Recently, a parishioner said to me: "I’m not comfortable with the vestments for Mass being purple during these days of Advent. Purple to me speaks of penance and reconciliation, while Advent speaks of repentance, anticipation and hope. "Perhaps that is why the Church interrupts both the Advent and Lenten journeys mid-way through the seasons to celebrate with rose colored vestments, emphasizing the joy and anticipation of the season looking forward to the birth of Christ at Christmas while still seeing Advent as an opportune time for repentance. Many parishes do not own a set of rose colored vestments, since they are worn only those two times during the entire year. Today is Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday. The name of today, Gaudete Sunday, is taken from the opening antiphon "rejoice, I say it again, rejoice in the Lord, the Lord is near." And this time is carried over into the responsorial psalm "cry out with joy and gladness for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel."
Once again this year we are celebrating "the light is on for you" with the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation on the Tuesdays of Advent. This week, on Tuesday, December 18th at 7:00 PM we will have a parish wide Penance service, offering the opportunity to go to confession in true anticipation of the birth of the Lord. A brief pamphlet has been published titled "Watch for the Lord" and it contains advent reflections by Pope Francis, Mother Teresa and Father Henri Nouwen. Pope Francis, writing for this Third Sunday of Advent, quotes John in today’s Gospel when John asks "What shall we do?" The question is raised by three groups of people, the crowd in general, the publicans and then some soldiers. They want to know what must be done to implement the conversion that John is preaching. John answers that it is necessary to repent, to change direction and take the path of justice, solidarity and sobriety. John says these are the essential values of a fully human and genuinely Christian life, and not much has changed over the past 1900 years.
Fr John R. Mulvehill