The Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday, meaning “Rejoice”, taken from the Entrance Antiphon of that day: “Rejoice in the Lord, always” (Phil 4:4-5). On this Sunday we light the rose candle of the Advent wreath, and the same colour is used in Liturgical vestments.

True joy is a uniquely Christian quality because, amidst all messiness of life, we are called not to be conquered by fear (Lk 21:28). Perhaps the joy of Christmas is frequently superficially associated with holidays and presents. However, for the Christian, real joy is found in the fact that we are loved and desired by God himself. As Pope Francis wrote in Evangelii Gaudium (par. 1):

The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.

This Sunday also reminds us of the origins of Advent, which was structured very similarly to Lent. In fact, during Lent there is also a Sunday similar to the Gaudete Sunday, called Laetare Sunday, another word that means joy. Just like the Third Sunday of Advent, Laetare Sunday marks we are halfway through Lent. Just like the Third Sunday of Advent, on Laetare Sunday rose liturgical colours may be used. Somehow, it is like a pause from using violet, which is associated with a time of preparation, penitence and sacrifice.

One may ask: how come we use rose colour during liturgical celebrations and the pink candle of the wreath is lit? As a colour, rose symbolises both joy and anticipation for the feast that soon will be celebrated.

In addition, in older times, on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the Pope used to bless a gold ornament in the form of a rose, known as Rosa d’Oro (a gold rose). This ornament was given as a sign of honour and reverence. Originally, this ornament was given to leaders, but as from the pontificate of Paul VI, it was given to Mariam places of veneration. In fact, Pope Benedict gifted the ninth golden roses to Our Lady of Pinu, during his visit in Malta in 2010.

Pause and Reflect

  • During this Advent, how am I going preparing myself to be able to accept Jesus Christ in my life?
  • Is there joy in my heart, that same the real happiness that is gushing from a personal encounter with Christ?