The Meaning of Gaudete Sunday

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent when we light the pink candle on our Advent wreath, and many priests dress in rose-colored vestments for Mass. But Gaudete Sunday is about more than just a change in color. It is a time during the Advent season when we look with joy to the coming of the Lord and recognize His presence in our lives right now.

Monsignor James P. Shea, president of the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota stopped by Morning Air®  to discuss Gaudete Sunday and why we celebrate it.

“It’s part of the Church’s genius that, in the midst of a penitential, prayerful anticipation … the Church has the genius of providing for us something of a respite, but also feeding our hope,” he told Morning Air host John Harper.

“At the beginning of Advent we talked about that ancient hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel, which is both a lamentation and a consolation. The prophecies of Isaiah remind Israel that they are far from where they should be, far from their homeland, but that the Messiah is coming. So it’s a seed of hope, it’s a moment of joy, it’s a respite in the midst of prayerful preparation. Even though we live in a valley of tears, the Lord gives us the opportunity and the capacity to know joy. And so that is why we rejoice.”

You will notice in the readings at Mass today that rejoicing is the obvious theme. But take note of the language in the readings to see how we are to celebrate Gaudete Sunday.

“I love Gaudete the word,” said Msgr. Shea. “It’s a plural imperative. In other words, it’s a command, not an invitation. We’re told to rejoice. And that’s what we’re meant to do.”

Listen to the full conversation below:

Morning Air can be heard weekdays from 5:00-8:00 am CT on Relevant Radio and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.