Why Rose Vestments?

12-13-2020Pastor's Letter

The use of rose vestments during the sacred liturgy of the third Sunday of Advent has been a part of the Church’s tradition for many centuries and is a tradition we must hold onto. Rose gives us joy and a promise of hope; our world is in need of both. The Rose color, which is only used twice in the whole liturgical year, is traditionally associated with a sense of joy amidst a season of penance. On both Sundays (Gaudete in Advent and Laetare in Lent), rose is worn to remind us that the season of preparation is coming to a close and the great feast is swiftly approaching.

Even the Entrance Antiphon that is sung at the beginning of Mass on Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent) speaks of the joy we must possess: it reads: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near! When we see rose at Mass we are called to rejoice; the preparations are nearly complete and Christmastide is almost here!

Joy is not always an easy trait to acquire. Even faithful Christians can be tempted to live life without an ounce of joy. It is like living always in Advent, but never experiencing the joy of Christmas. (or as Mr. Tumnus describes Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, it is “always Winter, but never Christmas”).

Additionally, another explanation behind the color of the rose vestments can possible be found in nature. Besides rose being a color of joy, it is also one of the last colors seen before the sun rises.

If you were to get up early and witness the sunrise, the sky would be marked with a beautiful hue of rose and you would know that the sun is not far behind. So too with Gaudete Sunday. On this third Sunday of Advent the Church expresses her joy that the Sun of Justice will be born; in fact, His birth is almost here! The Church cannot contain her joy at the coming of her Savior, for she knows that He will bring victory over sin and death.

This gives us great hope. In a world with such darkness, riots and many evil deeds, we know that God reigns victorious. As we eagerly await the coming of our Savior at Christmas, let us not forget the great victory He won for us on Easter Sunday. Darkness has been conquered. Death is no more. This Advent, let the light of Christ shatter your darkness and bring you a Gospel joy that endures.