Friday, March 20, 2009

What’s with the pink vestments?

Ask Father!

You may remember from Advent, the Church uses “pink” (technically, rose-colored) vestments at the half-way point during the great penitential seasons. Since this coming Sunday (the Fourth Sunday of Lent) is pretty much the half-way point of Lent, we are allowed to use rose-colored vestments for the celebration of holy Mass.

There are other signs of joy on this Sunday as well, for instance: it’s called (after the first word of the official Latin entrance antiphon) Laetare Sunday, from Latin “laetare”: “rejoice.” Solo pieces may be played on the organ (if we had an organist), and flowers may be placed on the altar. It is also customary to relax (a little bit) our Lenten penance and maybe indulge in a little dessert or snack or recreation.

You may remember, too, that some scholars think this “rose” color is the result of lightening the shade of the purple dye. But there’s another explanation that makes sense especially for this particular Sunday. Traditionally, the Pope blesses the Golden Rose on this day (see illustration above), the Golden Rose being a special mark of affection and honor for a Catholic ruler who has performed notable works of charity. And so, this Sunday is also called “Rose Sunday” (hence the rose vestments?).

Also, this Sunday is called “Mothering Sunday” because offerings were sent to the “mother church” of the diocese, i.e. the bishop’s cathedral. If you wish to contribute to our “Mother Church” (an excellent idea, I might add), go to, the site of the Military Archdiocese, for the details.

(The "Ask Father!" series is offered through the kindness of Father Charles Johnson, CHC, USNR, currently deployed aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt.)

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