Season of Advent

The liturgical year begins with the Season of Advent, the time of preparation for both the celebration of Jesus’ birth, and his expected second coming at the end of time.  This season lasts until December 24th (Christmas Eve).  The season anticipates the coming of the Lord.  “Advent means “coming,” and this season is a preparation for the coming of the infant Jesus.  The mood is hopeful anticipation, and the Scripture readings focus on God’s promise to send a savior deliver us from sin and death.  It is a time to take life a little more slowly, and to focus on what we need to do to allow God to more fully enter our heart” (The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, p. 139).

As we await His arrival at Christmas and in our daily lives, the floral décor of the church is not a dominant presence.  This allows us to focus our attention on preparing our daily lives for the arrival ofChrist in our hearts.

The Advent wreath is part of our long-standing Catholic tradition.  The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life.  The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul and the everlasting life found in Christ.  All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who entered our world becoming true man and who was victorious over sin and death through His own passion, death and resurrection.

The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent.  Three candles are purple and one is rose.  The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance and preparatory sacrifices and good works undertaken at this time.  The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest and deacon also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is 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.