The Third Sunday of Advent is known in the Church as Gaudete Sunday, taken from the first word of the Introit (Entrance Antiphon): Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Dominus enim prope est. (Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.) At this halfway point of Advent, a penitential season, we rejoice that we are nearing the joy of Christmas. The Collect (Opening Prayer) for Mass today reflects this same sense of anticipation and joy:
O God, who see how your people
faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,
enable us, we pray,
to attain the joys of so great a salvation
and to celebrate them always
with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
On Gaudete Sunday our focus shifts momentarily to the joy of the upcoming feast of Christmas. Amidst the penitential season of Advent, the color for Gaudete Sunday is rose, a lighter and brighter shade of the normally penitential color of violet. Rose is the liturgical color of joy, and so the rose candle of the Advent wreath and the priest’s rose vestments reflect the joy of Gaudete Sunday in anticipation of the joy of Christmas.
In the Collect for Gaudete Sunday, we first acknowledge that God sees us during our Advent preparation. This is a good reminder that God is ever-present to us in all aspects of our life; we are never without the company of God. Just as God is always present to us, we pray that we may always celebrate the joys of the salvation he enabled through the Nativity of Jesus.
As you continue your Advent preparations for Christmas this week, take a moment every day to stop and rejoice during what can be a hectic time. In all our preparations, we should not lose sight of what—or Whom—we are preparing for. On this Gaudete Sunday, the Church buoys our spirits and reminds us to rejoice always at so great a salvation that has been given to us.
God bless you,