Gaudete! “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! Indeed, the Lord is near” (Phil 4:4-5).
The Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday from the Entrance Antiphon listed in the Roman Missal. The English translation actually loses some of the impact due to the fact that the original Latin is more of a command for us to actually do rejoicing!
It’s not just a casual statement. The Fourth Sunday of Lent is “Laetare” which is also “rejoice.” These two Sundays are reminders that despite the low key and “darkness” of this season, we need to take time to celebrate and rejoice. In Advent we are reminded that the Lord’s arrival brings us true joy; “Gaudete!”
The recommended vestment color for these, the Third Sunday of Advent Masses, has always been rose color. Unfortunately, some of us say the color is “pink.” It’s not pink! The church color for joy is rose.
Sadly, most of the churches I’ve been assigned to over the years either had no rose-colored vestments or, if they did have a rose vestment, it was rather pathetic looking. It was Archbishop Dolan who commented once that he thought he looked like a bottle of Pepto-Bismol in his rose vestment.
I was reminded in my early years of priesthood that “real men don’t wear pink.” Fashion consultants over the years have enthusiastically changed that mantra. The color is a reminder that, as Christians, we can’t wallow in the negative. Our lives have changed.
With a new set of vestments at Holy Angels Parish, West Bend, this year, I’ll be wearing a decent rose-colored vestment. I’m grateful.
Sadly, we live in a time of diminished joy. Oftentimes we lose the sense of direction which identifies us as travelers through this world. Where does that sense of joy originate and what exactly do we do with it once it’s identified?
Amid the business of shopping, house cleaning, decorating and card-sending we find glimpses of happiness, but where’s the joy? Joy is a step beyond and much deeper. It stems from the fact that we understand and know God has visited his people, is still here, and that Christ will come again. There’s the true joy.
We’re moving toward God and that fulfillment is found in the life that’s waiting for us when this life is over. That makes us grounded in “real Advent.” When we realize that, our lives, as well as our day-to-day tasks, change considerably.
It’s a deep-seated attitude change. Joy is the characteristic of true Christians. St. Teresa of Avila wrote, “Lord, deliver us from sullen saints.” True joy removes any traces of sullenness from the life of a believer.
Frequently, Advent finds us on “auto-pilot” struggling to do all those pre-Christmas tasks. The focus is on what we need to do and how we should do it to get through this hectic time. Where there’s joy, the focus is on God and what God has done for us.
With that change of attitude, our lives flow from God and those day-to-day tasks take on new meaning. The work gets done but not always. Even if it’s not all done, some is done. What’s done is always enough. God’s joy is shared.
This is a great season for nurturing true joy — joy is found in the practice of love, care, generosity and compassion. Those are the things that define this time of year. If you find your “joy gauge” approaching the empty mark, you certainly don’t need to wear the color rose. Wearing the mantle of kindness will certainly fill you with joy. That’s where God can be found.