Today we begin the season of Advent, which derives from the Latin word meaning “coming”. Our Lord is coming! It is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. Advent also has a second purpose, which often tends to be forgotten in the hectic pace of the shopping, wrapping, baking and get-togethers before Christmas, and that is to anticipate Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. Our preparations should have both of these comings in mind. By engaging in thoughtful preparation during this Season, when Christ comes again, we will be awake and watchful; He will not find us asleep.
The best-known of all Advent symbols is the Advent wreath, a custom originated among German Lutherans, but later adopted by Catholics. The wreath is comprised of four candles, corresponding to the four Sundays of the Advent Season, which are surrounded by a circle of evergreen boughs, representing everlasting life. Pinecones, seedpods and nuts are often used to decorate the wreath, and symbolize Christ’s resurrection. Fruits may also be added, to represent the nourishing fruitfulness of the Christian life. Now, let’s get back to the candles on the wreath. Three of the candles are purple, representing the penitential aspect of the Advent Season, and one of the candles is pink. The pink candle is reserved for the third Sunday in Advent, which is referred to as “Gaudete Sunday”. The word “Gaudete” comes to us from Latin and means “to rejoice”. Having passed the midpoint of Advent, Gaudete Sunday gives us the encouragement to rejoice that Christmas is near, and to continue our spiritual preparation for the beauty, joy and wonder which will greet us on Christmas Day!
Traditionally, Advent has been known as a “little Lent”. The idea originates from the practice that all great feasts have been preceded by a time of fasting, which makes the feast itself even more joyful. As during Lent, Advent should be marked by increased prayer, fasting and good works. It is a time to become more involved and more enmeshed in the meaning and the possibilities of life as a Christian community. We can easily see the similarities between the two Seasons as we come to our Church. The priests wear purple vestments, the Church itself is austerely decorated, and the “Gloria” is omitted during the Masses.
Advent Volunteer Opportunities for you and your family
More Advent posts:
- A Christmas message from our Parish Life Director
- Advent and Christmas OnLine Prayerbook
- Advent Opportunities
- Christmas Volunteer Opportunities – for you and your family
- Families still need Adopting for Christmas
- Join the Celebration here at Holy Family!
- Sunday Bulletin, Fourth Sunday of Advent 12-23-12
- The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – January 1
- Third Sunday in Advent, December 16, 2012