This fourth Sunday of Lent is Laetare Sunday. Today, rose colored vestments can be worn in place of purple, and the altar can be decorated with flowers as on no other day in Lent. We are reminded that joy is perfectly compatible with sacrifice and even pain. As we get closer to Good Friday, we get closer to the commemoration of the Redemption when Our Savior conquered the power of Satan, sin, and death for us. The pouring out of love for mankind, which is the Passion, is coming, and the joy of Easter will soon be upon us.
Pope Paul VI said: “Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the occasions of pleasure, but finds great difficulty in giving birth to happiness. For happiness has its origins elsewhere: it is a spiritual thing. Money, comfort, hygiene, material security, etc., may often not be lacking, but nevertheless, despite these advantages, boredom, suffering, and sadness are frequently to be found supervening the lives of many people.” (Paul VI, Exhortation, Gaudete in Domino, 1, 9, April 1975).
Joy and happiness come from the heart—from the heart that knows it is loved by God and that, in turn, loves Him. This love bursts out to others—to family and to our brothers and sisters in our neighborhoods and all over the world. Not only do we sacrifice for spouses, children, and parents, but we are charitable to everyone.
The experience of joy and the happiness of giving is authentic if we allow ourselves to be purified by Our Lord. He does this through the Sacrament of Penance. Making good, complete Confessions enables us to truly love and to know great joy.