Why green is used during Ordinary Time
Green is a color that naturally reminds us of hope and growth.
In the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, the color green is frequently seen on Sundays (and weekdays) throughout the year. It is reserved for the season called “Ordinary Time,” but it’s symbolism is far from ordinary.
First of all, green is primarily associated with growth and reflects the seasons of Spring and Summer in the natural world.
Nicholas Gihr in his book The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass brings to mind the images of a tree and garden to explain its symbolism.
Green is in harmony with the very nature of the Church—she is a mighty tree, which lifts its top majestically toward heaven, spreads its shady branches and leaves in benediction over the earth, resplendent with the richest blossoms, bringing forth choice fruits of grace and virtue u in abundance. She is the watered garden of the Lord; Christ, the good shepherd, leads his sheep to ever green pastures. The Church clothes herself in green vestments to express her joyous, lively hope of the ever lovely and eternally verdant meadows of the heavenly paradise, of the incorruptible inheritance and the unfading crown of glory in Heaven.
In this way the color green urges us to grow in our spiritual life that we may be led into the Promised Land of Heaven.
It is further said in The Ecclesiastical Review that the shade of green to be used for vestments was originally meant to bring to mind the “sight of sunlit meadow and shady woodland, all of which indicates the sense of hope and peace or of tranquil gladness.”
Next to growth, green naturally awakens in us a sense of hope for the future. Writer John Walsh in The Mass and Vestments of the Catholic Church explains, “Green bespeaks hope. As pilgrims and soldiers we walk through a weary life, struggling as we walk, and we should not faint on the way because we are sustained by Our Lord, who in person hath visited us, and by the grace of His Holy Spirit, and, therefore, like the living branch whose life is renewed, we should journey with an indestructible hope toward our true country.”
Green is a beautiful color, one that should alert us to many profound spiritual truths that we can meditate on during the season of Ordinary Time.