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Why ROSE?

by Clyde Ericson Nolasco


It’s that time of the liturgical year again when priests don rose-coloured vestments.


This liturgical phenomenon only happens twice a year – Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent and Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent.



ROSE not Pink

Primarily both seasons of Advent and Lent use the color purple as their liturgical color. Altar linens and vestments are purple as they remind us that these seasons are about penance, prayer and preparation for great feasts that are to come: Christmas for Advent and Easter for Lent.


Though we can see the color pink used in the church, it is rose and not pink.


It's ROSE and not pink. It is a pigment from the madder root plant.


Technically, pink is not in the list of the colors used in the liturgy. It roots from the history of the availability of dyes. Though a basic combination of red and a white, pink was not widely available until the 17th century and wasn’t popularly used until the 19th and 20th centuries.


The Catholic church instead listed the color ROSE or the Latin word rosacea. This color is produced from extracting the madder plant’s root (rubia tintorum). It is an ancient natural pigment used for textile coloring.


Gaudete and Laetare

In Advent, the third Sunday is called Gaudete which comes from the introit (the opening verses of celebrations) based on Philippians 4:4,5: Gaudete in Domino semper or "rejoice in the Lord always." Likewise, Lent’s Laetare Sunday is also based on the introit of the day's celebration that is taken from Isaiah 66:10-11: “Rejoice, Jerusalem…”


Both Sundays, when the color rose is used, invite the faithful to relax from the strict penitential spirit of the color purple. Both Sundays are Sundays of joy as we reach the midpoint of the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent.


Rose reminds us to take a breather, a quick break or a temporary halt from our penitential observations. It is a glimpse of joy that is to come.


In a world stricken with sickness, wars and political strife, the color rose reminds us and encourages us to hope that perfect happiness through God will come.


Rose reminds us that a person with a happy heart can easily meet Jesus. As St. Philip Neri said, “A heart filled with joy is more easily made perfect than the one that is sad.”

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