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What do the different liturgical colors mean?

Have you ever wondered why priests wear certain colors for each liturgical season? Find out here.

We associate different colors with different holidays. For instance, Christmas colors are red and green, while Halloween colors are black and orange.

Likewise, the Church uses colors to symbolize particular liturgical seasons. The four main colors are green, violet, red, and white, but priests also wear rose on the Third Sunday of Advent and the Fourth Sunday of Lent and black for funeral Masses.

We are now in Ordinary Time, so priests are wearing green. Priests wear green for much of the year; this color represents hope and perseverance, which we ought to practice all year round.

Clergy wear purple during Advent and Lent. This color symbolizes the virtues we practice during these two important seasons: penance, waiting, and mourning.

During the Christmas and Easter Seasons, priests wear white, the color for joy and purity. White also represents the Resurrection. This color’s symbolism is also why brides wear white on their wedding day: to represent their purity and joy.

Red is worn on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Pentecost. Red is the color for Christ’s Passion and for martyrdom. On Pentecost Sunday, the Apostles went out into the world to proclaim the Good News, and most of them were martyred for their faith, which is one of the reasons why clergy wear red that day. Red also symbolizes the fire of the Holy Spirit for Pentecost and the Sacrament of Confirmation.

On the Third Sunday of Advent and on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, priests wear a shade of pink called rose, representing joy and hope, as we anticipate the approach of Christmas and Easter. For funerals, the priest often wears black to represent death and mourning—and to remind the congregation to pray for the soul of the person who has died.

Each liturgical color has significant meaning and helps us set our minds on the season we are currently in. During this Ordinary Time, we should follow the theme of this season and listen for the messages of hope and perseverance in the daily readings.

A helpful way to keep up with the liturgical seasons and increase your devotion through the Daily Readings is by using a Daily Roman Missal, which includes the readings for Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, Advent, and even Saints’ feast days! Get your own here!

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