The Advent Season
Beginning the Church’s liturgical year, Advent (from “ad-venire” in Latin or “to come to”) is the season encompassing the four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas.
The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. The final days of Advent, from December 17 to December 24, focus particularly on our preparation for the celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord.
Advent devotions, including the Advent wreath, remind us of the meaning of the season. Advent calendars and the Jesse Tree can help families fully enter into the season with daily activity and prayer suggestions to prepare spiritually for the birth of Jesus Christ.
On November 28th, upon our return to school, the students participated in an Advent Prayer service ministered by the fifth graders. At the prayer service, we blessed the Advent wreath that the students will use each Monday at our morning assembly. We lit the first candle and reflected on things we could do to make this Advent more meaningful for us.
Traditionally, Advent wreaths are constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which four candles are inserted, representing the four weeks of Advent. Ideally, three candles are purple and one pink, but white candles can also be used.
The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance and preparatory sacrifices and good works undertaken at this time. The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation in now half over and they are close to Christmas.
The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of his second coming to judge the living and the dead.
Families can find weekly prayers to say around the Advent wreath online at usccb.org.