When the General Instruction of the Roman Missal considers the vestments worn by the priest-celebrants at Mass, it states, “As to the color of sacred vestments, the traditional usage is to be retained.… Rose may be used, where it is the practice, on Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent)” (GIRM, No. 346).
The rose candle in the Advent wreath is lighted on the Third Sunday of Advent, for it corresponds to the rose vestment that is the option for the day’s liturgical celebrations. The change reflects the joy expressed in the Entrance Antiphon for the day’s Mass, and serves as a special reminder of the joyful event that awaits us at the close of the Advent season.
The name Gaudete, which gives this Sunday its name, is taken from the Entrance Antiphon of the day’s Mass. The verse is from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and, in Latin, reads: “Gaudete in Domino semper; iterum dico, gaudete. Dominus enim prope est.” In English, the text commands us, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. For indeed, the Lord is near.”