Last week at Mass you may have noticed something different about the vestments that they clergy wore at Mass. If you were at a parish that had the resources (and a priest willing to do it) you would have witnessed one of the most rare of approved liturgical colors in use. Along with black, it is an optional color for use and not mandated. Unlike blue, it has a true liturgical function. The color that you may have witnessed is rose. (Notice I said rose, not pink – though I will admit that if our vestments were used as a color test for our pre-schoolers, every last one of them would say “PINK!”)
The color is supposed to be a pale or light purple. During lent and advent seasons the official color for use is violet or purple. Purple represents sorrow, repentance, Penance, and mourning. We wait in anticipation of Christ’s coming either in the incarnation or the resurrection. However on the third Sunday (Gaudete Sunday) of advent and in the middle of lent (Laetare Sunday) we change to rose. Both of these words can be translated as “Rejoice” in Latin and are the first words of the Mass that you would hear if Mass were said in Latin and the introit sung.
We do in fact rejoice. Our time of waiting and longing are half over. Christ is on the way. Promises made to us are going to be fulfilled. We cannot help but to let a bit of joy in during this season of penance. So do not go all out and throw off the purple and jump right to white but put on rose, the joy of the promise so pressing out through the longing of the season that for one day it bleaches it to rose, the color of subdue joy.