Greetings to all. As we have just finished celebrating Thanksgiving, we now look forward to the Advent Season.
This is a liturgical season that leads up to Christmas, and it consists of four weeks, starting this year on Sunday, Dec. 1, in preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas. Advent is a season of the expectancy of the Messiah and in anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of time.
In other words, Advent is a season that directs our heart and mind to anticipate the two comings of Jesus.
The usual colors for this liturgical season are violet/purple and rose. Purple is worn on the first, second and fourth Sundays of Advent, and rose is normally worn on the third Sunday of Advent (although purple is allowed), also recognized as Gaudete Sunday (the Sunday of rejoicing).
During Advent, the altar is moderately decorated by floral arrangements suited to the time of year on hand, without the anticipation of the full joy of the Nativity of Jesus. And to go along with that, using the organ and other instruments, should be done in moderation for the time of year on hand, without the expectation of the full joy of the Birth of Christ. We also neither sing nor say the “Gloria” during Advent Season.
A popular devotion during Advent is the use of an Advent Wreath (possibly also known as an Advent Crown). The wreath is a Christian tradition that is a symbol of the passage of the four weeks of Advent leading up to the birth of Christ.
The wreath and candles are symbols that are connected to the Christmas season. The color of the candle corresponds with the color of the vestments that the priest and deacon wear on the Sundays of Advent.
The wreath itself, which is made of various evergreens, is a symbol of the circle of life. The circle or roundness of the wreath indicates that there is no beginning or end. It tells us of the everlasting life found in Jesus, the eternity of God and the immortality of our own souls.
There are different themes of Advent also. For example, there is the Prophets’ Candle (purple), which symbolizes hope; the Bethlehem Candle (purple), which symbolizes faith; the Shepherds’ Candle (rose), which symbolizes joy; and the Angels’ Candle (purple), which symbolizes peace.
Another theme is Week One, hope; Week Two, peace; Week Three, joy (rejoicing); Week Four, love.
Also, another meaning for Advent and the candles is a tradition that each week represents 1,000 years; therefore the total is 4,000 years, and that represents the amount time from Adam and Eve until the birth of our Lord Jesus.
On the first Sunday of Advent, before the family meal and right after the blessing of the food, the first purple candle is lit and a prayer is given. This candle can be lit for every family meal the rest of the week.
On the second Sunday of Advent, before the family meal and right after the meal blessing, the second purple candle is lit (along with the first candle), and a prayer is offered and is done for the whole week.
On the third Sunday of Advent, before the family meal and immediately after the meal blessing, the third candle, rose color, is lit (along with the other two purple candles that were previously lit), and a prayer is given. This is repeated every day of that week.
Finally, on the fourth Sunday of Advent, before the family meal and meal blessing, the fourth purple candle is lit (along with the other two purple candles and the rose candle), and a prayer is offered and is continued for the whole week.
Another tradition is to put a white candle, also known as the “Christ Candle,” in the middle of the wreath, and is lit also on Christmas Eve as a reminder of Jesus coming into the world. On Christmas Day, white candles are permitted to replace the purple and rose- colored candles on the wreath and then may be lit before the Christmas meal.
Since Advent is a time to ignite our faith in our savior, the Advent wreath and its accompanying prayers give us a method to prepare for the birth of Christ. In addition, this particularly good tradition of the Advent wreath helps us to remain watchful in our homes and not lose the true meaning of Christmas.
I will leave you with this Advent prayer to bless your wreaths on the First Advent Sunday:
“Lord, our God, let Your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this wreath. May the wreath and its light be a sign of Jesus’ promise to bring us salvation, and may His grace be abundantly given to us. We ask this in Your name, Jesus. Amen.”