As God has flooded earth and sky with color, so the Church has sensed the symbolic use of color in its worship. As dominating colors in nature change with the seasons of the fourfold year, so in the Church Year there is a structured change in the colors of the Eucharistic vestments, the liturgical colors. This sequence of liturgical colors has a principal role in Christian visual education, in teaching the Gospel through the eye.
WHITE, GOLD, symbolizing joy, purity and truth, is used on the Sundays and open days of Christmastide and Paschaltide; on all Solemnities except Pentecost and Holy Cross Day; Feasts, Memorials and Votive Masses of the Blessed Virgin, the angels, and saints who were not martyrs; Nativity of St. John Baptist, Confession of St. Peter, Conversion of St. Paul, Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day; Ritual Masses for Baptism and Matrimony, and optionally for Confirmation; and Votive Masses of our Lord, the Holy Trinity and the Eucharist, and optionally for Masses for the Dead. Gold is sometimes used in place of white on major feasts.
RED, the color of fire and of blood, is used on Pentecost; optionally on Palm Sunday and Good Friday; feasts and Votives of the Passion of our Lord and of the birthday feasts of the Apostles and Evangelists; feasts and votives of the Martyrs; Votives of the Holy Spirit; Ritual Masses for Ordination and optionally for Confirmation.
GREEN, the color of living things and of God's creation, is used on the Sundays and ferias in the season after Epiphany and Pentecost.
VIOLET, symbolic of penitence and expectation, is used in the seasons of Advent and Lent; for Votives penitential in nature or for the gift of healing; for Penance and Unction; and may also be used for the offices and Masses for the dead, and on Ember and Rogation Days.
BLACK, representative of deep sorrow, may be used for Good Friday and for offices and Masses for the dead.
ROSE, penitence permeated with joy, may be used on the Third Sunday of Advent and the Fourth Sunday in Lent.
BLUE, in the lighter shades, is sometimes used on feasts of the Blessed Virgin. In the darker shades of indigo (Marian Blue) is frequently used during Advent.