Today is the third Sunday of Advent - also known as Gaudete Sunday. It is named after the first word of today's Intoit prayer: Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete: modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus prope est. (Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near. Philippians 4:4-5).
Today is one of two days in the year where the color of the vestments used at Mass may be Rose colored. Note I said rose and not pink. The idea of using Rose vestments is to show on this Sunday the excitement we feel in our hearts at the coming of the Lord. As it says in the words of the Introit, we Rejoice in the Lord always. Rose is a color between the Advent color of purple (penance and waiting) and the Christmas color of white.. a sign that our waiting is almost at an end. We know the Lord is coming.
As the color of the candles on our Advent wreath reflect the liturgical colors of the season, we light the rose colored candle today. Some people mistakenly light the rose colored candle on the last Sunday of Advent... now you are in the know and can correct such Liturgical faux pas. :)
Like many of you, I have been busy writing out and sending Christmas cards. I enjoy this practice, except for the high cost of stamps. I look forward to sending and receiving cards and the small notes and letters that sometimes accompany them. They also make for great decorations!
I've noticed a trend though among people I have exchanged cards with in the past. I try to be very sensitive to the beliefs of my family and friends. I wish my Jewish friends a Happy Hanukkah (even though I am not Jewish), send out Religious Cards to my friends and family who are practicing Christians, and have the secular "holiday" cards for those who are not "religious", but still enjoy a secular version of the holiday season. After all, my mind set is not to use this holiday to push my beliefs down people's throats -- that would be counter productive.. but to join them in a sense of joy and celebration.
This sentiment has not been reciprocated.
Every year, people still insist on writing within cards or in Facebook messages: "Merry Xmas!". I do not celebrate "Xmas".. I celebrate Christmas. I can't stand this abbreviation. Though it may have started out as a Christian abbreviation for Christmas, using the Greek letter X to represent the first letter in Christ's name (in the old Greek spelling), it has now been used to take Christ out of Christmas, and make it purely a commercial and secular holiday.
My friends know how I feel, and yet they still can't bring themselves to wish me, a practicing Catholic, a Merry CHRISTmas. Now, when I see "Xmas" written somewhere, I have taken to putting a "P" on top of the "X"... to make the Greek symbol of Christ's name known as the "chi-rho".
Oh well... I'm still Rejoicing today.. still writing CHRISTmas cards and trying to gear up for the baking that I will soon be doing. :)