Celebrating all things ‘pink’!

Disclaimer: I know, it's not pink today.
It is ROSE!

Yes, it is that time again. Third week of Advent means Gaudete Sunday, a day which takes its common name from the Latin word Gaudete ("Rejoice"), the first word of the entrance antiphon of this day's Mass:

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.

I am sure that my Latin class buddies will be able to translate this but just in case, here’s the text! “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.”

We should remember that Advent is a penitential season, just like Lent is. It is a time for fasting, waiting, watching, praying, repentance. Similarly during Lent, we are offered a Sunday of respite, so to speak, with Laetare Sunday. Gaudate Sunday is its Advent counterpart and in it we have a time to celebrate and give joyful thanks! For Advent the priest usually wears purple vestments but today, you might have seen your priest wearing rose vestments (or pink as many people think it is!). Or maybe you didn’t! I continue to discover that many parishes don’t have a rose vestment in their sacristy!
The General Instructions for the Roman Missal (GIRM) explain the reasons for colour of our vestments in our Latin Rite: The purpose of a variety of colour of the sacred vestments is to give effective expression even outwardly to the specific character of the mysteries of faith being celebrated and to a sense of Christian life's passage through the course of the liturgical year.

Today’s readings are full of joy, joy, joy! The focus on joy this Sunday is meant to remind us not only that all of the Old Testament promises were all fulfilled in the first coming of Jesus Christ, but that in the coming of Jesus Christ we find the very source of Joy - Jesus is the source of Joy. Actually we have been having an infusion of joy over these past few months. In November 2014 Pope Francis issued the apostolic letter “The Joy of the Gospel”. Then just a few months after that the Congregation for the Institute of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life issued their letter ‘Rejoice’, especially for the Year of Consecrated Life. Next Sunday, our readings will invite us to look at the joy of Mary, our Mother and Elizabeth her cousin. Joy fills Elizabeth, inspires Mary to sing a canticle of praise and causes the child John to dance in the womb. Joy is a Person - named Jesus. When we encounter Him, we encounter Joy. We are able to "rejoice always" (1 Thes 5:16) despite the many sorrowful circumstances of our lives. This is not easy because often we are in sorrow, pain, trouble, and suffering. However we are also “in the Lord.” Being “in the Lord” takes precedence over everything else. With Mary, our spirits find "joy in God" our Saviour (Lk 1:47).

Speaking of babies…did you ever ask yourself why is it that boys prefer blue and girls pink? Is it a cultural phenomenon? Or just the way it is?  Many of you who know me, know I don’t really ‘do pink’. Disclaimer, I am not one of those raging feminists who refuse to buy into the ‘stereotypes’ pasted onto women. In fairness, I have been wearing blue and white clothes for half my life now so I don’t have much opportunity to wear a ‘girly’ colour like pink. However I do find it interesting to explore the psychology of the colour pink.

There is a womanliness in pink as defined also by society. The colour pink is considered feminine in modern Western countries. It evokes traditional feminine gender roles, caring for other people, being beautiful, being good, and being cooperative. It has also come to be the colour associated with breast and ovarian cancer awareness. Amy Breitmann, an ovarian cancer survivor writes: “Why Pink? Pink is the colour of lipstick and blush. Pink is the shade of roses, the first sunlight, flushed cheeks and newborn beauty. Pink is the most feminine colour. We use this pink to pretty things up, but it’s more than that. We wear pink to connect, to bring awareness, to come out of hiding, to speak the truth. It is a symbol of seeing and encouraging beauty and femininity.”

Ironically, I got a pink crown in our
cracker tonight for our Christmas party!
When I was in Ottawa a classmate gifted me with a pink travel mug so I could bring my coffee to class from the residence. I have to say, it did stand out. Plus I was sure no-one would steal it considering that in my second year of the licentiate, I found myself to be the only female in my class so my pink cup on my desk among the other cups became a reminder of my presence as a woman in the class. In those two years in Ottawa, having lived such a rich experience, I discovered the true beauty of the complimentarity of men and women, of ‘blue’ and ‘pink’, which is not reserved just to marriage. Recently Pope Francis spoke about the complimentarity of men and women at a Conference in Rome. He said: “Man with woman brings out the finest in him, directing his blood and his mind toward what makes life possible; and woman with man brings out the finest in her, directing her love and her care toward what makes life sweet.” This is a challenge but often in our society it seems that women seem to be losing all gentility and grace, choosing instead to be crass and vulgar. Proverbs 31 reminds us that as women who belong to God, we strive to protect our hearts from becoming hardened and bitter. The world and its circumstances can easily leave the heart embittered but God can keep the heart soft and full of joy when a woman follows Him. Again, not easy! But we have some amazing role models to follow, starting with our Blessed Mother herself!

Happy Gaudete Sunday!

P. S Just an observation….I am in good company, Mary didn't 'do pink' either!