This awesome Sunday is, as we all know, one of just two times in the year when we break out our rose colored vestments and accoutrements and dust them off. Our song changes, and our spirits have the chance to be transformed as well.
We need this respite from violet, every now and again, to remember the why of our penitence: that, even while we lower our heads and occasionally beat out breasts, God intends us not to be sorrowful, but joy-filled witnesses. We are meant to lift our eyes higher – "to the mountains," as Psalm 121 exhorts us. Ultimately, we are meant to eventually shake off our purple: we are meant to look pretty in pink.
I've heard a lot of talk over these past few months, talk about what brings people to mass, what keeps them coming back, how the new edition of the Missal factors into the whole process. And there are just a few things that I keep coming back to.
First, I don't think people want to go to a celebration of the Eucharist which is not, in fact, celebratory. Do you go to mass because you're compelled by guilt? I think not. I truly believe that it is not obedience or guilt or even tradition that will ensure the regular participation of the faithful. They attend because there is something joyful to witness. They'll go because, at the dismissal rite, they have something to carry with them out the door. And I'm not talking about palm branches here (though we do carry them, once a year). They carry with them an inexhaustible spirit, a joyful countenance, an inner strength, fed by both word and song and Holy Body and Blood.
And secondly, I believe that this Church of ours, if it truly is constituted of holy Joy, has a transformative power that we simply have not dared to experience much over the years. Music that dares to lift, homilies that are bold and engaging and dare to challenge, assemblies that risk unabashed raising of voices – even challenging the strength of a full choir – when have you witnessed such a thing? It is what I strive for, week after week. It is, as our venerable leaders compelled us to dream of two generations ago, a model based on "full, conscious, and active" participation. Full – not half-empty; conscious – not daydreaming; and active – not passive. Three exhortations... just so there was no doubt about what we might try to cook up on our own, with our own agenda.
So as we take pause in the midst of our Advent waiting, let's all keep an eye on our wardrobe. We are a Gaudete people. We are meant to bring joy back to our Creator. We are meant to share that joy with those we meet. We are, indeed, meant to look pretty in pink.
And that is cause for great rejoicing.