This week is the third week of Advent, also known as Gaudete, which is Greek for “joy”.
It is celebrated in the liturgical calendar of the many Western Churches, including the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran Churches, and many other mainline Protestant churches. It begins on the Sunday of the third week and is celebrated for the following seven days thereafter.
The third week of Advent is considered to be an extra special week. Meaning to celebrate the season is now half way over, “joy” is to be celebrated as the time of preparation for Christmas draws ever nearer. The week is observed by the lighting the special “rose” colored candle on the Advent wreath. The “joy” of this day is meant to be a reminder of the “Good News” that Christ came to Earth to bring redemption and salvation for humanity.
On Gaudete Sunday rose-colored vestments may be worn instead of violet, (or in the Anglican tradition and some Lutheran traditions, Sarum blue) which is otherwise prescribed for every day in the season of Advent.
Despite the otherwise somber readings of the season of Advent, which have as a secondary theme the need for penitence, the readings on the third Sunday emphasize the joyous anticipation of the Lord’s coming, not only in the celebration of Christmas but also when He is to come again at the end of time.