In the Christian tradition, the four weeks preceding Christmas have been named “Advent”. This comes from the Latin word “Adventus” which means “coming”. The season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from three perspectives.
- We share in the ancient longing of the Jewish nation for the coming of the Messiahwho is to save the world from sin in the past, at his birth in Bethlehem.
- We prepare and pray to celebrate the present coming of Christin the gospel, the sacraments, prayer, love, truth, personal experience and other people.
- We also look forward to Jesus’ coming,the Second Coming, at the end of time.
Different practices and symbols help just to live out this time of waiting:
- Advent wreathwith four candles (3 purple and 1 pink for the third Sunday), with a short prayer celebration each week.
- An Advent calendar– to discover each day one thing leading to Christmas.
- A Jesse Treewhich recalls the Old Testament figures and events which prepared for the coming of the Messiah.
- The Christmas treeand decorations to symbolize the light of Christ in our world today.
- Christmas carols, many of which are also Advent carols– bring joy to our world.
Throughout Advent, we remember people who participated in the coming of the Messiah: The prophets, especially Isaiah; key figures chosen by God to make Incarnation possible: Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and John the Baptist.
Other saints traditionally associated with Christmas are: St. Nicholas (Dec 6), the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8); Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec 12) and St. Lucy (Dec 13)
The color purple is used in the Liturgy on the Sundays; pink can be used on the third Sunday to celebrate the joy of the imminent arrival of the Nativity. The first readings are from the prophet Isaiah. This year’s gospel is from Matthew.
A short prayer that can be said during the day is: (Come Lord Jesus, I need to hear your voice today).
First Sunday of Advent
The Prophets’ candle in Advent wreath symbolizes
The readings look forward to the Second Coming of Christ “The Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour”. (Mt 24:44) God’s People are like a light shining in a dark place. Hope is where you start and faith carries you the rest of the way.
Second Sunday of Advent
The Bethlehem candle on the Advent wreath symbolizes faith. John the Baptist tells us to “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight”(Mt3:3) The Old Testament prophets foretell a time of peace – the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the calf and the lion shall all lie down together, and a little child shall lead them (cf. Is. 11:5-8+) The peace that happens from within is a gift for everyone.
Third Sunday of Advent:
The Shepherd pink candle on the Advent symbolizes joy.
The readings tell about the joy associated with the coming of the Savior. “The dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom…be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come and save you”. (Is.35:1) Joy results from the kindling of love, which wants to give, and Service is a gift of this week.
Fourth Sunday of Advent:
The Angel’s candle on the wreath symbolizes peace.
The readings are about the events involving Mary and Joseph that led directly to the birth of Jesus. “The Lord himself will give you a sign.” Is. 7:14 The Magnificat is a featured hymn (cf. Luke 1:46b-55)
This peace can lead us to a heart full of gratitude, joy and especially love.