History and traditions of Gaudete Sunday
Today, Dec. 17, is Gaudete Sunday, when we shift our reflection from “the Lord is coming” to “the Lord is near.” Rejoice as you light the pink candle on your Advent wreath. You are more than half-way to Christmas!
This third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete” Sunday based on the first word of the Latin Entrance Antiphon for this day, meaning “Rejoice”, taken from Philippians 4:4,5: “Gaudete in Domino semper” (“Rejoice in the Lord always”).
Since Advent is a penitential season, the priest normally wears purple vestments, but on Gaudete Sunday, having passed the midpoint of Advent, the Church lightens the mood a little and the priest may wear rose vestments. This is the Church’s way of further heightening our expectation as we draw ever nearer the Solemnity of Christmas.
Providing us with encouragement to continue our spiritual preparation is also the reason that the third candle of the Advent wreath, which is lit on Gaudete Sunday, is traditionally rose-colored.
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops