In many Catholic churches flowers are the most commonly used decorations in the sanctuary. While they might seem like an “afterthought,” the Church actually has distinct rules and regulations regarding flowers and makes use of them for specific spiritual symbolism.
“Floral decoration should always show moderation and be arranged around the altar rather than on the altar table”, according to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (305).
Flowers serve the purpose of reminding us of God’s creation and the beauty of his handiwork, and are meant to express joy. That is why their use is restricted during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent. During Advent they can be used with moderation, so that the full joy of Christmas will not be experienced ahead of time. During Lent, on the other hand, the use of flowers is forbidden except on Laetare Sunday (4th Sunday of Lent) and during solemnities and feasts that fall during the season.
Flowers also remind us of the spiritual life and the virtues we should acquire within our hearts. They are emblems of the innocence and holiness that derives from Christ, the Sun of Justice.
Philip Kosloski, Flowers have an important role at Mass
Adapted from Aleteia.com, January 23, 2020. With permission