Monday, June 12, 2006

From the Mailbag: Whitsunday?

A question from the mailbag: "Why is the Feast of Pentecost sometimes called "Whitsunday" in the Western Rite -- 'White Sunday' -- when the liturgical color is red?"

Answer: Yes, the terminology at first seems contradictory: a priest clad in red vestments presides over "White Sunday." The reasons is because those who had been baptized/chrismated on Easter again put on their white robes; hence, the church was filled with new Christians clad in white. (O for those days!) The liturgical color red indicates the Holy Spirit, Who descended upon the disciples and lit upon them as "tongues of fire." I hope this explains why a "red letter day" is referred to as "white."

Thanks for your question.

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