Every Sunday in Liturgy of the Hours during Lent we read a significant reminder that although Lent is a time of penance, nevertheless Sunday remains a day of Joy. The Sundays of Lent are not numbered among the forty days of Lent. Between Ash Wednesday are 46 days. The extra six days are the Sundays of Lent. And of these days the following Instrustion given in the Liturgy of the Hours:
Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep; for today is holy to the our Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength! (Nehemiah 8:9-10)
If one has abstained from things for Lent it is possible to set it aside on Sundays in Lent. It is true that some prefer to maintain their discipline since an on-again, off-again abstinence is sometimes harder. Yet still the freedom of “refraining from the abstaining” is possible! Nothing, even the Lenten season can eclipse the joy of the resurrection that is meant to permeate every Sunday.
Hence, a practice to begin in Lent and continue throughout the year is to set Sunday aside not only as a day for worship but also as a day of special joy in the Lord. The day should be marked out for special celebration with family and friends, for the Lord is truly risen.
The Psalms speak of a joy that leads the faithful enter into a kind of joyful dance with and before the God who loves them, the Bride which is Church in a kind of Dance with her Groom, the Lord:
You turned my mourning into dancing; you have removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:11
Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp. For the LORD takes delight in his people.… (Psalm 149:3-5)
Jeremiah too speaks of the dance that comes to the Virgin Bride, Israel after her purification:
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness…O Virgin Israel. Again you will go out to dance with the joyful. (Jer 31:4ff)
So we do well to enter the dance and Lenten Sundays, according to the instruction in the Liturgy of the Hours, are no exceptions
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in “Swing Time” 1936