The Subdued Joy of Gaudete Sunday

Photos by OC-Travel
Gaudete in Domino!  Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, is upon us.  Also known as "Rejoice" Sunday, this word is taken from the opening words of the Introit [my translation]: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.  Let your moderation be known to all men.  The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety, but in every prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.  Lord, Thou hast blest Thy land; Thou has turned away the captivity of Jacob."

The Sunday Mass reminds us that while we are rejoicing for "the Lord is near," there are still many who do not know the One Who should stand in the midst of them.  The unbelievers must find a guiding beacon in the dim of their journey.  Christ is the shining light of the world, the goal of our earthly journey.  Despite all things, real joy is found only in Christ.  The Mass instructs us that only Christ can" bring light to the darkness of our minds" (Collect).  That only He can bless, deliver and forgive (Offertory).  Lastly, that only He can "say to the faint-hearted, 'Take courage'" (Communion Verse).

The tradition of the priest vested in rose-colored (rosacea) vestments in place of violet on this day is a much lauded Roman custom for the Third Sunday of Advent (Mid-Advent) as well as on the Fourth Sunday of Lent (mid-Lent).  This is to signify the mood of subdued joy, in this case, with Christmas just around the corner.  It is pure joy watching this tradition make a comeback after it was phased out in the wake of sixties modernizing.  Why is this custom important?  Because the liturgy mirrors the seasons and it instructs us in the Faith.  After all, we are the creative minority.  The rose color is a glimmering hope in the victory won by Christ, visible after the strife, seen with the rose-coloured dawn.  God is near and goes along with us on the path of life with Christ, Whose coming we will celebrate on Christmas Eve -- precisely the reason we are invited to spiritual joy. 

These photos were taken of the heritage antipendium altar frontal at the church of St. Agnes in St. Paul, Minnesota.  To see this brought back fond memories of my childhood, when we children and adults looked forward each year to seeing this twice.  It is nice to see this worthy custom preserved, along with the altar decorated with pink flowers.  While some are quick to point out the color is properly referred to as "rose," it is also at the same time pink.

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