Priests wear different colored vestments for Mass during the liturgical year. The color depends on the liturgical season and which Mass he is celebrating. Each color has symbolic meaning, marking the passage of time. The four most common colors for vestments are white, green, violet (sometimes black), and red.

  • Green: Priests wear green vestments for Mass in ordinary time because green symbolizes life and hope.
  • White: White is employed especially on feast days. It is used during the seasons of Christmas and Easter, and it symbolizes joy, light, and purity.
  • Violet: This color is used during the seasons of penitence: Advent and Lent. It can also be used for Masses for the dead, but Black is especially and traditionally used for Masses of the dead. Violet and black represent penance and mourning.
  • Red: Red can represent both the Holy Spirit and suffering. Priests wear red vestments on Pentecost, confirmations, and on feasts of suffering, such as feasts of the Lord’s Passion and feasts of the martyrs.
  • Priests may also wear rose vestments, symbolizing joy, on Gaudete Sunday during Advent and Laetare Sunday during Lent.

Liturgical colors and the use of different vestments represent more than just small details to be remembered. The Mass is a sensory experience in which we touch and taste the Eucharist, smell the incense, hear the music and prayers, and see everything happening at the altar. The use of color heightens our experience by evoking certain moods and feelings to contribute to the whole experience of the sacrifice of the Mass.