Colors are quite important to the life of the Church — the green of Ordinary Time that symbolizes the vitality of the faith; the violet of Lent and Advent that symbolizes penance; the red of Good Friday, Pentecost and martyrs’ feast days that recalls supreme sacrifice. Notice nowhere on this list is beige, which is favored by real-estate agents and office decorators for its neutrality. 

Just as the Church favors vibrancy, so, too, should the faithful stand out — especially in an increasingly secular society, an American bishop reminded Catholics recently. 

“It is not acceptable for a Christian commitment to be beige, to just blend in with everyone else around you,” Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, R.I., said in a keynote address to a pro-family organization in Massachusetts last month. 

“Jesus sent his church into the world to teach, to preach and to lift up the people. I believe I was not ordained a priest or a bishop to be irrelevant,” said Bishop Tobin, who had an exchange last year with Rep. Patrick Kennedy over the politician’s criticism of U.S. bishops and who earlier this year removed a diocesan-sponsored hospital from the Catholic Health Association over the CHA’s support of health care reform legislation. 

Bishop Tobin reminded Catholics they have a right to be part of the debate in the public square, even when they aren’t necessarily welcomed: 

“A truly secularized United States would be a nation without a soul, a nation with a hole in its chest.”