A Joyful Sunday. The Third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday. The word “gaudete” is derived from the Latin words “gaudium,” joy, and “gaudeo,” to rejoice or be glad. Gaudete Sunday occurs eight to thirteen days before Christmas, and the nearness of the feast is reason for great joy.
The Term “Gaudete.” Gaudete is taken from the Entrance Antiphon: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near” (paraphrase, Phil 4:4-5). Advent is a time of joyful expectation and eager preparation for the Solemnity of Christmas.
Multiple Reasons for Joy. There is joy in looking forward to the annual celebration of Christmas, but there is also joy in looking back to remember the birth of Jesus on the first Christmas. The joy is heightened by the importance of his birth that he was born to save people from their sins (Mt 1:21b). The joy also extends to anticipation of the Second Coming, either at the end of physical life or the end of the world, the time when believers will be given the crown of righteousness (2 Tim 4:8) and a place in the Father’s house (Jn 14:2) to dwell with God and his angels and saints for all eternity.
A Joyful Color. Rose represents joy and may be used as the liturgical color for Gaudete Sunday. Violet remains the official color for the Season of Advent, the Third Sunday included, because all of Advent has a penitential tone, a time to be absolved of sin and be in the state of grace for Christmas. Gaudete Sunday offers a brief respite to focus on the uplifting, upcoming joyful celebration of the Nativity.
Joyful Adornments. The priest may wear a rose chasuble and the deacon may wear a rose dalmatic. Church decorations may include roses or other flowers, a rose-colored altar cloth, drapery on the pulpit or ambo, chalice veil, tabernacle curtain, or wall hangings. The third candle of the Advent wreath is rose.
Joyful Prayers. The prayers in the Roman Missal on the Third Sunday of Advent convey a joyful message. The immediacy of Christmas is addressed in the Collect, “O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,” followed by two explicit references to joy: “enable us … to attain the joys of so great a salvation” and “to celebrate them with … glad rejoicing.” Preface II of Advent says “we rejoice at the mystery of his Nativity” and that we are “exultant in his praise.” The Communion Antiphon contains the joyful message, “Behold, our God will come, and he will save us” (cf. Is 35:4). Two invocations in the Solemn Blessing for Advent refer to joy: the second, “may he make you … joyful in hope,” and the third, “So that, rejoicing now with devotion at the Redeemer’s coming.”
Joyful Readings. The scripture texts for the Third Sunday of Advent, Year C, are filled with references to joy. The first reading exhorts, “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult” (Zeph 3:14), and continues, “The Lord … will rejoice over you with gladness … he will sing joyfully” (Zeph 3:17b). The refrain for the Responsorial Psalm begins, “Cry out with joy and gladness” and the first stanza adds, “With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation” (Is 12:3). The second reading repeats the Entrance Antiphon, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). In the gospel John the Baptist makes the joyful announcement: “One mightier than I is coming” (Lk 3:16).