of home

    Finally! You're watching Foyle's War! I feel so much better about the world at large now. The later seasons are much weaker…but the majority are so good.

    And Lulu! I'm dying…she's so adorable and I concur on not waking up babies early…that's pretty much my number one reason to homeschool. You Tierney ladies look fab in pink today!

  2. violinp

    I feel you on the daily prayer thing. I've managed to pray in the morning, evening, and at mealtimes, but that's it (I'm trying to pray also at noon and in the afternoon).

    But, that's the beauty of Christianity. We'll always be works in progress, and the Lord will get many, many times to work His grace in your life, my life, and every life. 🙂

    • Kendra

      We had a visiting priest today, who SAID he was wearing "lighter colored vestments" but they looked purple to us. The kids were kinda bummed.

  3. Amelia Bentrup

    Daily prayer is really, really, really, really hard for me as well. I can manage praying with my kids or praying with my husband, but just praying alone…wow it's hard. I get distracted so, so, so, so easily.

  4. Ann-Marie Ulczynski

    Love all the pink; I mean, rose. Getting up early for prayer time has been wonderful for me. I am even finding myself getting up early on the weekends just to have it. Blessed, blessed silence. So wonderful. Glad your blend is going well. I felt the same way about Fr. Baron'a email.

  5. Kelsey V.

    I wish our parish used the rose vestments. I love the symbolism of Laetare Sunday. Thanks for a lovely post, and for being honest about your struggles and successes during Lent!

  6. Nanacamille

    Those are the cutest chubby pink legs ever not to mention the Sweet smile. You ladies are so pretty in pink that I think we should do it again for Easter and include the boys this time. It won't be hard since I cleaned out gymboree of everything pink. It will make the rest of Lent easier just thinking of what sweet treats the kids will be that Sunday but of course the boys will be be ruddy rough pink. Don't care for Easter being this late in the year but they didn't ask me to pick the date so oh well.

  7. Lindsay

    Holy cow! Those baby shoes-on-leggings things are the best idea ever. I must have a daughter and dress her in them all the time. Must.

    • Kendra

      Yes! They are so brilliant. Someone must have invented them between 2004 and 2009 because I didn't have them with my first daughter, but someone gave them to me as a gift for my second. Some people might say iPhone, but I'm going to go with you on fake-shoe-baby-tights as best invention of the oughts.

  8. Christine

    I a;ways love the baby stockings with built-in "shoes"! Also, I definitely need to do the "not yelling" thing next Lent. That is one of the best Lenten ideas I've heard yet for moms! I enjoyed the HP meme 🙂

  9. Amy Caroline

    I have had to switch up my Lenten scrafices. I was trying to think about one to replace it and I think I found it! The yelling one. I have been working on that for awhile now, but let it slip. This will be a great way to focus on it.

    I have rose headbands I try and get my younger girls to wear every year. This year the three year old pulled hers off in mass and then the two year old boy grabbed it and put it on. This made the young people behind us laugh and laugh. Sigh. it looked good on him though.

  10. Kris

    I'm so with you on the daily prayer. So bad at it, but really, really need to do it. I gave up yelling one year for Lent and had the same experience. I didn't do it this year, but I should definitely do it again. this year, because I really need to get back to healthier eating, I gave up my two weaknesses – chips and dessert. I have had no chips at all – even on Sunday, I just don't want the taste in my mouth now that I've conquered the desire! I have had a treat here and there on a Sunday, and last night we went all out. My MIL had given us some $$ for Brusters (a local ice cream place) at Valentine's Day and we hadn't used it. So we all got a treat.

  11. Anonymous

    Purple is my favorite color, so I have a lot of purple things- having liturgically appropriate clothes has been fun, but never heard of Laetare Sunday. Fail.
    Totally want to do a raspberry cake for next Laetare Sunday! Awesome idea!
    Finally, ADORABLE ATTACK from baby Lulu!

  12. Hannah Irene

    Thank you so much for sharing this post, it was so encouraging! I'm going through many transitions in my life this year and this Lent has been HARD. I have been feeling like a failure in the fasting and penance department. Your post encouraged me to keep on trying and not be discouraged, I'm not the only one struggling. So thank you and God bless.

  13. Anonymous

    Oh, Lent. I'm glad its not over, because darn, I've got work to do! But-do you ever feel like God gives you a Lent, whether you like it or not? Maybe He just knows me that well and figures I'm not going to do any sort of good mortification on my own. We just finished a stomach bug that lingered for three weeks. I'd better ramp it up or we'll all come down with rickets or something! 🙂

    And… that baby! So, so cute!!
    Anne McD

  14. Christine

    I knew about the 3rd Sunday of Advent being pink instead of purple but I had no idea why or that there was an equivalent in Lent! Thank you!

  15. Son Mom

    Love the chubby baby legs!

    I gave up yelling one year and it was great — and some of the changes actually stuck permanently. NOT that I stopped yelling forever, but I got better at thinking before speaking (which was a miracle, actually).

    I am by nature a Mary, not a Martha, but I often think that in my life as a SAHM I would do a better job if there was more Martha in my nature 🙂 I have been pretty good about my daily prayer lately, but I do a lot of praying for the grace to be more hard-working, LOL!

  16. Nancy Bandzuch

    thank you for this great reminder that it is time (and a great opportunity) to start Lent over! Yay for second chances! I have been working on craving out more quiet time for prayer and reflection early in the morning, before the kids get up…but it is hard for this pregnant girl to get out of bed! After reading this, however, I am refueled and ready to try again!

  17. Mrs. Green Acres

    Two years later, but we also loved Foyle's War!

    Another couple suggestions in the same vein that we enjoy, once Lent 2016 is over:
    – Father Brown

    – X Company – 1st Season is on Canadian Netflix. Not sure if it is available in the states, but it's sooooooooooo good. Some episodes are extremely difficult to watch (hello spies during WWII occupied France) but it's currently my one exception to happy, fluffy stuff.


  1. A Week Of Feasts and the Wearin' o' the Pink - Catholic All Year - […] Lent is Hard to Do and Other Earth Shattering Insights for Laetare Sunday […]

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