What is Advent?

9 11 2009

Ever wonder what this (picture left) wreath is for? Why is it placed in front of the sanctuary for 4 weeks before Christmas? And what does the color represents?

Doubt no more, read further to get your conscience clear. XD

The Advent Wreath, a venerable European tradition, can be a way to involve even very little children in learning about Christian preparation – not only for celebrating Our Lord’s birth, but to make our hearts truly ready to receive Him.

The wreath’s symbolism of the advent (coming) of Light into the world is clear. The gradual lighting of the four candles, one on each Sunday of the Advent season, combined with the liturgical colors of the candles (purple is the penitential color used during Advent and Lent; rose <now- pink candle> is a liturgical color used only on Gaudete Sunday in Advent and Laetare Sunday in Lent) help to symbolize not only our expectation and hope in  Our Savior’s first coming into the world, but also in his Second Coming as Judge at the end of the world.

The wreath itself is also symbolic. The circle of evergreen in which the candles are placed represents everlasting life. The seedpods, nuts and cones used to decorate the wreath are symbolic of resurrection, and fruits represent the nourishing fruitfulness of the Christian life.

On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the prophecy candle in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

Each week on Sunday, an additional candle is lit. On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the Bethlehem candle, symbolizing Christ’s manger.

On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the Shepherds’ candle and it represents joy.

The fourth and last purple candle, oftentimes called the Angel’s candle, represents peace and is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent.

Blessing for the Advent Wreath

O God, by whose word all things are sanctified, pour forth thy blessing upon this wreath and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the Coming of Christ, and may receive from thee abundant graces. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Priest: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, king of the universe. You sent your Son to be the Light of the world and to spread his light of love to all. Bless us and accept + these wreaths of light made from our hands. May their ever increasing brightness be a sign to us of the approaching nearness of your Son, that we might prepare in joy for his humble birth in a manger and be ready to receive him at his coming again in glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

On Christmas Eve, the white center candle is traditionally lit. This candle is called the Christ candle and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world. The color of white represents purity.

We praise you, Lord God, because on this day, your Word became flesh in our Savior Jesus Christ, was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and walked among us as a man. Help us to imitate your incarnation, by manifesting our faith in our conduct as well as in our speech. To you, O Lord, we give our honor, praise, worship, and love, in the most holy and precious name of the One who is born today; because He lives and reigns with you in your glory, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Source taken from Catholic.org & About.com

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