Skip to comments.Catholic Liturgy - Rose-Colored Vestments on Gaudete Sunday
Posted on 12/08/2004 6:04:28 AM PST by NYer
ROME, DEC. 7, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.
Q: I have always observed that the priest wore a rose or pink vestment on Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent. Last year, around this time, our pastor informed us that such a practice was abandoned and, as such, there were no longer any pink vestments nor pink candles during Advent (and that there was a move away from considering Advent a penitential season). But, lo and behold, a visiting priest wore them on the following Sunday, and, when asked, insisted that the practice was never changed. -- RL, Frederick, Maryland
A: Our reader from Maryland (and others) have asked questions regarding the use of rose-colored vestments on Gaudete and Laetare Sundays. The essential norms dealing with the use of liturgical colors are found in the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 346.
"As to the color of sacred vestments, the traditional usage is to be retained: namely,
"a. White is used in the Offices and Masses during the Easter and Christmas seasons; also on celebrations of the Lord other than of his Passion, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Holy Angels, and of Saints who were not Martyrs; on the Solemnities of All Saints (1 November) and of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist (24 June); and on the Feasts of Saint John the Evangelist (27 December), of the Chair of Saint Peter (22 February), and of the Conversion of Saint Paul (25 January).
"b. Red is used on Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion and on Good Friday, on Pentecost Sunday, on celebrations of the Lord's Passion, on the feasts of the Apostles and Evangelists, and on celebrations of Martyr Saints.
"c. Green is used in the Offices and Masses of Ordinary Time.
"d. Violet or purple is used in Advent and of Lent. It may also be worn in Offices and Masses for the Dead (cf. below).
"e. Besides violet, white or black vestments may be worn at funeral services and at other Offices and Masses for the Dead in the Dioceses of the United States of America.
"f. Rose may be used, where it is the practice, on Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent).
"g. On more solemn days, sacred vestments may be used that are festive, that is, more precious, even if not of the color of the day.
"h. Gold or silver colored vestments may be worn on more solemn occasions in the dioceses of the United States of America."
To this we may add the observation of the instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum," Nos. 121 and 127.
[121.] "The purpose of a variety of color of the sacred vestments is to give effective expression even outwardly to the specific character of the mysteries of faith being celebrated and to a sense of Christian life's passage through the course of the liturgical year." On the other hand, the variety of offices in the celebration of the Eucharist is shown outwardly by the diversity of sacred vestments. In fact, these "sacred vestments should also contribute to the beauty of the sacred action itself."
[127.] "A special faculty is given in the liturgical books for using sacred vestments that are festive or more noble on more solemn occasions, even if they are not of the color of the day. However, this faculty, which is specifically intended in reference to vestments made many years ago, with a view to preserving the Church's patrimony, is improperly extended to innovations by which forms and colors are adopted according to the inclination of private individuals, with disregard for traditional practice, while the real sense of this norm is lost to the detriment of the tradition. On the occasion of a feastday, sacred vestments of a gold or silver color can be substituted as appropriate for others of various colors, but not for purple or black."
From all this it is clear that the custom of using rose-colored vestments on Gaudete and Laetare Sundays is to be maintained whenever possible.
If a parish lacks rose vestments then the usual violet is used.
The names Gaudete and Laetare comes from the traditional entrance antiphon, or introit, sung at these Masses.
Both terms may be broadly translated as "rejoice" or "delight" and refer to the importance of the theme of Christian joy, even in the midst of a penitential season, which is reflected in the formulas and readings of both these Masses.
With respect to liturgical colors, a bishops' conference, above all in mission territories, may seek the Holy See's approval to adopt other colors if the symbolism of the traditional colors would be misunderstood.
In some Asian countries, for example, white is the traditional color of mourning and does not have the festive connotations prevalent in Western society. In such cases the bishops may propose the traditional festive colors of the culture.
While blue is not an official liturgical color, some countries, such as Spain, and some Marian shrines have the privilege of using blue-colored vestments on Marian feasts such as the Immaculate Conception. These are vestments made of blue-colored fabric and not just white or silver vestments with blue trimmings or blue Marian motifs, which may be used everywhere.
Historically it appears that all sacred vestments were white until about the seventh century. Around the time of Pope Innocent III (died 1216) we had four principal colors (red, white, black and green) and three secondary colors (yellow, rose and purple). But a common criterion for the use of the various colors is not found until around 1550, when the present usage became standard.
As "Redemptionis Sacramentum," No. 121, says above, the purpose of using different colors is to express the specific character of the various mysteries. The use of the diverse colors is both pedagogical and symbolic of the various liturgical feasts and seasons.
Thus, white, the symbol of light and purity, and gold and silver are festive colors. Red expresses both the fire of the Holy Spirit and the blood of the Passion and of martyrdom. Green is the symbolic color of hope and serenity.
Violet, recalling somberness and penance, has also largely replaced black for funerals although this latter color may still be used. Rose, which has never enjoyed frequent use, serves as a reminder, by using an unusual color, that we are halfway through a penitential season.
This had always been my understanding until last December, when I walked into church for the Christmas Vigil mass and saw our pastor vested in red . Apparently, no one else noticed. As is often the case in the more liberal dioceses, certain priests manage to get their way by 'interpreting' church documents. In this situation, he must have applied option 'g'.
"On more solemn days, sacred vestments may be used that are festive, that is, more precious, even if not of the color of the day."
That evening, I watched the masses televised from Washington DC and the Vatican. All the priests were vested in white. /sigh/
That is the problem of offering so many options. (I assume if there is an option 'g', there are also options a,b,c,d,e, and f.) When there are so many allowable exceptions to the rule, the rule becomes meaningless.
Apparently, no one else noticed. As is often the case in the more liberal dioceses.
I find it difficult to be too hard on the average Catholic in the pew, with so many exceptions allowed, and so many changes to the exceptions all the time, it is next too impossible to keep up with what is or isn't allowed in the NO. But, perhaps that is the objective.
Why do a number of churches use blue during advent claiming it is an official liturgical color for advent?
Forgive my ignorance, but isn't Advent supposed to be a penitential season, like Lent?
Hence, Violet is used. Our pastor still uses pink as well.
Sorry, my eye bumped over this part...
Well you caught me off guard with that question so I did some investigating. And, yes indeed, Advent is a penitential season, the big difference being that it is a joyful penance.
"Advent is really a lot like Lent. Both are roughly month-long seasons of preparation for a joyful holiday. In fact, starting in about the sixth century, Advent and Lent used the same liturgies, Mass for Mass, in the Latin Rite. During both seasons, you would see the purple vestments of mourning, symbolism echoed today by the colored candles of the Advent wreath. In the reign of Innocent III (1198-1216) the vestments of Advent were black. Long after that, pictures and statues were covered, the organ was silenced, and flowers were banned from the churches, just as during Lent. Even in the Ambrosian and Mozarabic rites, where there was no special Advent liturgy, there was still a requirement to fast during the season before the Nativity. It was designed to remind us of the need to repent in preparation for a holy season."
Still good advice today! Thanks for your answer.
Your question is a very important one. Blue is NOT an approved liturgical color.....period. What is contained in the above article about "Marian shrines", etc. is rather misleading.....though it is sometimes used for these very rare and truly exceptional cases.
The use of the color Blue diring Advent (and also Lent)is a symbol of dissent. It is not merely that it is wrong for the season, it is not approved for use period. There is no mere mistake about this - ir is done very purposefully.
There is another reasons for the use of the color blue; its is a masonic ritual/liturgical color. This makes it an even more serious symbol of dissent. It clearly shows what side of the fence the parish priest is on.
But regardless of the exact reason for using blue, do not be fooled into thinking that father is just merely making a mistake.........he knows exactly what he is doing.
Like when he wears a stole OVER the chasuable. It is also a sign of dissent.
My understanding is that its use is common in the Mozarabic Rite for Feasts of Our Lady, and that this was extended to certain Latin Rite Spanish-derived areas like Mexico. But it certainly isn't in the U.S.
The use of the color Blue diring Advent (and also Lent)is a symbol of dissent.
Yep. I love how these people are all for protecting other people's traditions, but when it comes to the traditional Latin-Rite violet and rose Advent..no, we can't do THAT.
Interesting, thanks for the history. Liturgists IMHO seem not to be interested in preserving old Rites/Uses intact, but rather using them as justification for their own experimentalism.
Is anyone out there using the Sarum Use still?
You are correct about the past historical usage of the color - no argument there! But, as you hinted at, blue is not being used as any legitimate throwback to a particular origen.
The phoney excuse of a primitive origen is being used as a cover for dissent.....to confound any legitimate argument of a layman, by dissident clergy. As to the Sarum rite......I know what you refer to, and I dont think it is actually in any regular use.
I've visited a western rite Orthodox church that uses a liturgy derived from Sarum, although I don't have any point of reference to gauge how much their service deviated from the Sarum manuscripts. I was impressed. They carried out the service simply, without a lot of frills (e.g. the chanting was more functional than splendid), with a sense of strict respect for the holiness of the sacrifice. What really struck me was that the language and rubrics were intensely doctrinal, with a lot of emphasis on the Trinity. I came away thinking that if the Novus Ordo were similar, there'd be less room for dissent in the Church. Their doctrine was too clearly on display in the liturgy. You couldn't mouth the words while thinking to yourself that they must really mean the opposite.
Blue is not an approved liturgical color. They are doing their own thing and need to be reported.
We welcome the third candle of Advent 2009.