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What is the Meaning of Liturgical Colors at Mass? | WHY

December 10, 2021

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The colors we see at Mass in the priest’s vestments are on the alter help paint the story of our faith and help us see what is truly being celebrated, Fr. Mario Amore explains.

Learn the meaning of the green, white, red, and violet colors you see throughout the liturgical year.


Liturgical colors help us to set the scene or paint the picture of the certain feast day or liturgical season that is being celebrated.

The color green, which we’re most accustomed to throughout the liturgical year, is the color that symbolizes Ordinary Time. And during Ordinary Time, we hear about the mission and ministry of Jesus, how he went about curing people and teaching and calling his disciples to follow after him. In fact, we could call it extraordinary time.

The color white helps to symbolize great celebration. We see the color white during Christmas or Easter on feasts celebrating our Blessed Mother or other saints. It helps us to recognize that the day or season is set apart to give God thanks and praise for all that he has done through the life of Jesus and Mary and the saints.

The color red we see on feast days of the martyrs, those who shed their blood for the Lord. We see it on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, when we recall the Lord shedding his own blood for the salvation of the world.

We use the color violet during the season of Advent and Lent. Violet symbolizes penance, or the ways in which all of us are called to turn away from sin and to be faithful to the Gospel.

The colors help us to paint our living story of faith and to recognize what truly is being celebrated.

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