Liturgical colors for smart people (not dummies)

For many weeks, your priests have been in green vestments, but that all changes this weekend. With the Season of Advent, we notice our church sanctuary (and our Advent Apps!) awash in purple. MyParish App even offers a dressed-up background screen in Advent purple.  That is because the colors change for the new Liturgical Season which begins the first Sunday of Advent–the same day the Church begins its brand new calendar year. The calendar and the colors work together. If you get a digital liturgical calendar or see one included in one of your Catholic apps, colors are always noted.

Let’s wander over to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s web site and watch how the Church’s liturgical colors “give effective expression…to the specific character of the mysteries of faith being celebrated and to a sense of Christian life’s passage through the course of the liturgical year.”(GIRM #345)

The liturgical color for Advent is purple, just like Lent—as both are seasons that prepare us for the two great feast days.  Advent (like Lent) includes an element of penance in the sense of preparing, quieting and disciplining our hearts for the full joy of Christmas. This penitential dimension is expressed through the color purple, but also through the restrained manner of decorating the church and altar. (GIRM n. 305 and n. 313) […]

The third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete” Sunday (coming from the first word of the Latin Entrance Antiphon for this day, meaning “Rejoice”) and the liturgical color may be rose instead of purple. This is the Church’s way of further heightening our expectation as we draw ever nearer the Solemnity of Christmas.[…]

The normal liturgical color for Christmas  and Easter is white [symbolizing victory and joy], but […] On more solemn days, festive, that is, more precious, sacred vestments may be used even if not of the color of the day. The colors gold or silver may be worn on more solemn occasions in the Dioceses of the United States of America. […] These liturgical colors draw the parallel between the liturgical Times of Christmas and Easter, the two most important Times around which the Church Year turns.[…]

The Sundays and weeks of Ordinary Time [wherin green is worn], take us through the life of Christ. This is the time of conversion. This is living the life of Christ. Ordinary Time is a time for growth and maturation, a time in which the mystery of Christ is called to penetrate ever more deeply into history until all things are finally caught up in Christ. The goal, toward which all of history is directed, is represented by the final Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

…which we just celebrated.

Learn more about liturgical colors here (a simple outline) because there really is much more going on during the year as the Church weaves colors in and out.

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Categories: Blog for Catholic Apptitude

Author:Jennifer Kane

Content Evangelist, Jennifer Kane, is a secular Carmelite (OCDS), wife, mother, grandmother who worked for more than 30 years in marketing/communications which included 20 years in radio broadcasting including news director. She holds degrees in Journalism/Communication (BA) and English (MA) from St. Bonaventure University. In 2016 she authored the Vatican application for minor basilica status for The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Olean, New York. Pope Francis granted that title in 2017. Research on the basilica formed the basis of her history book, A Place Set Apart. She previously authored the book, A Worthy and Capable Clergyman, the second part of the history book in a slightly different format. She is founder and editor of the website,, the #1 English language website cataloging/reviewing Catholic apps for mobile devices.

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