Thursday, December 20, 2007

A memoir of Gaudete Sunday

Melancholicus went to hear Mass at his local parish last Sunday morning for the first time in yonks, since he wishes in the coming year to ingratiate himself with the local clergy with a view towards eventually setting up in the parish a Mass in what many people are now calling “the extraordinary form”, but which Melancholicus will persist in calling the Traditional Mass.

Last Sunday was the third Sunday of Advent — or Gaudete Sunday, as it is often known. This Sunday is one of only two days in the year in which the celebrant may wear rose vestments in place of the usual violet. Most regular attendees of the Novus Ordo Missae will probably never have seen rose vestments in use, as they seem to have fallen into complete desuetude since the liturgical changes of forty years ago, much like black vestments, which one almost never sees at contemporary funerals.

If one looks at the Advent wreath currently adorning the sanctuaries of Catholic churches, one will notice four coloured candles arranged in a circle around a white candle. Three of these coloured candles are violet, and one is of a rosy pink hue. The candles reflect the liturgical colour of the day on which they are first lit, and the rose/pink candle is lit on Gaudete Sunday. If he has them to hand, a priest celebrating Mass on this Sunday may wear vestments that match the colour of the candle.

Melancholicus’ local parish lacks a rose set, but he was interested to see that rather than resorting to violet, the celebrating priest (the PP, no less) turned himself out in the closest thing to rose that he had available, namely the red set. This is not, strictly speaking, liturgically permissable, but Melancholicus is inclined to give Father full marks for effort. Incidentally, red vestments were also worn in the parish on Gaudete Sunday in 2006, and that by a different priest. Obviously the instinct towards the return of rose is there, even if the clergy err by resorting to red because they can’t get the proper liturgical colour.

Since his days as a seminarist, Melancholicus has a few sets of vestments in different liturgical colours, but no rose set. He would like to be able to present a rose set to the parish, because he knows they would be used. Vestments of such a colour are difficult to come by, but if anyone reading this knows of a spare set knocking about somewhere... Melancholicus would be grateful.

As would the parish.

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