Against the Odds, Gaudeamus

It’s Gaudete Sunday, the occasion on which we celebrate the near coming of the Christ child.  Yet today, the country grieves over 20 young lives lost. ”Gaudete” means, roughly, joy.  But the events in Newtown, CT on Friday make it seem absurd to light the rose candle this week.

Joy seems out of place.  Then again, so was He.  He had no business being born in a barn. Of a human.  With animals for company.

And this is our cause for joy, that he came, boldly, humbly, in the midst of darkness.  When we encounter the darkest grief, then, we look, and he is already there, being Joy where no joy can be found.

So we light the rose candle.  We welcome its gentle glow.  We rejoice that the Christ child chooses to be present amidst such rough and tumble human beings, such turpitude, such hollow grief.  Gaudeamus.  We rejoice.

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Jane Sloan


B. Jane Sloan is a writer and high school theology teacher from Atlanta, GA. In addition to blogging for Catholic Exchange, she has been published in Our Sunday Visitor, Notre Dame Magazine and the literary journal Omnibus. Jane graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2007 with a B.A. in theology and philosophy. In 2009, she graduated with an M. Ed. from Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education. In 2009 Jane made a 500-mile pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. She spent summer 2010 as an intern planting vegetables and baking bread at the Abbey of Regina Laudis OSB in Bethlehem, CT. In 2011 she was present among the millions at the beatification of Blessed John Paul II. She is currently working toward her M.A. in Theology. Follow her on Twitter @CE_SundayBrunch. Follow her other blog on all-natural eating at

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  • “Gaudete.” Nothing more or less than an imperative verb, telling us, “Rejoice!” We mourn the loss of those children, yet we can rejoice, since it is highly likely that those five- and six-year-olds had not yet reached the use of reason and thus went directly to Heaven. We mourn the fact that we have lost them, but simultaneously rejoice for what they now have, made possible because Christ was born in that barn, among those animals. He that became food for our souls spent his first night sleeping in a manger. Too many of us don’t even really understand what a manger is. Today, we call it a feed trough. The symbology is profound. Thus, “ponemus gaudere,” that is, we can rejoice, despite the tragedy. And, as you say, we light the rose candle.