The variety of liturgical colors used in Church vestments and altar decorations arose from the mystical meaning attached to them. Thus white**, the symbol of light, typifies innocence and purity, joy and glory; red, the language of fire and blood, indicates burning charity and the martyrs’ generous sacrifice; green, the hue of plants and trees, bespeaks the hope of life eternal and is the usual color for vestments during “Ordinary” time during the year; purple/violet, denotes penance and sadness; pink, denotes rejoicing; while black, the universal emblem of mourning, signifies the sorrow of death and the somberness of the tomb. (From the Catholic Encyclopedia on line-www.newadvent.org)
*From the 2004 Sourcebook for Sundays and Seasons
**Gold is the color used on very special liturgical celebrations and may substitute for white.
Note: The sequence of colors used for vestments and liturgical objects during different seasons of the ecclesiastical year. For the Roman Catholic Church, the sequence is as follows: white for feasts of Our Lord — excepting those of his passion — and of the Blessed Mother, for the Christmas and Easter seasons, and for feasts of saints other than the martyrs; red for Palm Sunday, for Good Friday, and for feasts of the apostles and evangelists — excepting John — and the martyrs; purple for Advent and Lent — excepting Gaudete Sunday (the Third Sunday of Advent) and Laetare Sunday (the Fourth Sunday in Lent), when rose vestments may be worn; green for Ordinary Time; and black for funeral Masses (for which purple and white are also allowed). From Diocese of Cleveland Web Page.