Pastor's Corner 121513

posted Dec 23, 2013, 10:51 AM by Music Director

Continuing our look at the symbols of Advent, we now turn our attention to the color chosen for the liturgical celebrations of this great season of anticipation.  

            As you know, each season of the liturgical year is assigned a specific color.  Green, which symbolizes hope, is for Ordinary Time, the weeks between Christmas and Lent and Pentecost and Advent.  White, symbolizing joy, is for the seasons of Christmas, which begins on Christmas Eve and ends on the feast of the Baptism of Jesus; and Easter, which begins at sundown the evening before (the Easter Vigil) and stretches through the following 7 weeks. White is also used to celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, and Holy Orders; funerals; and the feast days of non-martyred saints.  (For extra-special festivity, white can be replaced with gold, particularly on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.) Red, the color of blood and a primary color of fire, is assigned to Good Friday, memorials

of apostles and martyrs, and celebrations of the Holy Spirit, including Pentecost Sunday and the sacrament of Confirmation. Violet, which symbolizes penance, is the color for Lent, while purple is for Advent.  

            There is often confusion regarding the colors for Advent and Lent, as purple and violet are frequently but mistakenly used interchangeably. Because of its association with royalty, purple, the darker, bluer shade was used by the ancient Roman church to celebrate the return of Christ as King, which is the theme of the Advent season.  Since the dye used to create it was very expensive, purple was reserved for royal garments.  (Only the Emperor or his delegate could lawfully wear purple clothing.)  Violet, decidedly lighter and redder, was used to symbolize forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God and His people, one of the primary themes of Lent. See the difference?

            That Jesus is, in a sense, royalty is born out in the Scriptures. In the Gospel according to Matthew, for example, the Magi come from the East searching for the "newborn king of the Jews" (Mt 2:2).  He is often referred to as "Son of David," having been born in the ancestral line of ancient Israel's greatest king (Mk 10:47). Jesus was hailed as king when He entered Jerusalem (Lk 19:38; Jn 12:15).  During His passion some soldiers threw a purple cloak over His shoulders in mock tribute of the supposed "king of the Jews."  (Mk 15:17; Jn 19:2, 5).  Jesus also promised to come back to earth at the end of time to judge the living and the dead; but His return would be as King not just of Israel but all creation (Mt 25).  On the last Sunday of Ordinary Time, we even proclaim this belief in the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, the King.  In Advent, then, the Church expresses its desire to wait patiently for the return of Christ our King, using royal purple vestments as one of our symbols of this holy season.  Because of the improper interchanging of purple and violet, some parishes began using shades of blue during Advent to set it apart from Lent.  Of course, this is not liturgically precise, but the point is well taken.  

            On the 3rd Sunday of Advent, called "Gaudete Sunday" (from the Latin word for "rejoice") a soft pink hue called "rose" can be used in place of purple to mark the halfway point of this season of joyful preparation and expectation.  (The same is true on the 4th Sunday of Lent, which is called "Latare" Sunday.)  

            As we prepare to celebrate the first coming of our Savior, let us likewise prepare for His return by becoming Christians who more and more color the world with the joy and hope of our faith, which is rooted in and expressed by generous acts of love!



In His Love,

Fr. Mike